City Homicide: articles


Noni Hazlehurst finds strength in numbers on City Homicide

PERFORMING is something Noni Hazlehurst hasn't been able to shake and as her sons begin to venture down the same path most would expect her to be worried, but she's not.

Comfortably walking in the shoes of straight-shooting Detective Superintendent Bernice Waverley on cop drama City Homicide, Hazlehurst believes that if her sons Charlie, 19 and William, 14, get the same thrill from acting that she and their father, John Jarratt, do, then there's nothing to be anxious about.

In fact, the youngest has been playing out scenes alongside his mother as the son of law enforcer Waverley on her latest TV offering.

"They both have the talents to do it and if they want to do it then that's fine," Hazlehurst says.

"I would be the first to tell them not to do it because it's hard and not reliable, but they've both got agendas.

"Charlie keeps talking about playing my second long lost son on City Homicide, the one they gave up at birth."

There's no slowing the intelligent, quick-witted Hazlehurst down as she ploughs ahead with her career after more than 30 years in the business.

Her trophy cabinet boasts four Australian Film Institute awards for various film roles including in Little Fish, sitting alongside an Order of Australia for her services to children and the performing arts.

From working on past drama The Sullivans to entertaining children in Play School and giving lifestyle tips for around the house on Better Homes and Gardens, Hazlehurst has achieved a lot.

Directing ambition

However, it's her passion which further ignites her professional fire. So, it's not surprising that next on her agenda is directing for the first time since 1985.

"I am really keen to direct again," Hazlehurst says before answering in one word why she enjoys being behind the camera so much — "Control," she laughs.

"I love the fact that you are responsible for every frame and no one is patting you on the head.

"I think we've been making too many dog poo and cockroach films and I personally don't want to pay 20 bucks to be depressed.

"Films like World's Fastest Indian, Death At A Funeral and Sideways, they are low-budget films with killer scripts. That's the key and if you have a great script you attract the best actors from anywhere in the world.

"I think people want to be nourished on some level by the money we invest in these things. We need a bit more edginess."

Right mix

City Homicide producers know all about casting the right mix.

As Hazlehurst points out, too many films and TV programs try to launch off the back of one well-known cast member and then wonder why the show doesn't rate.

Having a strong ensemble cast which includes Aaron Pedersen as Detective Senior Constable Duncan Freeman, Daniel Macpherson as Detective Senior Constable Simon Joyner and Shane Bourne as Detective Senior Sergeant Stanley Wolfe, is one of the reasons Hazlehurst agreed sign up for City Homicide.

"I like the idea of the regular cast and the reasons dramas have failed is because they haven't assembled a group of well-known people," she says.

"They will have one but when you look at six faces and you only know or like one you have to really like that one person to watch.

"We have a very small budget compared with overseas too, so it's hard to compete with that, but even though our budget is probably the size of the US productions catering budget they (City Homicide producers) still capture this unique look and the line-up of talent is really strong."

Launching season three two weeks ago, City Homicide has relocated from Monday to Sunday nights, but is still managing to pull in the viewers averaging a national audience of 1.32 million last week.

Plot lines

As the storylines unfold on the high-energy drama fans will notice cracks beginning to surface in Waverley's usually well-orchestrated life. Hazlehurst confirms this is the most challenging plot she's played during her time on City Homicide, as Waverley is involved in a police corruption case.

"It's really good and something meaty for Bernice and as an actor," she says.

"In her role as Detective Superintendent she doesn't do the day-to-day crime solving, she has to be at the top of everything that's going on. You've only got to read the papers to see this (police corruption) happens all the time at the highest level of the police force and it's something that has the absolute power to ruin someone's career even if they are innocent. Mud sticks."

City Homicide, Sunday, Seven, 8.30pm

By Erin McWhirter
February 24, 2009
The Courier-Mail