Anna Torv returns in The Newsreader – and there’s a surprise twist
September 8 2023
At last year’s 62nd annual Logies, Australian actress Anna Torv won a best actress award for her first season on The Newsreader, while the show won most outstanding program on Australian television.
While she was one of four Australians who awkwardly didn’t show up for the ceremony – Guy Pearce, Kitty Flanagan and Richard Roxburgh were the others – she was the only one who graced the audience with an acceptance speech video.
“Playing Helen in The Newsreader has been such a gift … and making something that was such a joy to create makes it even more rewarding,” she said, giving a shout-out to the ABC for “championing Australian stories”.
Fast-forward 12 months, and the ongoing dramas inside a fictitious TV newsroom set in the mid-1980s – and the personal and public lives of its two anchors – is about to hit our screens for season two.
Starring Torv, 44, as Helen Norville and Sam Reid (Interview with the Vampire), 36, as Dale Jennings, the pair re-emerge as ‘the golden couple of news’ after cementing their off-screen relationship.
The official storyline doesn’t give too much away, except the year, which is 1987, when global stocks “soar and crash” and Australia is preparing to celebrate its bicentennial.
Life imitates art
In an interesting twist on life imitating art, two of the country’s most respected real-life ABC television news anchors – former 7.30 host Leigh Sales and News Breakfast co-host Lisa Miller – have joined forces to talk about every episode of the show after it airs.
Aptly titled The Newsreader Podcast, the “journo buddies” of 20 years will give fans of the show “an access all-areas pass to on-set gossip, never before heard stories from the writers’ room and the inside rail on the real-life news events that inspired the series”.
They’ll chat to Torv, Reid and core cast including Robert Taylor, William McInnes, Michelle Lim Davidson, Chum Ehelepola, Stephen Peacocke, Marg Downey and Chai Hansen.
“I loved season one because I felt like it put me back into an ’80s time warp really. It was the shoulder pads, it was the hair, it was just everything about it,” says Sales.
Adds Miller: “And remember when news networks used to have themes that went like, ‘love you Brisbane, yes you mean the world to me’?”
Torv grew up on the Gold Coast, and after graduating from NIDA more than 20 years ago, has had regular work in well-respected TV series in Australia, New Zealand and America.
In 2004, she scored a role in local production The Secret Life of Us, followed by Steven Spielberg’s The Pacific in 2010, and then cult hit JJ Abrams’ Fringe playing FBI agent Olivia Dunham over five seasons in the US.
Then there was Secret City, in which she won her first Logie in 2017 and back again to American shores until 2019 to play Wendy Carr in Mindhunter.
After a decade in Los Angeles, she moved back to Australian in early 2020 as the pandemic hit and borders were closing.
Torv is also Rupert Murdoch’s niece.
Her paternal aunt (her father was Estonian Hans Arvid Torv), Anna Murdoch Mann (neé Torv), was married to media mogul Rupert Murdoch for 31 years and her cousins are Elisabeth, Lachlan and James Murdoch.
Forget social media
Torv is not on social media, and has fan bases to thank for maintaining her online profile and body of work, and rarely opens up about her personal life (she married Fringe co-star Mark Valley in December 2008 before divorcing after a year).
In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald ahead of the first season of The Newsreader in 2021, Torv said social media has “done some fantastic things” for people but she likes to do her own thing.
“I don’t want it to seem like I’m judging people who do it, really I am not, because I get it and I understand it,” she says.
“But I do think you can’t put what you’re eating for breakfast on the internet and then be upset when people are invading your space. If you just don’t do it, then you are given an element of respect and they don’t talk about it.
“I’m always surprised that actors are so open with their lives,” she says.
“You want people to believe what you’re putting on-screen and you don’t want them to be constantly seeing you. I’m always a bit confused by that.
“You’ve got A-list stars putting their breakfast on there, or ‘Here’s me with my baby’ or ‘I’ve just given birth.’ I just don’t understand, but that’s me – and again, no judgement.
“But I get to do my own thing, and just talk to the press about shows that I’m doing.”
Torv was nominated for an Emmy for her guest role as Tess, a post-apocalyptic warrior in the 2023 big-budget series, The Last of Us, which took binge streaming to new heights after cleverly adapting the globally popular video game.
She also worked on feature film Force of Nature: The Dry alongside Eric Bana but we’re yet to see it after Bana, who also produces, decided to reschedule the release due to the long-running SAG_AFTRA strike in the US.
After The Newsreader season two, her next project is a Canadian-Norwegian drama series, So Long, Marianne.
And don’t forget the podcast, with Miller reminding audiences it’s there to listen to if you’re somebody who needs a debrief while you wait for the next episode.
“And we’re the friends you can do that with. But we’ll bring our journo skills to it, too. We’ll talk about what’s happening in the show but also give you some context around the real ’80s news events, plus what it’s like working in actual newsrooms,” Sales said.