Aussie Series ‘The Clearing’ Is About to Drop, and It’s Inspired By a Real Life Cult

The Clearing Teresa Palmer Miranda Otto Details Release Date Disney+ streaming Australian original show

“Are you ready for your clearing?”

Disney+ Australian original series The Clearing is about to premiere, and it’s loosely inspired by Australian doomsday cult The Family.

The Clearing is an eight-part scripted series starring Warm Bodies actress Teresa PalmerLord of the Rings Miranda Otto, and Memento‘s Guy Pearce, and while the series is actually based on the J.P. Pomare novel In the Clearing, there are elements of truth lurking in the series.

In the Clearing is a crime fiction novel that took inspiration from The Family and other cults around the world, but the blonde hair certainly makes the connection to The Family clear.

Last year, The Walt Disney Company announced their first slate of Australian original content set to land on Disney+. The line up included scripted dramas, documentaries and lifestyle programming, and featured some of Australia’s finest actors.

In a press statement, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand said: “We’re proud this Australian story The Clearing debuts globally on Disney+ under our Star entertainment banner on May 24.

“This is our first Australian produced scripted series and there’s more to come,” Watson-Wheeler added.

Here’s everything we know so far about the Disney+ Original, The Clearing.

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What Is The Clearing About?

The Clearing is an eight-part psychological thriller, in which a woman is forced to confront the nightmares of her past to stop a secret cult intent on gathering children to fulfil its master plan.

Is The Clearing Based on a True Story?

The Clearing, while not directly based on a true story, is an adaptation of J.P. Pomare’s novel In the Clearing, which was inspired by the real life events of Australian cult The Family, and its founder Anne Hamilton-Byrne.

Hamilton-Byrne was one of the rare female cult leaders in history, and she was very dangerous. Believing that she was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, Hamilton-Byrne founded the The Family, a doomsday cult that was most prominent from the 1960s through to the 1990s. Hamilton-Byrne passes away in 2019 at the age of 98.

Hamilton-Byrne and her husband Bill acquired many children, either through adoption scams or from cult members, and raised them as her own.

Cut off from the outside world, the children were raised in isolation, where they wore matching outfits and had their hair bleached the same shade of blonde.

Allegedly, the children were beaten, starved, and injected with LSD. Police raided the isolated property and freed the children in 1987, but Hamilton-Byrne was only ever convicted of fraud. She was ordered to pay A$5,000 in fines, and died in an aged care facility.

At the time of her death, former Victoria police detective Lex de Man, who investigated Hamilton-Byrne at the time, offered the following quote to The Guardian:

“The normal reaction when you receive the news of the death of someone is one of sadness,” he said. “It’s quite the contrary for me today. Today was a great day in that she is now dead. She can rot.

“The lives that she affected and her evil deeds, I shed no tear. Not one drop.”

Is There a Trailer for The Clearing?

There is! Watch the trailer for The Clearing below:

Who Directed The Clearing?

The Clearing is directed by Jeffrey Walker. Walker is coming in hot off the heels of Young Rock, the show about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s childhood. Gracie Otto, who has previously worked on Seriously Red, Bump and Deadloch, is also directing the series.

In a press statement, Walker said that The Clearing is “a haunting psychological thriller” and noted that it features “some of Australia’s finest talent in front, and behind, the lens”.

“An extraordinary senior cast in Teresa, Miranda and Guy, are supported by breakthrough young actors, Julia and Lily. The atmosphere and mood of this piece is so unique, I truly hope that it captivates, enthralls and thrills the audience,” he continued.

Who Wrote The Clearing?

The Clearing is both created and written by Elise McCredie and Matt Cameron, and co-written by Osamah Sami.

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Who Is Starring in The Clearing?

Leading the stellar cast for The Clearing are Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto and Guy Pearce, alongside Hazem Shammas and Mark Coles-Smith.

The supporting cast includes:

  • Kate Mulvany (The Twelve)
  • Xavier Samuel (Elvis),
  • Claudia Karvan (Bump)
  • Anna Lise Phillips (Irreverent, Fires)
  • Harry Greenwood (Wakefield, The Nightingale)
  • Erroll Shand (The Luminaries)
  • Doris Younane (Five Bedrooms)
  • Miah Madden (Dive Club)
  • Julia Savage (Blaze, Mr Inbetween)
  • Gary Sweet (Wentworth)
  • Alicia Gardiner (Offspring, Deadloch)
  • Matt Okine (The Other Guy)
  • Jeremy Blewitt (The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart)
  • Lily La Torre (Run Rabbit Run)
  • Ras-Samuel Welda’abzgi (Neighbours)

Where Was The Clearing Filmed?

The Clearing was filmed across Victoria, but there’s no word just yet on specific filming locations. Stay tuned, though! As soon as we know more, we’ll update this post.

How to Watch The Clearing

The Clearing will premiere on Disney+ under the Star banner on May 24, 2023. It will be a two-episode premiere, and the remaining six episodes will drop on Wednesday each week.

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