City Homicide: articles

Tasma Walton with husband Rove McManus

Finding time for terror... City Homicide star Tasma Walton with husband Rove McManus. Picture: Richard Dobson Source: The Daily Telegraph

Tasma Walton on new series of City Homicide, writing and Rove McManus

IN THE dead of night, Tasma Walton is fumbling for her keys.

In the role of City Homicide's Det Sen-Sgt Claudia Leigh, she begins unlocking the front door of a house that promises sanctuary from a torrid day at the office where she toiled unsuccessfully to coax a confession from a man suspected of a string of heinous crimes.

She hasn't heard the footsteps of the man who, after her grilling of him at the police complex, has followed her home to exact revenge.

The aggressor, played in menacing fashion by Walton's former Blue Heelers' castmate Martin Sacks, places a plastic bag over her head and drags her into the house.

Seconds later she is gasping for breath, her eyes filled with fear of asphyxiation.

TV networks have recently been accused of irresponsibility in saturating us with violence in dramas such as City Homicide, Underbelly and crime documentary shows.

Walton, however, is proud to be part of a show that has played a key role in the recent resurgence of Australian produced drama.

Asked why she thinks City Homicide has resonated so strongly with viewers, she says: "Because it's good-quality Aussie drama, well written.

"The cast dynamic really works and it has a great sense of atmosphere and style. I'm very proud to be a part of a show of this calibre and yes, it was one of the first to revitalise what was then (2007) a very contracted industry."

After five years in the 1990s on Blue Heelers, Walton had been wary of committing to another police show.

One of the reasons she said yes to the role of criminal profiler Claudia Leigh was that it was a semi-regular, rather than permanent role.

She could see the role was a clear departure from Dash McKinley, the part she played on Heelers.

"Dash was quite impetuous, impulsive. Claudia is almost the polar opposite. She considers what she needs to say and comes from an intellectual approach."

Walton concedes it can be trying filming scenes where you are portraying terror.

Asked what it was like working through such emotionally and physically demanding scenes with Sacks?

"Fantastic," she says.

"It was a real joy, regardless of the intensity of the scenes.

Having worked together for such a long time on Heelers, we had an immediate understanding of each other's work methods and focus on set.

"They (attack scenes) were certainly challenging and required a strong level of emotional intensity over a long period of time.

"Working with Marty was perfect . . . it's (atmosphere on set) very focused. We all know that this stuff is tricky, so everyone works hard to get what we need in as few takes as possible.

More than anything, the harrowing aspect was the realisation that many women have been in Claudia's situation in real life.

That's truly frightening and tragic."

Away from City Homicide, Walton has been busy writing and making films. Her debut novel Heartless was released last October. She appeared in the movies Blessed and Dreamland, the latter an experimental film she shot with ex-boyfriend, actor Danny Roberts, during two weeks in the Nevada desert.

She also married former Rove host Rove McManus, who has been trying to crack the tough US TV market.

They've spent a chunk of this year living in Los Angeles.

Walton has enjoyed a little time out while McManus chases new career opportunities.

"Last year was quite frantic for me, juggling City Homicide with the release of my novel Heartless, so it's been great to simply relax and do some sightseeing," she says.

"I bought a motorcycle and did the ride along the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles — spectacular.

"I'm back for the Byron Bay Writers' Festival in August, and possibly some acting work."

One thing Walton and McManus have in common is that they are staunch conservationists.

McManus is an ambassador for Flora and Fauna International and Walton sits on the organisation's board in Australia.

When McManus was approached to join FFI and introduced Walton to it, "it just seemed the perfect blend of all those passions", she says.

"It's rewarding on a very deep, human level."

They were recently in the Amazon.

"We based ourselves at the fully sustainable eco resort Cristalino Jungle Lodge, near Alta Floresta, and trekked every day through the rainforest," Walton says.

"It certainly lived up to — in fact exceeded -the wondrous expectation I had of what the famous Amazon would be.

"And it's both frustrating and extremely sad to think we're losing it to cattle ranches, outdated farming practices and a government that can't see an economic value in preserving it."

By Darren Devlyn
July 07, 2010
The Daily Telegraph