Newton joins Underbelly prequel

Matthew Newton (TVs ”Stupid, Stupid, Man”, “Queen of the Damned”, left) has signed on to star in the prequel to “Underbelly”, says The Daily Telegraph.

Newton, 31, would play Terry “Mr Asia” Clark in the second series of the hotly anticipated prequel.

Ironically, Newton knocked back a role in the original “Underbelly”.

Clark (1944-1983), known as Mr Asia, was the ruthless head of a New Zealand drug syndicate which imported heroin into New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom in the 1970s, and was responsible for a string of deaths.

He was imprisoned for the murder of his associate Marty Johnstone, whose battered and handless body was found in Eccleston Delph, a flooded quarry in the north of England. He died in prison in 1983, officially of natural causes, but speculation arose that he was secretly murdered.

Also on board are Roy Billing (“The Dish”) as crime boss Robert Trimbole, Andrew MacFarlane (TVs “The Flying Doctors”) as anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay, and Peter O’Brien (“The Return”) as racing identity George Freeman.

The new series, set to screen in 2009, steps back in time to follow the NSW criminal groups.

“It’s exciting,” a source close to the production says.

“The series is complex but will show how two crime worlds collided. There’s the old, traditional way of organised crime, SP bookies and illegal gambling. Then there’s the introduction of the drug scene.”