Hulu's 'The Clearing' Cast on Why They Didn't Read the Book Before Filming (EXCLUSIVE)

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May 25 2023, Published 10:28 a.m. ET

Teresa Palmer in 'The Clearing'
Source: Hulu

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Clearing and mentions of abuse.

Streaming dynamites Disney Plus, and Hulu are killing it with the murder mystery miniseries lately. From the people who gave you Saint X comes The Clearing, an eight-part miniseries starring Teresa Palmer (A Discovery of Witches) and Miranda Otto (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as two opposing forces surrounding an Australian cult.

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The series is partially based on a book called In the Clearing, written by J. P. Pomare in 2019, but it has more than one source of inspiration.

Is The Clearing based on a true story? Keep reading for everything you need to know about The Clearing; plus, Distractify exclusively spoke to series leads Miranda Otto and Teresa Palmer about the book adaptation.

Teresa Palmer as Freya in 'The Clearing.'
Source: Hulu
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Is 'The Clearing' based on a true story?

While The Clearing is technically based on a book, the book, and the show have a basis in truth.

If you thought real-life cults couldn't get worse than Peoples Temple or the antics of Teal Swan, you'd be shocked by the Australian New Age cult "The Family" that formed in the mid-1960s. The Family lasted until a police raid in the 1980s under the leadership of yoga teacher Anne Hamilton-Byrne.

According to The Guardian, the Family "obtained" 28 children and housed them in a rural estate on Lake Eildon. Once there, the kids were subjected to horrific physical abuse and drugging. One of the odd aspects of the cult included forcing the children to bleach their hair blonde to resemble a "family" and wear matching outfits.

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Children in the Kindred cult in 'The Clearing' miniseries.
Source: Hulu

Directors of The Clearing, Jeffrey Walker and Gracie Otto, emphasize to The Guardian that viewers should not expect a faithful beat-for-beat retelling of the Family — the miniseries is not a documentary. In the show, "The Family" has been renamed "The Kindred," for example.

Additionally, Jeffrey says that while the initial episodes are faithful to the book, fans should expect some expansion on the material in the series "to take on a cinematic life of its own."

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The cast of 'The Clearing' avoided book spoilers while they were filming.

Speaking exclusively with Distractify, Miranda Otto and Teresa Palmer revealed whether or not they read In the Clearing before beginning filming.

"You know, what, we haven't read the book, we didn't read the book on purpose, because the series is slightly removed from the book again. And because the series is so complex, in the way that it's written, it felt like to read the book at that point was just going to confuse me even more," Miranda told us.

Miranda Otto as Adrienne Beaufort, mysterious cult leader, in 'The Clearing.'
Source: Hulu
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Teresa added that the series will defy even book readers' theories. "It's the sort of show that keeps you on your toes because you think it's heading in one direction, and then all of a sudden, it'll take a sharp right turn. And you're completely floored," she said.

The book is told in two timelines: Amy, an unwitting member of the Kindred, and Freya, a yoga teacher and single mom with a young son named Billy. It's later revealed that Freya is Amy, who escaped the cult, but now, after the disappearance of a young girl, she must face her past to prevent the cult from harming her or her son.

Fans will have to see just how far the show deviated from the book streaming on May 24, 2023.

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