‘Nashville’ star Clare Bowen and Bryan Brown lead the cast of ‘Hungry Ghosts’

Bryan Brown and Clare Bowen.

After appearing in all six seasons of US musical drama Nashville, Clare Bowen has returned to Australia to star alongside Bryan Brown in SBS’s Hungry Ghosts.

Matchbox Pictures’ four-part character-driven ghost story based on an original idea by Timothy Hobart explores three generations of Vietnamese Australian families, all haunted by the traumatic events of war.

Four weeks into a seven week shoot, the Shawn Seet-directed series opens on the eve of the Hungry Ghost Festival in Melbourne when a vengeful spirit is unleashed, wreaking havoc across the Vietnamese Australian community.

The large ensemble cast also features Catherine Davies, Justine Clarke, Ryan Corr, Ferdinand Hoang, Gareth Yuen, Jillian Nguyen, Hoa Xuande, Suzy Wrong, Gary Sweet and Susie Porter.

Brown plays Neil Stockton, a photographer famous for his collection of Vietnam War photographs which are featured in an exhibition that has ripple effects.

Bowen, who played budding songwriter Scarlett O’Connor in Nashville, which aired here on Stan, plays his daughter Liz.

In her first major TV role, experienced stage actress Catherine Davies is May Li, a former chef who begins to understand that she alone has the power to control the evil spirits.

Ryan Corr is a first-year doctor who encounters May Li, Sweet is a shape-shifter and Porter is a UN worker who is infected by ghosts.

Stephen Corvini and Hobart are producing the series with funding from Screen Australia, SBS, Film Victoria and NBCUniversal International Distribution.

Hobart conceived the idea of a series involving the transfer of trauma from one generation of trauma survivors to subsequent generations about a year ago and developed the concept with John Ridley. Given the subject, they enlisted the help of playwright Michelle Lee and brothers Alan and Jeremy Nguyen.

Justine Clarke in ‘Hungry Ghosts.’

Corvini tells IF: “The series looks at a prominent part of society, the Australian Vietnamese community, and is unlike any Australian TV drama we have seen before. It’s about families and how they deal with the traumas of the past in the present.”

The producer had long wanted to work with Seet and considers the Asian Australian director the ideal choice for this production. Bruce Young is the DOP and the casting directors are Maura Fay Casting’s Marianne Jade and Leigh Pickford. The EPs are Sue Masters and Debbie Lee.

Marshall Heald, SBS director of TV and online content, said: “Hungry Ghosts continues SBS’s run of making diverse and thought-provoking drama, following Safe Harbour, On The Ropes and the recently announced The Hunting.

“This series is full of heart and resilience – a captivating drama that will engage audiences. I’m proud that Hungry Ghosts will showcase fresh, diverse local talent, something that SBS is incredibly passionate about.”

Matchbox Pictures MD Alastair McKinnon added: “Hungry Ghosts is a stunningly original story that will shock, haunt and move audiences with its bold examination of how we, as humans, confront the painful stories of our past.”

The series will premiere on SBS and SBS on Demand later this year.