David Wenham plays lawyer Andrew Fraser in the pay-TV series Killing Time.
David Wenham plays lawyer Andrew Fraser in the pay-TV series Killing Time.

Lead me not into temptation

DAVID Wenham's highly anticipated TV role is finally making its way to Australian viewers.

The acclaimed actor's portrayal of disgraced Melbourne lawyer Andrew Fraser in Killing Time will debut on pay-TV channel TV1 on Wednesday, November 2, but with some major limitations.

Because of ongoing legal issues, only the first six of the series' 10 episodes will air this year.

Killing Time follows Fraser's rise from a small-time lawyer to successfully defending the most infamous criminals in the country, and right through to his ultimate downfall and five-year imprisonment at Port Phillip Prison.

"Upon reading the scripts I knew it was a project that would fascinate me," Wenham said.

"He's a flawed character and I like the fact that he's flawed. Heroes without flaws aren't interesting. He had everything but he was flawed."

Best known for his roles in SeaChange, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Baz Luhrmann's Australia, Wenham couldn't pass up such a compelling and complex character.

"He's very fascinating, extremely charismatic and a really smart guy," he said.

"But he can also be very, very abrasive. He was extremely good at this job, but the great tragedy was he was tempted by a few things. He fell into temptation and suddenly his whole life became undone. It was a hideous thing for Andrew but great for us in terms that it makes for incredibly compelling drama."

At the start of the project, Wenham made the decision not to meet Fraser.

"There is so much footage out there of Andrew I just thought I'd be far more objective in my portrayal if I didn't meet him," he said.

"He's very clear in his writings about his whole career and journey. He painted a very good picture of that."

But the actor did end up meeting Fraser and his ex-wife Denise during filming.

The fact that Denise stood by her former husband through his trial was a powerful part of the story Wenham wanted to understand.

"That's the major reason I eventually agreed to meet Andrew, because I met him with Denise," he said.

"We had dinner together and it was a terrific evening. It put into place why they did stay together. They were a couple who did share a great love and had a wonderful family together. For me, that whole strand is my favourite part of the whole series."

Fraser has seen the series, which has already aired in New Zealand, and given it the thumbs up.

"He loves it," said Wenham.

"He's extremely proud of it, which is not a small thing to say. We don't pull any punches, there are warts and all. It's very raw material for him, so for him to see his life exposed like that and to give it his stamp of approval is, I suppose, a badge of honour."

Despite Fraser's dramatic fall from grace, Wenham believes many viewers will be discovering the story for the first time.

"In Melbourne he's much more well known," he said.

Rounding out the cast are Diana Glenn as Denise, Richard Cawthorne as heroin dealer Dennis, Colin Friels as Lewis Moran and John Brumpton as Peter Dupas.

Killing Time - TV1 - Wednesdays at 7.30pm QLD, 8.30pm NSW.

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