Samuel Barnett on becoming Douglas Adams’s pizzaloving private eye…
How would you describe your Dirk Gently?
I feel it’s got the essence and the spirit of the Dirk in the books. I feel Max has really captured that. But obviously I think I look very different to the Dirk that Douglas Adams created, who was more middle-aged, slightly portly.
Did you review how other actors have played Dirk Gently?
I listened to both seasons of the radio adaptation with Harry Enfield and I watched all the episodes Stephen Mangan had done and I really loved both of them. In fact, I was slightly going, “These are really good.” When it was announced that I’d got the job there were loads of people on Twitter saying, “What happened to Steven Mangan? Why can’t we have more shows with him because he was great?” and I was thinking, “Yeah, in a way I totally agree with you.”
How does the show introduce Gently to a new generation?
What’s great is that you don’t need to know anything. One of the things I really love about American TV and the way it’s written is the plotting. They are able to plot one story that keeps you completely hanging on because they drip feed the information to you. In our version you’ll see Dirk go about his business, get it all wrong because he’s chaotic and you don’t learn much about him straight away apart from how he operates. Then suddenly, in episode three, you get this scene where you get a tiny bit of backstory about him and go, “What was that? Where did that come from?”
What was it like working with Elijah Wood?
They needed someone who could bring a lot of heart and a lot of empathy but also a real groundedness and normality because otherwise you would have a show in which there would be no anchor; there would be no one to guide you through where you should be at any given moment in the story. Elijah will never tell you what to think and feel and he won’t spoon-feed you anything, but he will kind of guide you in the same way that Todd ends up really guiding Dirk.