As we build up to Series 5 of Peaky Blinders at the end of the month, Our Michael Lee sits down with members of the cast to find out what we can expect.
Series four was a tough ride for Michael Gray (Finn Cole) who suffered the loss of his brother at the behest of smarmy supervillain Lucas Changretta. Michael was shot in the incident but survived and so convincing was his bond with the walking stick I fully expected Finn to be hobbling as he approached me. In full health, he sat down and divulged all he was allowed to about the new series.
Michael has had quite the evolution since we were introduced to him in series two.
“I’m so grateful to be able to explore a character in this way. What Steven (Knight) does so nicely is bring back the show every time with a couple of years in between so it allows for things to evolve. It’s very satisfying. The two-year gap is life-changing for all the characters. We reflect as actors how to approach these roles and that’s what keeps the show current and exciting.
When I first auditioned my approach was always to attack it how Tommy would attack it. Instead of saying ‘”I can do this” saying “you need me”. I am genetically built to be part of this family and what it is to be a Peaky Blinder. That’s been Michael’s approach from day one‘
Steven’s writing must be heaven-sent for an actor?
“People have asked me “Are you scared of the chop? Scared of that scene when you get shot in the head?” My answer is no because if or when that scene happens I know it will happen at the perfect time for the character, for the story and for the better of the show. It always has done. In many ways I’m very excited about when or if that day comes. I trust in the process. I trust the writer”
Michael was sent to America, is that where we find him now?
“We find Michael in Detroit during the stock market crash and he comes back to Birmingham in order to help fix things. We also get the new generation coming through with the younger Peakys so we get more of a sense of who Michael is and where he belongs. He’s very enigmatic. He’s thriving to be the best”
What becomes of his relationship with Polly this year?
“I think what Michael wants is not what Polly wants. She sees a bit of herself in him but she’s the boss and Michael had never fully appreciated that”
Are things still strained with Tommy?
“There is rivalry and always has been. The trust and betrayal is something we explore a lot. It shows the potential of what these guys can achieve together and where that goes this series is exciting. Steve has massaged that and continues to. There are so many parallels between the two of them”
Finn is also starting to make waves in cinemas Recently he appeared in Slaughterhouse Rulez and next year will join the neverending Fast And The Furious franchise on film number 34. 35?..50? Who’s counting? International fame though will surely never beat family.
What was it like filming without your brother Joe?
“It was sad! I was asking everyone on set to say a prayer! We had such a great time on the show and it’s sad not to have had more time”
Is there any jealousy on his behalf?!
“When I told him I was coming today (to the screening later) he was “Oh mate, I really want to see it!” so I think he’s really excited to see the show as an audience member and see how my character evolves. He’s asked to read the scripts and I’ve told him no!
Thankfully, his sibling rivalry is just reserved for the Shelby clan then.
Peaky Blinders Returns Sunday 25th August at 9.00pm on BBC One.