Panic At Rock Island on TV2

8:30pm Tuesday, February 1 on TV2

Top Kiwi talent Grant Bowler (True Blood, Ugly Betty, Outrageous Fortune), Simone Kessell (Stickmen, Underbelly: A Tale Of Two Cities) and Anna Hutchison (Go Girls) star in TV2’s movie event, Panic At Rock Island.

It’s the eve of a huge rock festival on an island in Sydney harbour. The three day event, featuring top New Zealand and Australian bands, is both exclusive and expensive. To save on the ticket, Kiwi’s Zed (Eli Kent) and Ari (Zoe Crammond) sneak through underground tunnels, making a horrendous discovery in the process. Covered with blood, they find a man on the verge of death, ravaged by a mysterious contagion.

Freaked out by their find, Zed and Ari arrive on the island, unknowingly carrying with them the deadly virus. Amongst the rock music and gathered crowds, the illness spreads like wildfire. Blood, vomit and panic ensue, as the full impact of the virus is realised.

Chief Medical Examiner Jim (Bowler) immediately appeals for quarantine. But the city’s coffers are more concerned with outward appearances, and refuse to take drastic measures. Jim’s fears spiral out of control when he learns that his children Elmo (Christian Byers) and Nina (Jessica Tovey) are both on the island.

With the help of government spook Hirsch (Vince Colosimo), Jim takes the law into his own hands and closes off all access to the event. But instead of controlling the situation, a riot erupts that throws the entire city into bedlam. With the world collapsing around him, Jim discovers that not only has his wife Denny (Dee Smart) infiltrated the deadly pandemonium to find their children, but the virus is no accident, and the people responsible for it are the last he’d ever suspect.

For Bowler, returning to Australia to film the event was a dream come true. “Until Panic At Rock Island, I don’t think I’d worked in Sydney for maybe five years,” says the actor. “But my kids are here and when Tony Tilse [director] talked to me about this script, it just seemed like the perfect time.”

But it wasn’t only the opportunity to return to Sydney that drew Bowler to the film. He says, “I love the project and I love the ambition of the project. I think that ambition is something we need more of in Australian film making and the attempt with Panic At Rock Island to be big and expansive is something I really wanted to back.

“And I wanted to be amongst my peers. There’s something about working with people that you’ve worked with for 15 or 20 years that’s really, really lovely and, you know, old school, having a common language and a history,” Bowler continues.

Bowler was also thrilled to be working alongside such a talented cast in extremely beautiful surrounds. “The location for this show has got to be a highlight,” he enthuses. “Getting to work on Goat Island and the view and the scenery all around the Harbour. The helicopter rides and being on the assault boats was fun too. There’s been a lot of boys own adventure stuff in this film which is always great and then the quality of the cast – it’s fantastic. Working with Vince Colosimo, Simone Kessell and Dee Smart, who I hadn’t seen for years, and who all did an incredible job – plus all the great younger actors that are coming through.”

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