Tue 09 Feb 2016, 10:00
See what Laurie says about his character.
AMC brings us The Night Manager – get ready for thrills, chills and some serious plot spills. The intriguing new thriller is bound to get you hooked when it premieres at 20:00 on Monday 22 February.
Acclaimed actor Hugh Laurie (House) stars as arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper. Keeping a close eye on Tom Hiddleston (Pine), he tries to see if he can be trusted -
See what Hugh had to say about being part of The Night Manager:
How long ago did you get involved with The Night Manager and what was it that attracted you to the story in the first place?
I fell in love with this book when I first read it back in 1993. I’d worshipped [John] le Carré since I was a teenager, but this story in particular, I found endlessly intriguing, powerful and romantic - mythic almost.
This is a contemporary adaptation of the novel. How does that change the story and fit in with our world right now?
I suppose it’s a characteristic of myths that they’re in some sense eternal. Stories that can stand to be told and retold at any time, in any setting. Usually I would say that trying to make things contemporary is a fool’s errand, because events will always overtake you. The original story involved an arms dealer – Richard Roper, who I play – selling weapons to the Colombian drug cartels. And perhaps the cartels seemed less ‘relevant’ these days but recently a Mexican army helicopter was shot down by the cartels with a surface-to-air missile, and the Mexican government essentially admitted they were at war with an incredibly well-armed force and had no idea where the weapons were coming from. Le Carré writes it, and 20 years later, it happens. In any case, we have transplanted the story, beginning with the Arab Spring which began in 2010 (another event, by the way, that no-one saw coming – for all the CIA satellites circling over our heads – no news organisation or intelligence agency predicted it) and moving it to the present day. David Farr, the writer has done an incredible job of reinventing a large part of the story to accommodate a different continent and a different set of events. I hope that we have been able to give it a sort of contemporary freshness while retaining something of that mythic quality.
This is an epic production. Can you tell us a bit about the locations that were visited?
We have been to some absolutely breath-taking places. We began in Switzerland, in Zermatt. It’s quite something to open your bedroom window and see the Matterhorn staring down at you. We then spent six weeks in Morocco, before filming in Mallorca for five weeks. Not a day has gone by without a member of the cast saying, “I cannot believe that I am actually here doing this”. It’s out of good fortune that we happen to be playing characters who live a very luxurious, jet-setty life and that means in order to do it, we have to live it.
Pine (Tom Hiddleston), Roper (Hugh Laurie) © 2015 AMC Network Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Credit: Mitch Jenkins
Tell us about the characters:
At the heart of the story is the dynamic between Roper and Pine. The character of Pine is a lost soul – I suppose that’s one of the things I responded to when I first read the novel and keep responding to whenever I’ve read it since. He is noble, courageous, honourable and decent but he is looking for a cause, a purpose, and decides that he will take on an enemy who is described to him by a lover as ‘the worst man in the world’ – that is Roper’s legend, and that’s what I’ve got to try and inhabit. It’s an ambiguous story in as much as Pine’s original goal is to bring down this monster, but at the same time he has to resist the fact that the monster is – as many monsters are – an attractive, seductive and charming one who gives the evil things that he does a kind of logic, almost a glamour.
There are moments when Pine teeters on the edge of the dark side, when you wonder which way he will go. You wonder whether Roper is teetering too – perhaps he want to be caught, he wants to be betrayed. The audience has to judge for themselves where Pine and Roper are close to crossing the line in opposite directions – where Roper might plunge the dagger into his own chest and where Pine might become the very thing he set out to destroy. That’s what I mean by a mythic struggle. It’s an absolutely fascinating exploration, and I think this about so much of le Carré’s writing. Some describe him as a spy writer, but his stories so far transcend the idea of genre; he uses the world of the spy and the intelligence business to examine the profoundest human questions. I hope we do it justice!
Tune in to the premiere of The Night Manager on AMC (DStv channel 140), 20:00 on Monday 22 February.