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Picnic at Hanging Rock revisited: stars gather for premiere

Picnic at Hanging Rock revisited: stars gather for premiere


YAEL Stone admits today’s premiere screening of Picnic At Hanging Rock brings with it great expectations — in more ways than one.

The 32-year-old actor — six months pregnant with her first child to indigenous mentor Jack Manning Bancroft — has yet to see an episode of the hotly anticipated Foxtel drama series, which will make its international debut at the Berlin Film Festival later this week.

Doctors advised Stone against the long flight to join her castmates in Germany, so soon after flying home from New York, where she finished filming the latest season of Orange Is The New Black.

“I wanted so much to be there [Berlin],” Stone said, “but ultimately the doctor said ‘you can’t fly all the way across the world and then turn around two days later and do it again.”

So she’s seeing it with her castmates at a special preview today, at the famous rock in Victoria. And the grounding has done nothing to subdue her enthusiasm for Picnic’s extraordinary ensemble, which includes Game Of Thrones star Natalie Dormer and Aussie starlet Samara Weaving; as well as the ambitious crew and writers behind the reimagining of Joan Lindsay’s famed novel and 1975 Peter Weir film.

“Foxtel and Fremantle have done such a wonderful job and it’s a source of great pride to see homegrown stuff be embraced [overseas] for exactly what it is and not try to be something else. It’s truly exciting and I wish I could be there but will be sending my love and cheering from afar,” she said.

Weaving, who has been embraced by Hollywood for her recent role in the Oscar-nominated film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, leads a strong cast of young female actors, who earned particular praise from Stone.

The six-part series explores the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls — including Weaving’s character, Irma Leopold — and their governess on Valentine’s Day, 1900.

“They’re such wonderful women and I think the audience is just going to be swept up in their story and their calm and charisma and power,” Stone, who plays busybody teacher, Dora Lumley, said. “As young women, they are just fascinating to watch.”

Weaving also loves the female group. The niece of actor Hugo Weaving told News Corp she used Princess Diana and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as inspiration for her portrayal of schoolgirl Irma, a senior border at the Appleyard College where Dormer, as the enigmatic headmistress, rules with an iron fist.

Born into a world of privilege, Irma comes from a wealthy family (her mother was a Rothschild) and will be worth millions when she comes of age — a life Jackie O and the one-time Lady Diana Spencer knew well.

“Irma has the stresses of being known as the wealthy one from England,” Weaving said. “I was looking at women that had to deal with that atmosphere. I researched Princess Diana and Jackie Onassis. I saw them as women born into wealth who had that (pressure of being wealthy) put upon them.”

Foxtel’s director of television, Brian Walsh is expect to announce the show’s air date today.