Scary truth of sexting laid bare in The Hunting
PORTRAYING a father grappling with his son's online transgressions was a scary proposition for Richard Roxburgh.
The award-winning actor stars opposite Asher Keddie and newcomer Alex Cusack in SBS's four-part drama The Hunting.
The compelling mini-series follows four teenagers, their teachers and families throughout the lead up, revelation and aftermath of a nude teen photo scandal.
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"It was quite scary territory as a father," Roxburgh says.
"My oldest boy's 12, so he's not quite in that world yet, but he and his friends soon will be in that world. He's certainly in the world of having his own mobile phone now, and frankly I love him having that because I can text him and he can get back to me.
"But there's an abundance of new conversations that have to be had as a result of that. If there is a lesson it's that communication is such a key, and knowing that as a father you have to take your son aside to talk about the ways of treating other human beings that you might have taken for granted."
Roxburgh portrays Nick, a lawyer who is keen to sweep his over-achieving son's involvement in the photo scandal under the rug as soon as possible - much to the concern of his wife Simone (Keddie).
"He's an incredibly protective father, and also extremely affectionate with his boy. He has a genuine deep love of that boy, to the extent that he can't see with any clarity the monstrous things his boy is doing," he says.
"My character does some appalling, really morally utterly reprehensible things by way of sorting out his son's stuff and trying to fix it. On the one hand you understand that because he doesn't want his son in trouble but on the other hand you think 'You're propagating that behaviour and allowing it to continue'.
"Nick's quite a different character for me to play. He's such long way away from where I am in all kinds of ways. It was a challenge, but that's part of what's exciting as well. I really enjoyed the idea of working with Asher again. We often have the same idea at the same time and I found that shorthand helpful."
Tackling themes of misogyny, privacy, sexuality, trust, online exploitation, masculinity and gender, the series uses this singular event as a way of exploring some of the most pressing issues of our time and offering a portrait of the lives of modern, multicultural Australian teens.
"We as parents have a duty, as do legislators and educators, to see the world as much as possible through their eyes to see where they're coming from," Roxburgh says.
"What makes sense to them clearly doesn't make sense to us, hence sexting and the alarming statistics such as around 25 per cent of adolescent kids will send nude selfies to one another. It's something we need to take hold of and look at in a different way, rather than our old bespectacled eyes.
"Part of what I found really interesting working on the show is it did open my eyes to the way the kids see things and the purpose that so-called sexting has. That it actually is a part of the dating ritual if you like. It's another base that has been added in what were the three bases you could go to, and it's done in a place of adolescent first love.
"This is a real moment in time and we need to understand that and to not just shut it down and say 'That's a stupid thing to do'."
The Hunting premieres tonight at 8.30pm on SBS-TV.