Ryan Corr and Phoebe Tonkin are a little bit torn over what genre best describes Bloom.
“We’re not in Kansas anymore, which I really like about it. It’s risky material and I think it comes across well,” says Corr.
“I think of it as grounded supernatural,” Tonkin suggests.
“Fairytale, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, comedy!” adds Corr.
Eventually both settle on mystery drama. But they are agreed Stan’s new 6 part series is unlikely to have ever been produced on Free to Air television. When all 6 episodes drop on New Year’s Day viewers will discover why.
“ABC has done some good stuff, like Glitch,” Corr continues, “but I don’t think anything pushes the boundaries like this. I don’t think a network would do this because it doesn’t exist to sell commercial spots. It’s more an exploration of an idea and a philosophical question. Stan was great letting their creatives fly. It’s got a place on Streaming content. It’s not kitchen sink.”
Indeed it is not (but it would be remiss not to note Stan is owned by Nine). Bloom opens with a catastrophic flood in a rural town but it leaves behind a mysterious plant with a berry that offers eternal youth. Or does it?
Tonkin plays Gwen the younger version of Jacki Weaver’s character, married to Ray (Bryan Brown). Due to the nature of the bold plot, Tonkin (The Originals, The Vampire Diaries, Safe Harbour) shared no on-camera scenes with the veteran Weaver. But the two strived to replicate one another.
“I watched a lot of interviews of her when she was younger,” she explains.
“There were a couple of days where we crossed over, and a press day together. The first day she landed she came to set had lunch with me and watched my body language, listened to the way I talk, which is very flattering. But the nature of Television is that it’s very fast. It would have been nice to have a week of rehearsal with everyone but we weren’t afforded that luxury.”
“But you don’t really need to emulate them because when we meet Gwen she has Alzheimer’s.”
Corr (Holding the Man, Hoges, Love Child, Packed to the Rafters) plays Sam, a sexually-charged young man full of exuberance whose opening scenes required him to run through the streets of Clunes wearing nothing but a modesty sock.
“It sort of makes you look like a Ken Doll,” he laughs. “It involves your meat and 2 veg in a bag which is tied at the top and tape between your bottom. And then running.
“Playmaker have made me run naked in everything I’ve done with them!
“The moments of lightness are needed to break the tension, particularly with Sam. Or at least that’s how it starts off. There are some genuinely funny moments.”
But Bloom by writer Glen Dolman explores much deeper and darker themes.
“Without giving too much away, you see these characters are compelled by a great regret they have had in their lives,” Tonkin continues.
“Ray thinks he is bringing Gwen back as her younger self, but it starts to become like Dr. Frankenstein, that she is not exactly what he thought he was bringing back. There is something a little off-kilter and dangerous about her. So it makes him wonder was it the right thing to do?”
“It throws up philosophical questions which I think is one of the strengths of the show. It gets you talking about ideas: what parts of a person returning remains, what version is left?” Corr asks.
“It’s all pretty high stakes, and we are dealing in an area that isn’t well-trodden. So we were learning about the effects of the berry and how it manifests as we were shooting.
“It was like a jigsaw puzzle put together.”