Hulu’s ‘Faraway Downs’ follows the story of Lady Sarah Ashley and the Drover, whose paths cross in an unexpected turn, leading to an equally unforeseen romance between them. For starters, Lady Ashley is married to the man who hires the Drover to escort her safely to their land in a remote location. Moreover, there are many differences between him and Sarah, but as we get to know more about the Drover, it turns out that he is not the man he appears to be and has quite a tragic past. This touch of tragedy adds a realisticness to him, giving the audience an impression that he might have been a real person after all. SPOILERS AHEAD
The Drover is a Baz Luhrmann’s Work of Fiction
‘Faraway Downs,’ which was first presented to the world as a feature film, ‘Australia,’ comes from the mind of writer-director Luhrmann, and, apart from the historical references in the story, everything is a work of fiction. The Drover, whose real name isn’t revealed until the very end of the show, is also an entirely fictional character, though his purpose in the story calls for a real job as the drover, also known as a stockman, or, in American terms, a cowboy.
The reason behind the Drover not using his name is relevant to the story, and its revelation also reveals some key information about the character. While Luhrmann might not have based him on a real person, the writer-director heavily researched Australian history, especially around the Second World War, which means a lot of work has gone into crafting the Drover and the details about him, which become more important as the story moves forward.
While Hugh Jackman inhabits the role with ease, he wasn’t the director’s first choice for the role. Luhrmann wanted Russell Crowe to play the Drover while Jackman was being considered for the role of Fletcher. However, when things didn’t work out with Crowe, Jackman took the spotlight, and it turned out that he was the perfect fit. “I hadn’t known Hugh that well, but the moment he put on the Drover’s moccasins and picked up the whip, there was no question. This film just took off at that moment,” Luhrmann said, adding that Jackman would be “the number one surprise” in the movie.
While Jackman may not have been the first choice, once he got the part, he threw himself into becoming the Drover, which demanded a lot from him, not just emotionally but also physically. The setting of the story requires horse riding from its characters. Additionally, the Drover is also said to have a talent with the horses, which meant that Jackman had to go for additional training. He received intense training in Texas for this, and it came in handy in several scenes where the Drover is seen handling the cattle and lassoing the horses.
Describing his experience on the set, Jackman said: “The horse went ballistic when I got that rope around his neck. My gloves ripped, and the rope peeled the skin off my hands. I just remember being so happy that I did it that I didn’t care at all.” He also added that the weather was so “incredibly hot” and the set so “incredibly remote” that he almost fainted on the first day.
While it was clearly not an easy feat for Jackman, Luhrmann parsed his commitment. “I don’t think there’s anything physical that Hugh Jackman can’t actually do. It’s not just that he does it; he does it like he’s done it all his life, with such grace and confidence. That was just something to behold,” the director said. With all this in mind, we can say that despite the Drover being a fictional character, the director and the actor did their best to make him as realistic a person as possible.