House of the set­ting sun

Detroit the set­ting for grim new crime drama, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION -

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

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