Richard Roxburgh first played disgraced former detective Roger Rogerson in the acclaimed 1995 miniseries Blue Murder. Twenty-two years on, he's back as Rogerson in the two-part series Blue Murder: Killer Cop, which concludes tonight on Seven at 8.40 PM. WHO spoke to the Rake star, 55, about the series, which encompasses further events in Rogerson's life, including his 2016 conviction over the murder of Jamie Gao.
Q: What was it like coming back to Roger Rogerson 21 years on?
A: Well, it was strange in lots of ways, also strange because the Roger I was playing was so totally changed and it was a totally different part of that weird and very complicated life he made for himself. Charting the physical decline and the domestic entrapment he got himself into was so strange and very different to the first Blue Murder.
Q: Is he completely amoral?
A: I don’t think he was amoral. I think he had a very strong moral sensibility, but it was not one that is easy for us to understand. I think he would really see that there are people on this earth whose lives don’t count. Roger’s moral compass would and could contain that, that he would be quite OK with that idea, that essentially there are people who are kind of like cockroaches and blowflies, and you could just give them a squirt of Pea Beu. So in a sense he was a very strong policeman because he was able to really go right up against very, very dark presences in this life, and hit them full on, hit them right in the face with as much darkness. But then it’s obviously a little slip sideways and you’re off the precipice, which is what happened with Roger.
Q: Your famous character, criminal lawyer Cleaver Greene from ABC-TV’s Rake, is morally malleable. Is Richard Roxburgh in any way naughty?
A: Um well. I’ve had my moments. Cleaver is a kind of product of a great, long friendship I’ve had with Peter Duncan, Rake’s writer and co-creator, so I was sort of badgering Pete for years to write me this idea about this character who was incredibly brilliant but also just so damaged and in trouble and beaten up and addicted to everything, because I just found the psychology of that type of brilliant person amazing. There is some territory that might be loosely based on an earlier incarnation of my being, not the one who lives on the northern beaches with three lovely kids and a beautiful wife.
Q: Have you ever been arrested?
A: No. There were times when I should have been, but I have never been. Which is lucky.
Q: What would you never do again?
A: That’s a really dangerous question. I can say when I was a boy, I was a pretty wilful, rebellious, problematic teen and when I first had my licence in the country, we would have races around in our parents’ cars, drunk as lords, and we thought that was kind of OK. I would never do that again. The things that adolescent boys do, it’s terrifying, but hopefully keeping a strong and available presence in my kids’ lives means the possibility of things tilting wildly off in the wrong direction is minimised.
To hear more from Roxburgh, especially about his life now with wife Silvia Colloca and their children Raphael, 10, Miro, 6 and Luna, 3 mos., pick up a copy of WHO on newsstands now.