Stephen Rea has said it is "nice to be relieved of the responsibility of pretending to be an American" in his role as the Irish sheriff in the BBC's new Western series, The English.

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Premiering on BBC Two on Thursday 10 November, the "epic chase Western" sees The Crying Game star Rea cast opposite Emily Blunt, Chaske Spencer, Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Valerie Pachner.

Written and directed by The Honourable Woman creator Hugo Blick, the series sees "Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and a Pawnee ex-cavalry scout, Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer), come together in 1890 mid- America to cross a violent landscape built on dreams and blood".

Along the way, they encounter Rea's character, Sheriff Robert Marshall.

"An Irish sheriff is an authentic figure and I like that very much," Rea told the BBC.

"My character has all the roughness and readiness of an Irish countryman, which is accurate because a lot of people from Northern Ireland went to the West and created a lot of the culture of that place."

Rea said he was "blown away" by Blick's script for the series.

Chaske Spencer as Eli Whipp and Emily Blunt as Lady Cornelia Locke in The English

"I wrote back to Hugo to say it was the most incredible thing I had ever read. The whole question of the treatment of indigenous people is coming up all over the world, with respect to the loss of language, culture, land."

"I find it incredibly moving to be in a piece where all the Native Americans are played by Native Americans. Chaske is the real deal and it's incredibly powerful," Rea continued.

"It gives me so much hope that they can recover more land as well as the acknowledgement of what 'the English'/white folk have done to those people. It isn't simply an adventure story - it's a savage, tragic tale of love."

The English begins on BBC Two on Thursday 10 November at 9:00pm.

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