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After playing the haggard and disgraced knight Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones and the cunning and ruthless Sir Richard Carlisle in Downton Abbey, Iain Glen was ready for something different.
“This is unlike anything I’ve ever done, or ever read: it’s really strikingly original,” says the Scottish actor about Cleverman, a dystopian sci-fi series set in … Australia.
Based on an original idea by Ryan Griffen, Cleverman takes its cue from Aboriginal myth and a legendary species known as the Hairypeople, who have emerged from the Outback and now live — uneasily — in a ghetto-like containment zone within the country’s largest city. After a series of violent murders terrify the city, the government begins to crack down. It is up to a chosen one, called the Cleverman, to unite the residents of the zone — human and hairy — if they are to survive.
“The world that they created is very eerie disturbing, very intriguing,” says Glen. “And there’s a sci-fi element to it, which makes a nice change from riding horses and swinging swords.”
Glen plays Jared Slade, a billionaire businessman and media mogul who appears to be trying to help the residents of the zone but may have his own secret agenda. “He’s a self-made man,” says Glen about his character. “We used Richard Branson as the blueprint. He has the same easy style and charisma but also is definitely anti-government.”
Directed by Aboriginal filmmakers Wayne Blair (The Sapphires) and Leah Purcell, Cleverman was produced by Goalpost and Pukeko Pictures for Australian public broadcaster ABC in co-production with Sundance TV and Red Arrow International. Red Arrow is handling international sales. Frances O’Connor, Hunter Page-Lochard, Rob Collins and Stef Dawson co-star. ABC will air the first six-episode season of Cleverman next year.
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