Law unto himself
Why Richard Roxburgh resurrected Rake
WHEN we left Cleaver Green at the end of season three, he was dangling from a hot-air balloon with his best mate inside, their fate uncertain, floating into the distance. And as far as the Rake team were concerned, that was the perfect place to leave them.
“We thought it was a beautiful ending and if we came back for a season four we’d have to have a better idea – and none of us did,” says Richard Roxburgh who, in addition to playing the dissolute barrister, is cocreator of the series.
With all of the characters having achieved resolution in some form, there was a reluctance to mess with what many fans saw as perfection.
But then, almost a year on, Roxburgh woke up with a brainwave. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Summoning the troops over lunch, he explained a beginning and an end for a potential fourth season.
“It was really basic – and probably for the writers a really annoying – trajectory with no dots joined at all,” he grins.
“I said, ‘Imagine how great that could be?’ and they were like, ‘Great, well why don’t you f---ing write it then’. But it’s worked out really beautifully.”
With several A-list actors joining this season, including John Waters as a frightening face from Cleaver’s past, we can expect to see plenty of great cameos once more. But unlike other seasons, Roxburgh says this one will mostly focus on the core coterie of characters we’ve grown to know and love.
That includes fellow hot-air balloon victim Barney (Russell Dykstra), his ex-wife Scarlett (Danielle McCormack), morally upright pollie David “Harry – sorry, David” Potter (Matt Day) and Cleaver’s ex-wife Wendy (Caroline Brazier).
Having inhabited these complex characters since 2010, the cast are part of the innate success of the series, Roxburgh says.
“Everybody knows their character and is so settled in their skin now that we can kind of relax and play with it,” he says.
“There’s quite a lot of improvisation now and a lot more spontaneity, with people throwing in their own stuff. As an actor, it makes your life really interesting because you don’t know what’s coming … or what ends up on screen, you’re going to get these golden moments of surprise.”
Surprise is important to Roxburgh. He’s loathe to give spoilers other than to say there are “extraordinary events unfolding in the life and times of our ensemble of players” as well as some “fantastic comings and goings”. But he’s happy to announce that, should audiences decide they want it, a fifth season is most definitely on the cards.
“I think even if you slammed a door on Cleaver he’d find a way to come back in,” he laughs.
“He’ll come in through the back door, down a chimney, some entrance, somewhere. Look, there might be a strong reason to come back at this point – but my lips are sealed.”
THURSDAY, 8.30PM, ABC