Yvonne Strahovski, Cate Blanchett to Star in Australian TV Drama 'Stateless' (Exclusive)

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Yvonne Strahovski, Cate Blanchett

Blanchett is co-creator of the psychological drama, which is set in an immigration detention centre in the Australian desert

The Handmaid's Tale's Yvonne Strahovski will star in a new Cate Blanchett-produced psychological drama, Stateless, for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Blanchett will also have a role in the limited run, six-episode series, which will have an all-female writing and directing team. 

Created by Blanchett, Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres and screenwriter Elise McCredie, Stateless tells the story of four strangers in an immigration detention center in the Australian desert. An airline hostess escaping a suburban cult, an Afghan refugee fleeing persecution, a young Australian father escaping a dead-end job and a bureaucrat caught up in a national scandal all intersect at the center where they are pushed to the brink of sanity and unlikely and profound emotional connections are made amongst the group. Inspired by real events, the series intertwines gripping and devastating personal stories, revealing a system struggling with the irreconcilable contradictions of border protection. 

Stateless, which Blanchett and NBC Universal’s Australian shingle Matchbox Pictures have been developing for four years, was originally based on the true story of Cornelia Rau, a German Australian woman who in 2004 escaped a frightening cult only to be trapped in a labyrinth of psychiatric and legal systems, landing her in Australia’s notorious Baxter immigration detention center.

“Whilst this story centers on Australia, the dilemmas that it explores through four absorbing characters will resonate globally: the desire for personal freedom, the need for social stability, an escalating lack of faith in the political process and the deeply unsettling impact this has on individual lives,” Blanchett says of Stateless. 

Ayres added: “We have assembled the most extraordinary array of Australian talent to make this show, both in front of and behind the camera. In each case, people were drawn to Stateless because it asks one of the most vexing questions of our times: How do we as a nation maintain control of our sovereign borders whilst retaining our own humanity?”

Blanchett was slated to direct, with Jocelyn Moorhouse and Emma Freeman now helming the series. Also starring are Jai Courtney, Asher Keddie, Fayssal Bazzi and Dominic West.

The series is set to go into production in South Australia, based at the Adelaide Studios in June. 

Stateless is written by Elise McCredie and Belinda Chayko and will be produced by Sheila Jayadev and Paul Ranford for Matchbox Pictures, with Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, through their Dirty Films shingle, and Ayres as executive producers. Elise McCredie is showrunner and executive producer and Liz Watts will serve as executive producer. ABC executive producers are Sally Riley and Andrew Gregory.  

It has major production investment from Screen Australia and the ABC and has been financed with support from the South Australian Film Corporation. 

Stateless will be distributed worldwide by NBCUniversal International Distribution.