A stellar cast, including Golden Globe Award nominee Melissa George (Grey's Anatomy, Alias, In Treatment), Oscar-nominated Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda, Dirty Pretty Things), Tony Award nominee Essie Davis (Australia, Girl With A Pearl Earring) and, in his first Australian role, Jonathan LaPaglia (NCIS, Bones, Brothers and Sisters), has been confirmed for the eagerly-anticipated ABC TV series The Slap, based on Christos Tsiolkas's best-selling novel.
The Slap comprises eight one-hour episodes, each told from the perspective of one of the main characters. Filming commences on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 in Melbourne. The series will screen on ABC TV at a later date.
Jonathan LaPaglia will play the role of Hector. After working as an emergency-room physician in Adelaide, Jonathan LaPaglia followed his older brother Anthony LaPaglia to New York to pursue a career as an actor. He got his first break on the TV show New York Undercover. Jonathan LaPaglia has also appeared in episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Cold Case (2008-2009) and in the Woody Allen film Deconstructing Harry.
Sophie Okonedo will play Aisha. As well as an Oscar nomination, Sophie Okonedo has been nominated for numerous other awards including Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild and MTV Awards. In 2010 she was nominated for a BAFTA for her portrayal of Winnie Mandela in the telemovie Mrs Mandela. Melissa George will play the part of Rosie. Melissa George's international career includes a major role in Mulholland Drive (which opened the 2001 Cannes Film Festival), and roles in Dark City, The Amityville Horror and 30 Days of Night.
Essie Davis will play Anouk. Since graduating from NIDA, Essie Davis has become one of Australia's most respected and acclaimed film, theatre and television actors.
The Slap traces the shattering repercussions of a single event on a group of family and friends. At an Australian backyard barbeque, a man slaps a child who is not his son. The boy's parents are so affronted by the assault that they call the police and legal action results. Friends and family are forced to take sides. The Slap brings to life questions of parenting, the rights of children, race, class, sexuality, and the different perspectives of men and women.
Carole Sklan, ABC TV Head of Fiction, says, "We're thrilled to be working with such an outstanding creative team and extraordinary cast to bring to the screen this acclaimed, controversial novel which has generated so much passion and debate. It's a compelling portrayal of contemporary family, friendship, parenting and relationships."
Produced by Matchbox Pictures' Helen Bowden, Tony Ayres and Michael McMahon, the writing team includes Emily Ballou who was named one of The Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Novelists of 2003; Alice Bell who wrote Suburban Mayhem, which premiered at Cannes in 2006; Brendan Cowell who wrote eight episodes of Love My Way; AFI Award winners Kris Mrksa (Underbelly Series Two & Three) and Cate Shortland (Somersault).
"I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with the writers and the creative team involved in the adaptation of The Slap to television. Everyone involved is keen to keep true to the honesty and rawness of the book while at the same time making sure that what is created works as riveting and unexpected drama. That passion is exhilarating," says Christos Tsiolkas.
A team of four AFI Award-winning directors - Jessica Hobbs (Love My Way, Answered by Fire); Matthew Saville (Noise, The King); Tony Ayres (Walking on Water, The Homesong Stories, Saved); and Robert Connolly (The Bank, Romulus, My Father) - will each direct two episodes.
Helen Bowden says, "Thanks to the incredible success of the novel we've been able to attract the best writers, directors and now an amazing cast to bring The Slap to television. With 'hot button' issues in every episode, we're hoping that the series will continue the Australia-wide discussion that Christos started with his book."