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Thomas Jane: Traumatized 'Troppo' sleuths need a win in Season 1

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Thomas Jane: Traumatized 'Troppo' sleuths need a win in Season 1
The new detective drama, "Troppo," starring Nicole Chamoun (L) and Thomas Jane, premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Amazon Freevee

NEW YORK, May 19 (UPI) -- Thomas Jane and Nicole Chamoun say the private eyes they play in the new Australian drama, Troppo, are outsiders with something to prove.

The eight-part drama set in North Queensland premieres Friday on Amazon Freevee.

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The adaptation of Candice Fox's best-selling novel, Crimson Lake, follows Ted Conkaffey, an ex-cop forced out of his job in Sydney after he was accused of a crime he swears he didn't commit.

He teams up with ex-con tattoo artist Amanda Pharrell to suss out who might be using crocodiles to murder local residents.

"Everything's on the line for both of our characters, which is what makes it compelling," Jane told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"These two people have been shattered by trauma, and they are very different human beings in just about every way you can think of," Jane said. "The one thing they have in common is they have both been shattered by experiences that weren't necessarily under their control."

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Ted -- estranged from his wife and daughter -- is considering suicide when Amanda first approaches him to help her find a missing Korean computer engineer who lives in the area with his wife and teen daughter.

"He's at the end of his rope. Period. The end. Somehow this crazy woman comes into his life and throws him a lifeline," Jane said of Ted and Amanda. "He just can't bring himself to walk away."

Chamoun said he also was drawn to the series because of the show's unique central partnership.

"It's unlike anything I've ever seen before," she said. "They are chalk and cheese! They are so different, but they are drawn together by their trauma. She pushes at him and he pushes back."

The Australian actress emphasized how important it was to her that the characters are seen as equals and who bring distinctive skills, points of view and experiences to the table, despite their checkered pasts.

"It wasn't a father-daughter relationship. They met each other on the same level. I loved the chemistry between these two characters," the actress said.

Jane agreed.

"It's not your traditional father-daughter relationship and not your traditional romantic relationship, which are two of the most common pairings you can think of in novels and film," he said.

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"[Because] they are neither of those things, that was compelling in itself. Navigating this strange dynamic between the two is the heart of the show."

In addition to starring in it, Jane produced the series through Renegade Entertainment, the production company he founded with Courtney Lauren Penn in 2019. That was months before the coronavirus pandemic began, disrupting film and TV projects globally for more than a year.

The American actor noted his company's logo is a horse made of fire, which is meaningful since horses are terrified of flames. He sees a connection between that image and Ted.

"What happens when you are made of the thing you fear the most? And then, Crimson Lake aka Troppo fell on our desk and we looked at Ted," Jane recalled.

"What do detectives do? They seek the truth, and if they are any good at their jobs, they are passionate about the truth. Here is a character doing what he was passionate about, seeking the truth, which then destroyed his life, blew up his job, his marriage, where he lived. Then, he fled to Queensland."

The remote, rural geography and sweltering climate were integral to the crime story, he noted, since "troppo" means people literally being driven insane by the region's tropical heat.

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"What an amazing location. Talk about exotic!" Jane said, explaining that even the Australian cast and crew found it interesting because it is not a common tourist destination.

"It's not in our back yard," Chamoun confirmed. "It was a gift to be able to go to a place that I'd never visited and experience that for the first time and meet the people and really get a sense of place."

Fox acknowledged that she took a leap of faith in allowing her book to be adapted as a TV series that takes place in a "lush, wonderful landscape where anything could happen."

"It was very nerve-racking, and there was a lot of hope involved because it was seven years in-between the book being optioned and the actual thing hitting the screen," the author said in a separate Zoom chat with UPI.

"They were telling me the whole time, 'We're going to make this into a TV show,' and I was like, 'Yaaaay! Really?'" she said, adding that she didn't believe the dream would be realized until the cameras started rolling.

"It was the actor Thomas Jane coming and putting his feet on Australian soil that made me go, 'Oh, this is happening!'"

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The relationship between two people who are in terrible trouble, trying to "analyze the hell" out of each other while solving a crime together, was the most important aspect of the book that Fox wanted the filmmakers and actors to retain.

"I didn't want them to be best friends for life who get on really well. I wanted them to have that need to learn who the other person is and question themselves and figure out how to get on," Fox said.

"The two of them helping each other -- I wanted to maintain that, and that unfolds so beautifully in this show. I'm really happy."

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