Harry Guerin chats to Ripper Street stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg.
With the third season of the Dublin-shot, back-from-the-dead Victorian crime drama Ripper Street premiering on Amazon Prime Instant Video this Friday, November 14, at 9:00pm, Harry Guerin talked to stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg during its summer shoot to find out what's in store.
Following Ripper Street's cancellation by the BBC at the end of series two, an online campaign by fans and winning Best TV Show of 2013 in the RadioTimes.com readers' poll helped save the show and bring about a new deal with Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Under the deal, the third season episodes will premiere as Amazon Prime Instant Video exclusives every Friday night, beginning November 14 at 9:00pm, before being screened on BBC One a few months later.
Harry Guerin: How did you feel about the cancellation and subsequent fan campaign to bring the show back?
Jerome Flynn (plays Detective Inspector - formerly Detective Sergeant - Bennet Drake): I think we were all a bit shocked; we thought it was a bit of an early bath, really. Personally, I couldn't quite believe they were going to see that through and not bring it back. I didn't feel like it [the show] had been completed, so it was really nice when we got picked up.
Matthew Macfadyen (plays Detective Inspector Edmund Reid): It [fan reaction] was lovely. It was flattering, and gratifying. I think you know when a show is running out of steam and that's fine, because they do. But I didn't feel like it was. I think as actors you're used to... You don't know what's going on and you're sort of buffeted around job to job. But I think, certainly for the writers, the creators and the producers, it [the cancellation] was sort of a bigger deal in a way. There's so much work and thought [put into it]- years and years and years - and then suddenly it's off.
Adam Rothenberg (plays Homer Jackson): They cancelled it and then there were whispers [it could come back]. I was in a tough spot because I was in LA and I had to look for work, but I started to sort of mess up my auditions! I was like, 'I can't in good conscience tell my agent I'm not going out for anything, but I can suck...' That I'm good at!
Were you offered any parts?
Adam Rothenberg: No, I did it like a pro!
It must be a big motivation for you all that the show has come back from the dead.
Matthew Macfadyen: You want it to be as good as it can be, always. We did a couple of weeks in Manchester before we arrived in Dublin. But coming to Clancy [Barracks] was lovely because we've done two years [series] and it was a lovely feeling because the crew was back together.
The new series takes place four years after the end of season two, so what can you tell us about your characters?
Adam Rothenberg: We're still alive! Jackson, he's estranged from Susan (MyAnna Buring). I think he's reinvested in his own mystique to a degree. Rather than pick up the pieces and see who he is, I think he's trying to be more Jackson, if that's even bearable! I think there were a lot of holes punched in him last season and he's filled them with things you shouldn't fill them with! But that's kind of who he is. He's rudderless. And drunk! He has a lady friend, which I can't speak about. I feel like I'll start waffling on because the actress who plays her is so wonderful that I'm afraid I'll blow some serious plot points by talking about it!
Matthew Macfadyen: Reid's been making an archive. He's become very insular and a bit odd. He's made this enormous archive in Leman Street [police station], cataloguing every villain and ne'er-do-well, snitch and everything – sort of like a first computer database. His eyesight's getting worse and he's very lonely.
Jerome Flynn: When we left at the end of season two he [Drake] was down. He'd been through the mill and he needed some space from Mr Reid because it was too dark where he was going. So he [Drake] went off to Manchester and kind of started anew in the force. He started off as a constable and spent four years [in that position] and he ends up as an inspector. He's doing well; he's healing from losing his wife. And then he gets asked by [Chief Inspector] Abberline to come back [to London] and kind of almost take over. On his way back there's this big train crash, which brings us all back together.
Judging by one of the great clips we saw from season three, it seems Drake has become far more confident.
Jerome Flynn: He's just found his niche, and he wanted to. It's nice to join in a bit more, because I used to just kind of hang around listening to those two work out the crimes, which is kind of frustrating as an actor, even though it worked I'm sure dramatically. It's nice to be getting involved in the sleuthing. I'm enjoying the more intellectual exercises!
Why do you think people are so passionate about the show?
Jerome Flynn: Probably the same thing that drew us to doing it in the first place. There's a richness in it, a richness of character and that London life and it's slightly larger than life and it's emotive.
Adam Rothenberg: It's that old adage of not realising what you had until it's gone. It was cancelled and I was sitting watching him [Matthew Macfadyen] doing this beautiful monologue [in an episode] and I was like, 'This is like nothing else that's ever been put on'. The adventure, the heart, the existential struggle the characters are going through and the beauty of the language - it's such a pure show. It's just life; unfiltered and pure. So I watched it and then I was convinced, because it was so good, that it was over!
Well, it's not. Do you think the Amazon Prime Instant Video deal will give the show a bigger audience in the US?
Adam Rothenberg: Something better! I really don't know: I only hear about Ripper Street [when] people call me to say they like it. Where I live, no-one thinks I've been working for the last three years! It's like the old cliché, 'I have a really beautiful girlfriend but she lives in Canada, you people won't know her'!
So what else do we need to know about season three?
Adam Rothenberg: You'll enjoy it more the less you know!