Sam isn’t like other 15-year-olds – he’s trying to balance falling in love and his urge to murder in thriller miniseries Born To Kill.
Born To Kill Season 1 Wednesdays (from 2 August) BBC First (*119) 20:00
“From the outside, Sam is a normal kid – he goes to school, he’s a good swimmer and the girls like him. But there is a lot going on in his mind,” teases 20-year-old Jack Rowan, the lead star of four-episode drama show Born To Kill (2017). “A lot” includes falling for the town’s newcomer Chrissy (Lara Peake) while hiding his killing crimes. “This character Sam does nasty, horrible things. He lies. He manipulates. He is all fakeness, all day,” teases Jack.
Sam is the kid next door you’d never expect to be a murderer. “And that is what makes him good at it,” says the actor. “I watched hours of videotapes of real and fictional killers and some of the documentaries blew me away.” Sam isn’t your regular killer either, like Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) in Bates Motel (2013-2017) – they’re about the same age, are as pitiful as they are psychotic and have similar triggers. “At some points, you feel sorry for him in spite of the things he does,” says Jack. And it has a lot to do with his home…
Sam never knew his dad. His nurse mom Jenny (Romola Garai) told him that his father died as a hero soldier – he’s really in prison and about to be paroled, but “his mum’s been the only person there for him,” says Jack. “There are moments where their bond is normal, but as the story goes on, it turns toxic.” Without knowing it, it’s Jenny who gives Sam the perfect training ground: a hospital where people die daily and no one suspect’s a killer’s “helping” hand.
Sam’s killer calmness is unsettling but isn’t surprising. The show was created by Tracey Malone, who wrote thriller Rillington Place (2016) about real-life killer Reg Christie (played by Tim Roth). And Jack loved his role too – “This is what people want. It’d be pretty boring if everything was a romantic comedy. I love shows that are different and treats the subject matter seriously.”
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Chrissy (inset) comes between Sam and his mom Jenny. THE BIG TIME Jack has only been acting for three years and Born To Kill is his first lead role – his only other “big” role was playing Brinni in 12-episode drama Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands in 2016.