Monday sees the start of a brand new 3-part BBC1 policital thriller starring Christopher Eccleston. The series also stars Sherlock’s Andrew Scott as a a drunken DC who is called in to investigate a murder.
Could you tell us about your character Detective Bevan and his role in Blackout?
Bevan is a very elusive character. I would say that after Sherlock I was looking to do something quite different and I suppose if Moriarty is a winner in certain aspects then you could say that Bevan would be perceived as a bit of a loser. He finds it very difficult to get on at work and also at home. He comes from a broken home, he’s been separated from his wife and kids for some time and he’s quite a sad character. The interesting thing about it for me is that he’s always changing. He’s a very surprising character in that sense. In one scene he’s a loser and then in another scene you might see him differently. He’s good at his job but underappreciated at the same time. He’s a kind of fascinating character to play and quite melancholy.
Early on we see Bevan and Detective Griffin (Danny Sapani) together. What is their relationship like and how is Bevan perceived in the force?
The word I would use is he’s ‘bullied’ by Griffin. He doesn’t have a very great manner about him and he hasn’t got the social skills to fit in. So like a lot of people who are bullied, people don’t see how talented he actually could be. What we discover throughout the series is that Bevan actually becomes quite obsessive about trying to get his job done and trying to find the truth.
The true line for Bevan’s character is that he’s a guy who wants to find out the truth. Whether he wants to find out the truth professionally or about what’s happening in his personal life, he’s very obsessive about that. I hope that the audience empathises with him because he’s got a lot of vulnerability about him, like a lot of these guys. I think we all know what it’s like when you feel incredibly frustrated.
You mentioned the difference between Bevan and Moriarty – how is this role different from other roles you’ve played in the past?
It is different and I like to do quite different things, going from one extreme to the other. I wouldn’t say he’s the complete opposite extreme of Moriarty, we’re still involved in the crime world, but there are differences. He is by no means a snappy dresser! It was liberating to play someone who people wouldn’t really look at in the street. He’s invisible in a weird way, people don’t respect him and he’s lost his mojo. He’s a lonely character.
Tell us a bit more about his relationship with Sylvie (MyAnna Buring)?
Bevan loves Sylvie desperately, and he finds it enormously difficult not to be able to see his children. Due to his slightly obsessive nature he goes about it the wrong way with Sylvie because he loves her so much. He probably smothers her a little bit too much, and that’s the reason that she chooses to get away. But it’s not for any dark reasons, although it may appear at times that he’s a dark character. He’s just very frustrated and talking to fathers who come from broken homes, that is something that they find terribly difficult having gone from seeing their children every day to not being able to see them at all. That’s what leads him to do some of the extreme things that he does.
How was it working with MyAnna Buring?
It was brilliant working with MyAnna, we had a fantastic time. It was nice that we didn’t have a huge amount of time together, even though our storylines are intertwined, the scenes that we do have really pack a punch. They don’t over-use them together. We see them on their single journeys quite a bit. She’s a really wonderful actress and very generous and kind to work with.
Can you tell us about the style of the drama?
There’s a very noir-ish vibe to the whole thing. It’s naturalism in the sense that it’s very truthfully written, but you wouldn’t describe it as an everyday naturalistic drama. There’s definitely a style to it, particularly with the main characters. The characters are normal but in extreme situations, and the way that we styled ourselves and our performances are on the same note.
What was working with director Tom Green like, and how did you go about preparing for the role?
I was very interested this time around in the way the character looked. We spent a lot of time discussing how Bevan would look and Tom was very open to all suggestions. A lot of his references are very filmic. I went in to meet him he really responded to my ideas about my character. Originally Bevan was described as a ‘big fridge of a man’ which obviously I am not. I wanted to bring my own take to it and make him more of a mental rather than physical fridge, if you can see what I mean. So Tom was very collaborative and creative and I had a great time with him.
How is Bevan involved with Daniel (Christopher Eccleston’s character)?
It’s very ambiguous as to what information Bevan has about Daniel. That ambiguity is very important. The audience probably know more about what the link between Bevan and Daniel is than Daniel and Bevan do. Throughout the three parts they’re moving closer and closer together, and that’s what you should feel. We know that they’re linked but we don’t know exactly how and how much. That’s what makes it interesting. When they do meet I felt that scene between Chris and myself very electrifying to play. I’ve worked with Chris before (Lennon Naked), so I know how much of a brilliant actor he is and I really enjoyed our scenes together.
So what was it like working with Chris again?
It was terrific. He’s incredibly generous and he’s always been very supportive to me. He’s got a really good eye for what the story is, and I think people have an association with Chris and very high quality acting and pieces. I’m thrilled to have worked with him again, I think he’s one of our best actors.
What made you want to become involved in the drama?
I thought it was very different. When I first read it I didn’t know exactly what it was, which always helps. You think, this is a story that I don’t know already and I was interested to see what way they were going to produce it. The thing that drew me to it was the great story, and chiefly it was such a departure from the last thing I filmed, which was Sherlock. It was nice to be able to do the flip side and be playing a detective rather than a criminal. There’s also a family drama at the centre of it as well which is really interesting. I think it’s got a dark sensibility but it’s very accessible and colourful.
Blackout begins Monday 2nd July on BBC1