Relevance: Sam Worthington does not want his Gallipoli production to be “the old slouch hat, bully beef kind of story”.
Actor Sam Worthington believes he has uncovered a fresh take on the Gallipoli story that is not “a re-telling of the last 20 minutes of Peter Weir’s movie” and which will resonate with modern audiences in the era of WikiLeaks and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Worthington will produce and star in the mini-series Deadline Gallipoli for Foxtel, which tells the story of the journalists “embedded” with the troops on the ill-fated campaign and their fight to get the truth out about how badly the fighting was going.
“Me and my producing partner John Schwarz wanted to come up with an idea so that we could be part of this 100-year commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign,” Worthington says. “But we didn’t want it to be the old slouch hat, bully beef kind of story.
“The more we uncovered about these journalists, the more we realised we had an All the President’s Men in a war zone kind of movie where these guys actually fought to get the news out because censorship was so strong back then.
“If you look at WikiLeaks and any kind of war zone where there is censorship, the story and the idea and the themes are still as relevant today as they were back n 1915.”
Worthington, best known for his starring role in Avatar, will play Age journalist Phillip Schuler, who travelled with the first convoy to Turkey in 1915.
“The soldiers themselves would have kept fighting for as long as they were told to,” Worthington says. “I can appreciate . . . that spirit. The thrilling part of the drama is the story of these four journalists fighting the upper echelons of the military to get the truth out and stop the carnage.”
He was tight-lipped about who was in the frame for the roles of legendary Australian war correspondent Charles Bean and journalist Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert.
“Let’s just say I have a very big Rolodex and a lot of mates,” he says. “It’s more juggling all the different schedules. We haven’t finalised anything yet.”
Deadline Gallipoli will begin production in South Australia this year and will be released to coincide with next year’s centenary commemorations.