Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer will play English headmistress Mrs. Hester Appleyard in Foxtel’s upcoming Picnic at Hanging Rock miniseries.
FremantleMedia’s six-parter begins shooting later this month. Amanda Brotchie (Agony, This is Littleton, Lowdown) will direct alongside the previously announced Michael Rymer and Larysa Kondracki.
Brotchie joins after the Australian Directors' Guild criticised FremantleMedia over the import of Kondracki, a Canadian, to shoot the series.
In late December, following a protest staged by the ADG and WIFT NSW outside FremantleMedia’s Sydney office, the production company announced it would bring on an Aussie female director to shoot one episode.
Joining Dormer as the teachers of Appleyard College are Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), French actress Lola Bessis (Cassandra, Swim Little Fish Swim), Anna McGahan (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Anzac Girls) and Sibylla Budd (Tomorrow When The War Began, Winners & Losers).
Schoolgirls will be played by Lily Sullivan (Camp, Jungle), as Miranda Read, alongside Madeleine Madden (Tomorrow When The War Began, High Life) as Marion Quade, Samara Weaving (Monster Trucks, The Babysitter) as Irma Leopold, Ruby Rees (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) as Edith Horton and newcomer Inez Curro as Sara Waybourne.
They will be joined by Don Hany, Harrison Gilbertson, James Hoare, Marcus Graham, Mark Coles Smith, Jonny Pasvolsky, Philip Quast, Emily Gruhl, John Flaus, Ros Gentle, Julie Nihill, Kaarin Fairfax, Randall Berger, Mayah Fredes, Alyssa Tuddenham, Kate Bradford, Bethany Whitmore, Markella Kavenagh, Felix Johnson, Ines English, Huw Higginson, Rob Jacobson and Kim Gyngell.
The latest adaptation of Joan Lindsay's 1967 novel has been written by Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison. The mini is produced by Ewan Burnett, with executive producers Jo Porter and Anthony Ellis from FremantleMedia Australia and Foxtel’s head of drama Penny Win.
“Though the story remains in 1900, Picnic at Hanging Rock will be 21st century storytelling for the premium Foxtel drama audience,” Win said.
Porter, who described Picnic at Hanging Rock as an iconic female story, called the cast "an exceptional mix and depth of established names and exciting young Australian talent who will redefine these characters for a new generation."
"The strength of the scripts, the appeal of the story and our directors’ vision has drawn an incredible calibre of actors to the project – including Natalie Dormer. Natalie is known for her bold choices in playing powerful, smart and fearless women. Her rendering of Mrs. Appleyard is sure to be just as intriguing and complex."
Picnic at Hanging Rock is supported by Screen Australia and Film Victoria.