Monday sees the start of an exciting new three-parter on ITV. Prey, stars John Simm as DS Marcus Farrow. Farrow is a normal family man who is forced to go on the run to clear his name. In an new interview with ITV John about what drew him to the role and the injury he sustained during filming.
Tell us about your character, Marcus Farrow, and your take on him?
Marcus Farrow is a hardworking Manchester detective (DS) who is devoted to his wife and two sons. However, when we meet him it’s fair to say his relationship with wife Abi (Heather Peace) is going through a “rough patch”, he’s living apart from them but is confident they can get their relationship back on track. He’s a great dad and would do anything for his two boys.
Marcus is very much a man on the run. How did you prepare for the physical nature of the role – there’s a lot of running, stunts and action?
It is a very physical role so I prepared by upping my gym work. When you hit your mid forties it’s a good idea to keep fitness levels up!
You suffered an injury at one stage during filming. What happened?
We were filming a scene where Marcus is being chased through fields and ends up wading through a river, it was very cold, we were on about the third take of me clambering up this wet verge, and as I launched myself forward my foot slipped and I felt my calf muscle tear. I’ve never had any problems with my calf muscles before, and it wasn’t as if I hadn’t stretched and prepared correctly, so I guess it was just bad luck. I’ve never torn any muscle but there’s a first time for everything! It was frustrating, as we had to halt filming for a while as the muscle healed and I had physio, but I was raring to go when we resumed filming in the New Year and there were no more problems. It was a very physical role, lots of running, hanging off bridges and climbing fences, hard work, but I must say I absolutely loved it.
What advantages does Marcus have in trying to outsmart former colleagues now trying to hunt him down?
He’s a detective. He knows the methods they’ll use to find him, he knows all the procedures and he knows Manchester, so he has a head start over his colleagues. Always one step ahead. When he’s really up against it he’s desperate and willing to go to any lengths to prove his innocence, that’s when we see how good he is at his job.
Chris Lunt is a TV newcomer. What did you think of the scripts when you first read them?
Chris has done a really great job with the scripts, it’s a cracking, high-octane, fast-paced unapologetic thriller, and it never stands still, never lets up. But the characters are real and complex and completely believable. When I read it I just thought it was terrific stuff, unlike anything I’ve done before. There are so many factors in taking a role; I don’t want to start repeating myself by doing the same thing again and again because that would be dull. The script reminded me of The Fugitive and I’m a big fan of Harrison Ford, so it was exciting to say yes to it. As a father, I can absolutely relate to the horror Farrow feels to be in this situation. Sometimes as an actor you have to put yourself in a horrible place to convincingly portray a certain emotion, it’s not very nice but you have to draw from real life.
There are lots of locations, which were used across Greater Manchester. How was it filming there?
Manchester is very familiar to me, I spent my formative years there, going to see bands, watching football, clubbing, hanging around The Arndale and Afflex Palace, and I’ve worked there so many times. But there were certainly some back alleys that I’d never run down before! It’s a great city, my spiritual home. My parents still live nearby so I’m up there quite a bit.
Prey has a strong supporting cast. Can you discuss working with your co-stars?
Craig Parkinson (Devlin) is a mate, but we’d never worked together before so it was good to get an opportunity to do that. Anastasia Hille and I went to the same drama school and I’ve long been an admirer of her work, she’s a wonderful actress, so it was a thrill to get to work with her.
Rosie was a revelation to me; I’d seen her do comedy before but not something like this. She’s one of the most natural actors I’ve ever seen in my life. You watch her acting but she’s not actually ‘acting’ at all, it’s a great quality to have. I think they all give exceptional performances.
What else do you have coming up in 2014?
“I’ve just finished filming the first block of Intruders for BBC America; it’s based on the novel by Michael Marshall and written by Glen Morgan (The X-Files). I play an ex LAPD cop turned author called ‘Jack Whelan’, it’s filming in Vancouver and so far it’s been a wonderful experience. I’m filming it back to back with series 2 of The Village so I’m clocking up those air miles!”
Prey starts Monday 28th April at 9.00pm on ITV
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