July 16, 2024

One of the more unusual acting luxuries for Tasma Walton in new Binge / Foxtel drama The Twelve was having no lines to learn for the extensive court room scenes.

Asked to sit back and observe the drama, those playing jurors got to watch some of the country’s top performers at work.

“Crazily most of our time spent on set was in the courtroom,” she tells TV Tonight, “where you have front row seats to watching the incredible Sam Neill, Francis O’Connor and Fayssal Bazzi, and all of the amazing guest actors coming through as witnesses.

“But you don’t say a word, because you’re a jury member. Obviously as the jury, you’re there to observe and take in information. So most of my time on set was in this ‘passive’ (mode).

“You’re still listening and engaging, but in many ways, without the pressure of dialogue. Which meant you could really just actually enjoy everything that was happening around you.”

Walton, whose credits include Mystery Road, Cleverman, How to Please a Woman, Sweet As and Blue Heelers, plays juror Thelma Connell in the story of a murder trial enveloping a small WA town.

After a local landowner is found dead at the bottom of her farm well, two ex-lovers stand accused of her murder.

The second season of the legal drama embarks on a new locally-created story after season one was based on Belgian drama of the same name.

“I was a big fan of season one. It had me completely hooked. I really enjoyed the hook of the mystery and the crime storyline, but also the ensemble nature of it an taking these side paths into such a diverse group of people’s lives,” she explains.

“It doesn’t disappoint. It’s actually a slightly shorter a run than season one. I think they did ten eps and we’ve done eight.

“It’s so engaging. It just holds you, full throttle from the start.

“I play a character by the name of Thelma, who is selected for jury duty. She lives in the region, in the civic service as one of the admin people at the local council. She sees herself as a very good citizen, follows the rules, does everything as she perceives to be right and has a really structured, regular kind of life. She’s grown up in the town that she’s always lived in, now married with her partner and at the moment has her mother living with them. Her mother is slowly falling into dementia, and it progressively gets worse throughout the timeframe of the story.”

A topline cast also includes Kris McQuade, Amy Mathews, Erroll Shand, Shareena Clanton, Josh McKenzie, Anthony Brandon Wong, Stefanie Caccamo, Sharon Johal, Luke Pegler, Adriano Cappelletta, Nelson Baker, Greg McNeill, Suesha Rana, Brad Francis, Isabelle Bäsén and, in his final role, Keith Robinson.

The series also allows for sub-plots involving the jurors own lives as well as the tense jury room negotiations.

As Walton explains, these involved ‘scenes within scenes’ capturing private moments between the twelve jurors.

“I think they were probably the most difficult scene is to shoot,” she continues.

“It’s really similar to back in the day on Blue Heelers, actually. You had multiple small scenes within one larger scene, if that makes sense. You’ve got a conversation here, you’ve got people making tea and coffee over there, another small group by the whiteboard… it’s one scene, but there are multiple different scenarios occurring within it. That is a real challenge to shoot and make fluid within that one space.

“It was almost in terms of shooting, like three different shows, in a way: the jury sitting in the courtroom was one particular dynamic, then the jury room was really intense and long days and then all the location stuff where your your personal character’s journey is squeezed into one or two day shoots.”

Walton, now filming another Easy Tiger production, Scrublands S2, confirms she has never sat on a jury herself but has been approached on two occasions.

“The first time was when I was an actor on Blue Heelers and and the production basically said, ‘That’s not happening. We can’t afford to lose one of our core cast.’ So they got me out of that one,” she notes.

“The second time was when we moved to the States. When you get a driver’s licence over there, you must go on some sort of register…..I told them I’m not American so I don’t think I qualify, so I got very quickly dropped from that list.”

The Twelve screens 8:30pm Thursday on Showcase / Binge.

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