The British Are Coming (to Hulu)

Lennie James gets us acquainted with his BBC2 drama Line of Duty

Lennie James gets us acquainted with his BBC2 drama Line of Duty

Photo Courtesy of BBC | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

If you’ve always wanted to see Sol from Snatch in a police thriller, you’re in luck. Lennie James’ series Line of Duty, already a hit across the pond, recently debuted on Hulu, where it’s received such commenter raves as “awesome,” “nail-biting” and “every British cop show has this plot lolol.” We talked to James about what to expect from the show, and whether we’ll be seeing his return to The Walking Dead anytime soon. Get in on all the corrupt police action below.

Line of Duty has gone beyond BBC2 with its expansion to Hulu. Why should American audiences watch it?

Firstly I would say because I’m in it. And also because it’s a really great example of the quality drama that the BBC is putting out at the moment. It’s British writers and British actors getting a chance to do what they do at the top of their game. It’s a very interesting program, it’s like a roller coaster ride. Once you’re on it, it’s impossible to get off.

Photo Courtesy of BBC | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

What were some of the challenges in making Line of Duty?

The challenges for me were playing somebody who you get descriptions of from other people. You’re leaning on what their opinion is of him. So you could have the opinion of someone who thinks that Tony Gates is an arrogant, self-centered, manipulative, destructive man. You could have the opinion of someone who thinks Tony Gates is a hard-working, loyal, conscientious and fantastic cop. You could think like someone who thinks he’s a cheat and a philanderer, and on the other side you could think he’s a hero. So I think my biggest challenge was creating somebody for whom all of those things can be said, but not one of those descriptions would sum him up completely.

Was there a particular episode that was tough to film?

There was a scene I had with Martin Compston and Adrian Dunbar, and they’re investigating me. On the script, it was a 12-and-a-half page scene that was just us across the table asking questions and it didn’t really lend itself to being broken up into sections because there was a flow to the scene that just needed to go. You needed to hear the different points. And it was a warm room, we didn’t have a complete lock-off of the building that we were shooting in and we just went for the 12-and-a-half page scene. It was difficult to keep the energy up but it was also a huge amount of fun. Whatever difficulties we had on Line of Duty, I have to say that at all points, the work we were doing outweighed it completely.

Photo Courtesy of BBC | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

You were on Jericho, a series that was cancelled, fans rallied, and then it came back but was cancelled again. What are some shows that you really feel were cancelled too early?

I wish there were more episodes of Luck. I loved it, but I think it was maybe a show that you liked or you didn’t like. I thought it was grown-up television for grown-ups. I thought they were brilliant in showing these stunning relationships and writing in new and different ways about relationships between men. I thought it was across-the-board fantastic actors giving in some cases their best performances. I thought Dennis Farina was a revelation. He’s a very fantastic actor but a lot of the time he gets asked to play the same role over and over again and I think in Luck he got a chance to show a side of himself that we really don’t see enough of. I thought obviously Dustin Hoffman too, Nick Nolte was on a different level and the four guys who played the degenerates were just phenomenal. It’s something I wish there was more of. I kind of understand why there couldn’t have been more, but while it was happening I thought it was remarkable television.

You’ve hinted your character might return to The Walking Dead. Do you have an update on that?

I don’t actually at the moment. It’s one of those things where in the original graphic novels, it’s a long time before Morgan comes back around…you’ll just have to keep watching and see whether or not I turn up.

Line of Duty is now on Hulu. You can check out the first episode below!