No turning the other cheek
THE book that divided friends and family will once again challenge our ideas of right and wrong in the ABC's new series The Slap.
The eight-part adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas's award-winning book is one of spring TV's most highly anticipated new series.
The Slap follows the repercussions of a single event upon a group of family and friends who are gathered at Hector and Aisha's house to celebrate Hector's 40th birthday.
But everyone is forced to take sides when Hector's cousin Harry slaps Hugo, the son of Aisha's friends Rosie and Gary, after a game of backyard cricket escalates.
Veteran Aussie actor Diana Glenn, best known for her roles in Carla Cametti PD, Satisfaction and The Secret Life of Us, plays Harry's wife Sandi.
"I was on the train from Melbourne to Sydney and I read the entire book the whole way," she said.
"You just can't put it down. Most people who read it have quite a visceral reaction to the book. Sometimes you're so angry you don't like it. It's one of the most interactive books I've ever read because it really is quite confronting in what it brings up and what it brings up in you as a reader. When you're dealing with any issue of children and family, everything is so heightened."
Like the book, each episode of The Slap tells the story from the perspective of one of the central characters, played by an all-star ensemble including Melissa George, Jonathan LaPaglia, Alex Dimitriades, Sophie Okonedo and Essie Davis.
Directors Jessica Hobbs, Matthew Saville, Robert Connolly and Tony Ayres took the reigns on two episodes each.
Glenn's character Sandi is seen throughout the series without being the focus of any particular episode.
"There's a bit of a twist with what happens with Sandi," she said.
"She plays a very pivotal role, not in terms of screen time but in a secret that is revealed. Towards the end of the series, and the book, you understand why Aisha is so angry at Harry and Sandi plays a part in that.
"While she has to be on the side of her husband she also knows how bad it could have turned out."
Glenn originally auditioned for the role of Rosie, played by George, whom she found the most infuriating character in the book.
"Rosie was the character I had the biggest reaction to... I didn't like her at all," she said.
"I was really struggling with how I'd audition for her. I remember throwing the book at one point.
"We started working on the scene and found the humanity and humility of Rosie. So much of her behaviour comes from a place of self loathing and insecurity. Suddenly I had so much compassion for her. I found myself in the (audition) room having a complete about-turn about her."
Glenn believes viewers will go on a similar journey as the series unfolds.
"There's a slow sort of unfolding of who these people are," she said.
"Because you're dealing with this one integral event of the slap, when that happens in episode one you're pretty clear on where you stand, who you love and who you hate, but as the story progresses that does shift a little bit."
And she thinks fans of the book will be happy with its small-screen adaptation.
"There are a few differences but the majority is very faithful to the book," she said.
"Tonally, it is very faithful.
"When you see the characters on screen with their good and bad I think it's easier to accept them. There's something about the medium (of TV) that allows that."
The Slap - ABC1 - Thursdays at 8.30pm