‘Elvis’ Director Baz Luhrmann’s New Project for Hulu Is a Miniseries Recut From Nicole Kidman Starring ‘Australia’

by Emily Morgan

Fresh off his release of Elvis, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann is back in action. This time the famed director is bringing his film, Australia, to TV. According to reports, Luhrmann is teaming up with fellow Australian and the movie’s original star, Nicole Kidman, for the TV adaptation. 

Australia, his 2008 sprawling period piece, will be a recut limited series for Hulu. In the original film, Kidman played an English aristocrat who inherited a cattle range run by a cattle driver, played by Hugh Jackman.

Now, Baz Luhrmann is turning the film into a six-episode miniseries titled “Faraway Downs.” The new project will also feature recut footage from Luhrmann’s original film, with an updated soundtrack. Luhrmann said Australia had shot three endings, with only one making it into the theatrical cut. 

Fans can revisit the plot of Australia this winter when “Faraway Downs” premieres this winter on Hulu.

“I originally set out to take the notion of the sweeping, ‘Gone With the Wind’-style epic and turn it on its head — a way of using romance and epic drama to shine a light on the roles of First Nations people and the painful scar in Australian history of the ‘Stolen Generations,'” Luhrmann said about the reimagining. 

“While ‘Australia’ the film has its own life, there was another telling of this story; one with different layers, nuances and even alternative plot twists that an episodic format has allowed us to explore. Drawn from the same material, ‘Faraway Downs’ is a new variation on Australia for audiences to discover.”

Now, “Faraway Downs” will expand on the plot surrounding Kidman’s Lady Sarah Ashley. Viewers will watch as a cattle baron tries to take her land. Simultaneously, a young biracial Indigenous Australian child, played by Brandon Walter, struggles with the government’s racial policy. 

Baz Luhrmann defends his lengthy-running films

Disney’s 20th Television is the producer for “Faraway Downs,” with Luhrmann executive producing alongside Catherine Martin, Schuyler Weiss, and Catherine Knapman. Knapman and Martin were also producers of the 2008 film.

The theatrical cut for Australia is two hours and 45 minutes. “Faraway Downs” will include six episodes, though we don’t know how long each episode will last. Baz Luhrmann, who most recently crafted the new biopic on Elvis Presley, previously defended the length of his films in an interview. 

“There’s dramatic license and there’s compressions because you’ve got to compress times,” Luhrmann said in reference to his film about The King. “My rule is, as long as it doesn’t fundamentally change the truth. I mean, you’re telling a 42-year-long life in two-and-a-half hours.”

He added, “I make theatrical movies. It’s a theatrical experience. And the theater simply means a place in which strangers come together in an environment. and for a few moments are united by what happens in the theater, whether my theatrics are good or bad. That’s my only job. That’s my mission. Right now, we haven’t really proved that non-franchise movies can bring all quadrants back into the theater. I consider that to be on my shoulders.”