Rakish rascal UP TO OLD TRICKS
It’s been a long wait for the second series of critically acclaimed drama Rake, but Richard Roxburgh says his alter ego, womanising rogue barrister Cleaver Greene hasn’t used the time wisely.
Rake – and Greene – burst on to screens in 2010 with eight episodes of tightly written and superbly delivered mayhem and left viewers begging for more. The wait for series two has been worth it. This season sees Greene in more trouble than ever, as his rakish ways, law and politics collide. “The writers had a long time to get it right,” says Roxburgh, tongue firmly in cheek, as he chats over a burger harbourside in Sydney. “About time they pulled their fingers out and wrote something decent.”
Roxburgh is fast friends with the writers, and as co-creator of the original series, is heart and soul of the show.
Happily, says Roxburgh, the antihero hasn’t learned a thing since the first series, in which he drank and womanised his way through a multitude of scrapes, got beaten up, badmouthed, kicked around – and still managed to win unwinnable cases and defend the indefensible – both in his private and working life.
“Cleaver hasn’t learned anything, not that you’d notice,” chuckles Roxburgh.
“In fact, he’s worse than ever. Very much worse this time. “That’s why he’s so much fun to play.” Greene is always one who bites off more than he can chew, and the Rake season opener sees him in more hot water than even fans could imagine.
He’s in the back of a limousine, with a woman he really shouldn’t be with, and the fact that their lusty interlude is being constantly interrupted by her phone beeping with messages is the least of his problems.
His dalliance with the female premier of NSW, played by no less that Toni Collette, is one of his most ill-advised moves ever (or it would be, if he ever managed to listen to anyone’s advice), and sets up a story arc that resonates throughout the season.
For Roxburgh, it’s the added spice that season two needed – and he’s relishing it.
“What’s great this time around is the political element it adds to the story,” he says.
“It was pretty clear that that was where we were headed last time around, and it works.”
Roxburgh suspects people love his character “in a love-hate kind of way”, because he is so flawed. “He’s kind of vain and he’s a fool and he’s an adolescent and he never grows up,” he says.
“But the thing about him is he is somehow still loveable. He said in the first season: ‘You know, I’ve never stopped loving any of you’ to his women. And that’s true of Cleaver. I think he does love people genuinely.” Roxburgh snorts with laughter. “It’s just that he’s a real volume man, he loves a lot of them.
“But what people love seeing is bad things happen to Cleaver … the worst things happen to him … it sort of satisfies this sadistic impulse and reconfirms to them that you can’t get away with bad behaviour.
“They want karma to bite him. Especially the women.
“The women who watch the show cannot wait for bad things to happen to this guy.”