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David Thewlis Interview

I Am Very, Very Conscious Of The Fact That We Are Telling The Story Of Real People

9th December 2021
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Landscapers is available from 7th December 2021 on Sky and Now TV with the following interview provided by Sky.

What story is Landscapers telling?
Well, it’s about Susan and Christopher Edwards who were arrested and imprisoned for the murder of Susan’s parents back in 1998, for financial motives according to the court case. We investigate that in a very unusual way exploring their emotional and sometimes fantastical motives in a rather surreal way.

What did you like about the story?
Simply, Ed Sinclair’s script. It was one of the best things I’ve ever had come through to my inbox. I read it all in one go. It just read like a wonderful book. It was very moving and I just thought the characters were fantastic. The dialogue is solid gold and it’s just been a pleasure to learn every day. I think it’s the most extraordinary story because we are going against the grain, when framing this strange, strange murder case. But, the script was the very first thing.

What did you know of this story beforehand and how has making the show changed your preconceptions? What research did you do into the role?
I wasn’t aware of the case at all, no. Strangely, I’m a big consumer of the news and I don’t remember it at all, so I had to go back and research and even then, I didn’t find that much about the real story. And nor did I really want to go too much into depth and get the court transcripts because it wasn’t really that useful or appropriate for what we’ve been creating here. I’m not sure it would have even been useful to meet the real Christopher for the purposes of the story that we’re telling in the way that we’re telling it. But I am very, very conscious of the fact that we are telling the story of real people and in a rather contentious way and do therefore feel enormous responsibility to the people, to the victims of those people and to anyone who was involved in this story. I didn’t read every single thing I could get my hands on because it’s all there in the script. It was Ed’s job to do that and then present us with these characters in what became almost a fictionalised piece of work for the rest of us.

There’s a lot of so-called True Crime around at the moment. How does Landscapers eschew that genre?
What sets it apart is that it’s not really a true crime drama, it is a story of what we commonly know now as codependence, or a love story. Obviously it’s about a story that is a true crime but it’s certainly not a procedural. It’s not a whodunnit, we don’t need to follow the investigation, follow the clues so much because right from the beginning, we know the situation. Of course, there’s a thriller element to it where plot points are slowly revealed, but we concentrate on the characters and the emotional relationships. We’re also doing it in an experimental, surrealistic, fantastical way that hopefully will be entertaining and challenging for an audience because it’s something you don’t see very often.

Landscapers has very distinctive filming style – can you tell us the fantasy elements of the show and your experience filming these scenes?
So, Susan’s world is a fantasy world based on the old Hollywood movies, predominately the Western movies of Gary Cooper and specifically High Noon is the one that we mention the most. But she had an extraordinary cast of heroes and idols, old Hollywood stars of that time, something that features heavily in Landscapers. It felt very different when we were making the Western world because that was literally all shot on location. We were dressed as cowboys and we all looked very different and we all behaved different. And it’s something that as British actors, we don’t get to do very often – if ever – so that was a great novelty.

What’s it like working with Olivia Colman and what does she bring to the role of Susan?
Working with Olivia Colman has been one of the funniest times of my whole career. She’s, of course, wonderful company and one of the greatest actresses in the world. She has such a gift for comedy and tragedy simultaneously that it’s just exceptional to act opposite her. Having seen her for years on the screen to being thrown into this has been just pure pleasure. We have laughed and laughed and laughed. I’ve learned a lot from her. There’s never a dull moment with Olivia.

What’s it been like working with Will Sharpe?
It has been a real pleasure to work with Will because, quite simply, he’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with. He’s level headed and has laser sharp accuracy. You feel in good hands because he knows exactly what he’s doing. As a director, he’s absolutely at the top. He talks through everything in a beautifully concise, articulate way and his notes are always worth listening to and applying

Find our episode by episode review of Landscapers here.

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