Hunter Page Lochard in ‘Cleverman’ season two. 

When Goalpost Pictures’ Rosemary Blight visited Weta Worksop in Wellington to discuss ideas for the new world in Cleverman season 2, the firm’s founder Sir Richard Taylor had an inspired suggestion.

“Let’s create an iconic Hairy that no one will ever forget,” Taylor said. To play the character named Jarli the Bindawu warrior, the producers cast Clarence Ryan, who first worked for Goalpost as a teenager in the children’s series Lockie Leonard 10 years ago. He played Egg, Lockie’s best friend.

Jarli is one of several new characters which make the sequel “bolder, even bigger and better and more compelling as we put the characters under even more pressure,” Blight told IF.

Directed by Wayne Blair and Leah Purcell, the six-part futuristic sci-fi drama co-produced by Goalpost and New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures premieres at 9.30 pm on June 29 on the ABC and at 10 pm on June 28 on Sundance TV in the US.

The story picks up with the destruction of the Zone and the Hairy people splitting up as they hide around the city in fear for their lives. Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard), the chosen Cleverman, sets out to harness his powers in hopes of bringing all the cultures together.

His half-brother Waruu (Rob Collins) shares the same vision but his methods are dubious. For Koen to realize his mission, he must defeat Waruu and the full force of the government.

The writers are Jane Allen, Stuart Page, Justine Juel Gillmer, the series creator Ryan Griffen and Jada Alberts.

Among the new characters, Luke Ford plays Dolan, who forms a relationship with Nerida (Alberts), while Taylor Ferguson (Strangerland) is Audie. Blight predicts Ferguson is destined to become a star in the US.

The ensemble cast includes Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), Frances O’Connor (The Missing), Deborah Mailman (Offspring) and Rachael Blake (Rake). Weta created all the Hairies in the new world and the props they use.

For viewers who missed the first series, it is now screening on ABC iview and the sequel will include a recap.

ABC head of scripted production Sally Riley said, “The Cleverman world expands in this thrilling second season introducing new characters and deepening relationships with our established characters. It’s an exciting ride for new and returning audiences.”

Blight is happy with the 9.30 timeslot, noting that the target audience is rather younger than traditional ABC viewers, who often watch shows on their mobile phones, tablets and on catch-up.

BBC3 and TVNZ are on board again and the international distributor Red Arrow International has sold the series to a raft of other territories including Germany, Canada and South Africa. Now there are 12 episodes it will be easier to sell to the remaining markets.

The producers screened the first two episodes at the Sydney Film Festival and were gratified when audience members said they wanted to see more.

Will there be a Cleverman 3? Blight said: “We are heading into the writers’ room for early development of season 3 in the next couple of weeks. We are going into the room to discover what the underlying theme would be.”

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