The ABC's twist on Anna Karenina is beautiful viewing

Benedict Samuel, Sarah Snook and Rodger Corser star in the TV series The Beautiful Lie.
Benedict Samuel, Sarah Snook and Rodger Corser star in the TV series The Beautiful Lie. Ben King

ACTRESS Sarah Snook continues to take up interesting roles, and The Beautiful Lie is no exception.

The AFI Award-winner stars in the ABC's innovative new drama - a modern interpretation of Tolstoy's literary classic Anna Karenina.

In the six-part miniseries, Snook plays Anna Ivin, a retired tennis champion who has been married to fellow sports star Xander (Rodger Corser) for seven years.

"We presume she had a very public life, and perhaps they had to present (to the public) they were happy," Snook tells APN.

"Perhaps things had broken down in the marriage that both of them were unaware of."

When Anna flies home to help save the marriage of her brother Kingsley she happens to meet music producer Skeet (Benedict Samuel) and they fall into an instant and helpless attraction that will ultimately unravel both of their lives.

Sarah Snook and Benedict Samuel in a scene from The Beautiful Lie.
Sarah Snook and Benedict Samuel in a scene from The Beautiful Lie. ABC TV

It doesn't help that Skeet has just proposed to her sister-in-law's younger sister Kitty (Sophie Lowe).

"We needed to make sure it really felt like there was something genuine and real between Skeet and Anna to make it reasonable for her to feel she had to leave her partner and child," Snook says.

"It has to be unable to be lived without.

"Sure love at first sight can exist, but you've got to be able to sustain that. That's where the pitfalls are and how Anna and Skeet are taken down."

Snook is full of praise for Samuel, who graduated from NIDA six years ago and currently has a supporting role in the movie The Walk.

"Benedict is amazing," she says.

"He is very magnetic and is such a charismatic actor on screen. By casting someone like that, it makes (the affair) believable."

She believes many of the novel's central themes are still relevant today, more than 140 years after the first instalment of Anna Karenina was published.

"You were allowed to have a mistress as long as you said you weren't in love with them. For Anna and Vronsky to say they'd fallen in love in the book was quite a scandal at the time," she says.

"I think that's still true today. To be a well-known public figure and then to leave your family and have a very public scandal (is still frowned on). It's just society is now on the internet.

"Part of the fun of the show was seeing if it did translate from 1800s pastoral Russia into contemporary Melbourne, and I think it does. Humans are humans and we all experience love, mistakes and happiness."

The Beautiful Lie also stars Gina Riley, Alexander England, Celia Pacquola, Dan Wyllie, Catherine McClements and Robert Menzies.

The Beautiful Lie premieres on tonight at 8.30pm on ABC1.

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