House of the setting sun
Detroit the setting for grim new crime drama, writes
IT may seem strange that both of the two leading actors in gritty new US urban crime series Low Winter Sun are British but Lennie James, who plays detective Joe Geddes, says it didn’t affect them on set.
‘‘It’s not an issue for the guys writing it, producing it, or for the other cast members in it,’’ says James.
Alongside James, who has appeared US TV series including Line of Duty, Hung and The Walking Dead, is Mark Strong, whose recent films include John Carter and Zero Dark Thirty.
Strong reprises his role as detective Frank Agnew from the 2006 UK miniseries of the same name, which served as a springboard for the new show.
James says a shared background in the theatre means both he and Strong have no problem playing US police officers.
‘‘You’re either on stage or you’re off stage and when we’re on stage we speak like our characters and when we’re off stage, we don’t,’’ he says.
Those who have seen the British version of the story will be on familiar ground during the first episode of Low Winter Sun, which airs in Australia on the pay-TV channel FX.
The series opens with the murder of another police officer, but James says the story is soon very different.
‘‘The whole Greektown gangster story that’s affected by the
Low Winter Sun. death of the cop . . . that’s all new,’’ he says.
The Greektown he refers to is in central Detroit, a city James describes as ‘‘bad, depressing and uplifting’’ all at once.
‘‘The abandonment and the decay of its city, its core, is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen,’’ he says.
That decay makes for startling backdrop that is sure to provoke interest, given the city recently filed for bankruptcy.
The dismal urban backdrop and the storyline involving corrupt police and criminals is sure to raise comparisons to cult TV series The Wire. James is reluctant to draw that line. ‘‘If by the end of our run, however long that might be, if we stand up and can be compared to The Wire then I would be staggeringly proud of that,’’ he says. ‘‘But we’re not there yet.’’ Low Winter Sun follows in a tradition of TV shows about antiheroes – think The Wire, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.
‘‘It’s an old adage among actors I think that the baddies seem to be the most interesting characters,’’ James says.
‘‘I think everybody’s got bored with the hero . . . it’s much more interesting to mess with the dynamic.’’
Low Winter Sun: Tuesdays, 8.30pm, FX.
Mark Strong and Athena Karkanis filming on the set of