Fear­less’s He­len Mccrory

He­len Mccrory tells TV Times about play­ing a lawyer whose in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the con­vic­tion of a child mur­derer un­cov­ers a global con­spir­acy...

TV Times - - News - Caren Clark

What hap­pens when you cross a le­gal drama with a who­dunit that has a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy at its heart? We’ll find out this week in ITV’S grip­ping multi-lay­ered le­gal drama Fear­less, star­ring He­len Mccrory as pas­sion­ate hu­man rights lawyer Emma Banville.

In this in­tense six-part se­ries, Emma investigates whether a mis­car­riage of jus­tice has taken place in the case of school care­taker Kevin Rus­sell (played by Sam Swains­bury). Rus­sell has been in prison for 14 years af­ter be­ing con­victed of the mur­der of school­girl Linda Simms.

How­ever, it’s not long be­fore Emma’s en­quiries draw her into the cen­tre of a po­lit­i­cal con­spir­acy that has global reper­cus­sions.

On lo­ca­tion in London, TV Times sat down with Peaky Blin­ders star He­len, 48, to find out more…

Tell us about Fear­less…

I haven’t read a Bri­tish se­ries for so long that’s such a page turner with so many twists and turns. It’s a le­gal thriller, but it’s not a court­room drama – it turns into some­thing in­ter­na­tional that looks at what’s hap­pen­ing in the world to­day and touches on big po­lit­i­cal ideas.

Why is Emma so in­ter­ested in Kevin’s case?

Kevin’s ex-part­ner An­nie [Re­becca Cal­lard] be­lieves he’s in­no­cent and ap­proaches Emma to help. Emma has a pas­sion for jus­tice and she smells a rat with the foren­sics on the orig­i­nal case. As it un­rav­els, it takes her into a ter­ri­fy­ing world

that she has never been into. Emma keeps fight­ing, al­though she’s in un­fa­mil­iar water, be­cause she cares. She’s fear­less be­cause she wants to know the truth.

Emma’s work is com­pli­cated by the fact that she has opened up her home to a Syr­ian mother whose hus­band is a ter­ror sus­pect. The char­ac­ter’s own past also has an im­pact...

Yes, Emma’s un­der sur­veil­lance her­self, but there’s also a lie that she was told in her past that has dam­aged her ir­re­vo­ca­bly. She’s vul­ner­a­ble and is chased by her own demons. By the end you’ll re­alise why she’s re­ally mo­ti­vated to take this case and to de­fend peo­ple be­cause of the in­jus­tice that was done to her in the past.

What’s her per­sonal life like?

She has put it on pause for work and been a sur­ro­gate mother to her clients but now she wants to adopt a child with her pho­tog­ra­pher part­ner Steve [John Bishop]. I was re­ally in­ter­ested in this woman who has sac­ri­ficed so much for her job and now re­alises she can’t have her cake and eat it, be­cause that has hap­pened to a few of my friends.

What was it like work­ing with ac­tor and co­me­dian John Bishop? Oh, he’s com­pletely charis­matic. I didn’t know he did straight drama but when we came to the readthrough, what he brought to the ta­ble was so per­fect that they wrote sev­eral ex­tra scenes for him. He’s just bril­liant and a real laugh.

What was it like re­unit­ing with Michael Gam­bon, who plays aca­demic

Sir Alas­tair Mckinnon?

I’ve known him for years; he’s just the best, so we were thrilled he came on this. I did my first-ever TV job with Michael. He played Archie

Rice in a BBC2 ver­sion of The En­ter­tainer, with Bill Owen and Bil­lie Whitelaw, and I played his daugh­ter Jean. Then we worked to­gether on [2001 film] Char­lotte Gray and the Harry Pot­ters, when we just spent our time in Rob­bie Coltrane’s trailer chat­ting. Michael’s a phe­nom­e­non, but cheeky! He’s got a filthy sense of hu­mour, but

I’ll save his glit­ter­ing ca­reer by not re­peat­ing what he tells me on set!

How did you re­search Emma?

I read a lot of very dense books! I’m friends with a few lawyers any­way, and I’m al­ways in­ter­ested in their work, so I spoke to them. Then I was on the Tube and I heard this man chat­ting and re­alised that he was a hu­man rights lawyer. I jumped off and said, ‘Can I talk to you?’ I went to Lincoln’s Inn Fields [the London square that’s a le­gal hub] a few times to meet him.

Do you see any­thing of your­self in Emma?

Yes! Like her, I’m to­tally ob­sessed with my work. It’s when she feels most alive and that’s com­mon for per­form­ers, too; they feel most present when they are in the mid­dle of a per­for­mance. Act­ing is sim­i­lar to the law in that way.

You and your hus­band [Home­land star Damian Lewis] are based in New York now, with your chil­dren [Manon, 10 and Gul­liver, nine]. Was it tough to be away from them while film­ing Fear­less?

The chil­dren are at school in New York and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do Fear­less if I couldn’t see them. But the pro­duc­tion team made it work for me so I could fly back and see them ev­ery 10 days, which was amaz­ing. I re­mem­ber do­ing Manon’s Hal­loween make-up at 6.00am while telling my driver I’d be out in two min­utes to get my plane. It was fine be­cause New York is only a six-hour flight to London and the only time you get six hours to your­self is on a plane!

uni­ver­sity prof sir alas­tair Mckinnon emma and for­mer cop Dominic tru­elove meet with the simms fam­ily court in the act: Kevin rus­sell with ex-part­ner an­nie Peterson and so­lic­i­tor emma banville

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