Mcleod's Daughters: articles

Underbelly prequel a hit for Dustin Clare

FROM wrangling sheep on McLeod's Daughters to battling the bloodshed of real-life gangland wars on Underbelly, Dustin Clare has landed one of the most sought-after roles in television.

Cameras began rolling in Sydney yesterday on the highly-anticipated Underbelly prequel with Logie award-winning talent Clare saddling up alongside veteran actors Roy Billing, Peter O'Brien and Andrew McFarlene for the second series.

While the former Drovers Run farmhand is the envy of his acting friends, Clare faces the most daunting challenge of his career - playing the notorious hitman known as "Mr Rent-a-kill", Christopher Dale Flannery.

Preparing to portray a cold-blooded killer in Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities, Clare confessed he was feeling the heat in playing an underworld character so large in the public consciousness.

Flannery was suspected of up to 14 murders but disappeared in May 1985, and is presumed dead.

Delving deep into Flannery's world, Clare has tracked down associates of the criminal to get an idea of his lifestyle.

"They are big shoes to fill," Clare said of Flannery, who has previously been played by Gary Sweet in ABC's Blue Murder and by David Field in the film Everynight … Everynight.

"I've made contact with people who knew Chris. I don't want to implicate them by naming them. I've gathered information and, along with the script, that will inform the decisions I make (about playing Flannery)."

Revolving around the decade between 1976 and 1986, Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities showcases the illegal drug industry that took a hold on Australia and the two crooks at the centre of the trade - Robert "Aussie Bob" Trimbole (played by Billing) and Terry "Mr Asia" Clark (played by Matthew Newton).

The drama also delves into the work done by the Federal Police in uncovering and processing the nature and extent of organised crime in Australia.

McFarlene will play anti-drug campaigner Donald Mackay, while O'Brien stars as controversial racing identity George Freeman.

The first series of Underbelly, based on the Melbourne gangland wars between 1994 and 2004, launched in February and become a ratings hit - averaging 1.26 million viewers nationally excluding Melbourne, where it was banned from broadcasting for legal reasons.

It also delivered new-found fame for Kat Stewart, who played Roberta Williams, and Gyton Grantley, who played her drug-running husband Carl Williams.

Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities will be filming in Sydney and Melbourne from now until March next year.

By Erin McWhirter and Darren Devlyn
October 18, 2008
The Daily Telegraph