Mark Coles Smith has some big shoes to fill with his latest role.
The Australian actor takes up the iconic role previously portrayed by Aaron Pedersen, as a young Jay Swan in the 1999-set prequel, “Mystery Road: Origin.” The season airs a new episode each Monday through Oct. 10, on Acorn TV.
The series follows Swan as he arrives at his new post in an Outback mining town, which is home to his estranged father and Mary, the woman who will change his life forever.
The freshly-minted detective finds himself in the middle of a series of heists by a masked gang and a reopened cold case with personal significance, as well as facing a tragic death, a burgeoning love, and the brutal reality of being a police officer straddling two worlds.
The series also stars Tuuli Narkle, Kelton Pell, Salme Geransar, Daniel Henshall, Toby Leonard Moore, Steve Bisley, Clarence Ryan, Hayley McElhinney, Lisa Flanagan and Caroline Brazier.
An Acorn TV Original, “Mystery Road: Origin” is produced by Bunya Productions for the ABC, with major production investment from Screen Australia’s First Nations Department in association with Screen West and the Western Australian Screen Fund supported through the State Government of WA’s Royalties for Regions program. The series is directed by Dylan River and produced by Greer Simpkin and David Jowsey.
Both seasons of original hit Australian crime drama, “Mystery Road,” premiered on Acorn TV in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
Coles Smith was a fan for the original “Mystery Road” and worked with Pedersen when he was 19 years old.
“That was many moons ago,” he says. “Aaron was a shining example of dignity and generosity. That always stayed with me and to be able to bring Jay Swan back to the screen is incredible.”
Coles Smith says while we know where Swan ends up, the prequel gives viewers an opportunity to see the events that made Swan the man he is.
“We’re exploring Jay’s story on who he is and how he becomes this weather-beaten detective,” he says. “We find Jay returning to his hometown of Jardine again. We learn over the course of the first few episodes that he has his life together and he’s doing well and looking for at a possible promotion.”
Coles Smith went into the series realizing that there’s already a fan base and he wanted to create another layer to Swan’s character.
“It’s really juicy stuff to play,” he says. “I care a lot about Jay and I identified with who he is as a person. The opportunity to put on Jay’s shoes meant that I am able to be part of something incredible. This series was an opportunity to return to that landscape.”
The series filmed for six months in Australia.
During that time, Coles Smith was able to learn more about Australia’s First Nations people.
“Jay’s character is a protector of Indigenous people,” he says. “The show has an international following and it represents something particularly to the First Nations people. Out in New Mexico, Indigenous people can relate to the stories that are being told.”