"I burst into tears." Claudia Jessie on retelling a survivor's story in the Stan Original Series Bali 2002.

It was the scene Claudia Jessie was most nervous to film. 

The actress was playing real-life British tourist Polly Miller, who had just survived a bomb that ripped through the Sari Club in Bali in 2002, after going out with her newlywed husband and a group of friends. 

"Getting up covered in the [debris], crawling around and screaming out for your loved ones, just being able to do that justice, I think that was the one I was most nervous for," Claudia told Mamamia

But as the cameras began rolling for the first take, the emotions of the scene started to weigh on her. 

"I did the first run of it, [the director] called cut, and I just burst into tears," she shared. 

"It's a lot. But it has to be that because it has to be true. And we need to be respectful of the truth of what happened."

Watch the trailer for the Stan Original Series Bali 2002. Post continues blow. 

The actress is retelling Polly's story in the new Stan Original Series Bali 2002, which premiers on Sunday September 25.

The four-part series, which also stars Aussie actors Rachel Griffiths, Richard Roxburgh and Sean Keenan, explores the everyday heroes who came together after the tragic events of October 12, 2002. 

That night, a bomb went off inside a van outside the Sari Club, along the beachside tourist strip in Kuta. It was the second bomb to explode that night, after a suicide bomber wearing a backpack walked into the Paddy’s Irish Bar moments earlier. 

The attack went on to claim the lives of 202 people, including 88 Australians, becoming the single largest loss of Australian life due to an act of terror. 


Polly was one of the hundreds of people injured in the attack. Tragically, her husband and group of friends she went out with that night became nine of the 28 Britons killed. 

20 years on, retelling Polly's story and an attack felt around the world, has come with an emotional toll  

"I have felt like I've just wanted to sob whilst being here. I haven't, I've just left it for the scenes," said Claudia. 

"I have felt a knot in my stomach the whole time, it's quite bizarre. But that's the part of the job that you love, you get to [tell] these different stories and this one's particularly special because of how much it will mean to people." 

Looking back, she said the scene that weighed on her the "heaviest" during filming was when Polly, who suffered burns to 43 percent of her body, learned that she was the only one in her group who survived. 

"It's just horrific," she recalled. 

"Polly is in hospital, she would have been drugged up to her eyeballs because of the extreme excruciating pain she was going through. And then her mother has to explain that they haven't found her husband or any of her friends. They're gone."

Image: Stan. 


When retelling Polly's story of loss and survival in the series, Claudia wanted to be as authentic as possible.

"Rather than becoming a caricature of Polly, I just wanted to make it as true as possible, as honest as possible."

That meant portraying who Polly really is as a person, beyond a survivor. 

"What I want to make sure that I get across about Polly is that whilst she's obviously remarkable and incredibly strong and sort of wildly resilient, she’s also fun… she's got a really dry, wicked sense of humour… She has a real lust for life, she has a very full life and that is inspiring alone, irrespective of everything that she's been through."

The authenticity was something I noticed when I visited the set of the series earlier this year. 

From the moment I stepped onto the set in Sydney, I felt like I was walking through a bustling Bali street, filled with brightly coloured shop fronts and the smell of incense. 

Even the street set up to recreate the aftermath of the bombings gave a sense of the sheer horror and devastation that was left in the wake of the attack - lined with burnt cars, rubble and buildings blackened from fire. 


For Executive Producer Tim Pye, there was a responsibility when retelling a traumatic event on this scale.

"When I spoke to survivor, Natalie Goold, one of the first things she said to me was ‘you must get it right and not sugar-coat the experience for the audience’. It was so important to reach out to the real people whose stories we are telling and all of them were so generous in giving us details about what they experienced, how they lived through it, and how they came out the other side."

For Claudia, that meant speaking with Polly, who she's ended up developing a "really nice" friendship with. 

"We both had this real bond and level of respect between us from the beginning, and she was really supportive," the actress said. 

By revisiting a tragic moment in recent history, Claudia hopes the series sheds light on the strength and compassion of the human spirit. 

"The thing I hope people would come away with the most is that, yes, the show does display the capacity of human beings in their power to do terrible things… But what the show also does is show the other side of that same coin, which is resilience, compassion, altruism, strength, how people will support others in a time of need to their best of their ability [and] how people can get through something as unthinkable as this," she says.  

"I think the show displays the beautiful capacity of human beings."

The Stan Original Series Bali 2002 premieres 25 September, only on Stan.

Feature Image: Stan. 

Love watching TV and movies? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.