Exactly 20 years on from his starring role as Count Vladislaus Dracula in horror flick Van Helsing, Australian actor Richard Roxburgh has gone full circle and found God.
Taking on the heavy lifting this time as Cal Quinn, founder and global pastor at U Star megachurch in Stan’s latest offering, Prosper, by all accounts there’s much more blood, sweat and tears storylines in this production.
Together with Rebecca Gibney (Halifax, Packed to the Rafters) who plays his wife and worship leader, Abi, 61-year-old Roxburgh says he can’t wait to bring this story to life.
“Prosper is a powerful family drama … and arrives with impeccable timing,” he says of what is shaping up to be a Succession meets Hillsong drama series.
“Quinn is an irresistible character … he’s a luminous and powerful figure, yet plagued with doubt and secrets,” Roxburgh, who played drug addict and barrister Cleaver Greene in long-running ABC series Rake, tells digital movie magazine FilmInk.
Prosper, which will premiere on Stan next year, is one of five big-budget series for the Nine Network-backed streaming service, which competes with Binge, Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV+, Paramount+ and Disney+.
Over the past 12 months, the streamer has worked closely with international distributors, announcing C*A*U*G*H*T starring Sean Penn and in August, it commissioned Bluey producer Ludo Studio to make eight-part road series, Thou Shalt Not Steal.
It also ordered coastal mystery thriller Exposure, and Invisible Boys, a contemporary drama about a closeted gay teenager in small-town Western Australia.
“The shows are representative of our entire slate,” Stan’s chief content officer Cailah Scobie told Deadline.
“We back distinctive voices and tell Australia stories that resonate with Australian audiences but also resonate internationally.
“We have international partners on each one, which is testament to the ambition of the shows.”
‘A razor-sharp study’ of a damaged family
With filming already under way in Sydney, the series follows Cal and Abi Quinn, the founding family behind one of the world’s fastest-growing megachurches.
Just like so many high-stakes evangelical power couples before them who inevitably became unstuck due to greed and the power game – think Jim and Tammy Bakker, among many others – the Quinns will bring an Australian spin to the megachurch phenomenon.
And for Gibney, who has played a detective, a forensic pathologist and wife and mother Julie Rafter in one of the Seven network’s highest-rating comedy drama series of the 2000s, playing the pastor’s wife is whole new ballgame.
“[Abi Quinn] … is unlike anyone I have played before,” says the 58-year-old 2009 Gold Logie winner.
“Poised on the precipice of a lucrative American expansion, the family is about to catapult into a whole new stratosphere of wealth and unchecked power,” wrote Screen Australia, which has come on board with major production investment.
“But behind closed doors, the Quinns are a family protecting shameful secrets – all while preaching a message of faith, love and acceptance to their many thousands of followers.
“At its heart, Prosper is a razor-sharp study of a damaged family inextricably bound together while tearing themselves apart.”
“Their kingdom has come,” says Stan.
Filling out the supporting cast is Ewen Leslie (Bali 2002), Ming-Zhu Hii (La Brea), Jacob Collins-Levy (The Witcher), Jacek Koman (Moulin Rouge!), Hayley McCarthy (The Originals) and rising stars Andrea Solonge and Alexander D’souza.
While Roxburgh is best known for portraying the blood-sucking vampire in the 2004 cult classic monster movie – which grossed $US300 million in box office receipts – it was the marriage to his Italian Van Helsing co-star Silvia Colloca which has also endured.
Roxburgh has played Hugh Stamp in Mission: Impossible 2 and collaborated with Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge! and Elvis, his TV credits are also impressive including 40 episodes of Rake from 2010 to 2018.
Colloca has published four cookbooks, recorded Sing Like An Italian in October last year (the album was No.1 on the ARIA Classic Album Chart) and has hosted TV cooking shows on the ABC and on SBS Food.
“Meeting Richard changed my life [they married in 2004]. I am in love with him for 18 years and we’ve created a beautiful family of three children [Raphael, Miro, and Luna] and now a dog,” she revealed in a Sunday Life interview last year.
She was asked was there a character Roxburgh had played that comes close to reflecting who he really is?
“Definitely not Rake!” she said.
“To be honest, the cheek, the sense of humour and wit is definitely Richard; I can see him in that way.
“He is the most wonderful family man, but he is cheeky for sure. That is the secret to our good marriage – don’t take yourself too seriously.
“For us to support and encourage each other to go for it is a blessing.”
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