Adrien Brody on his Peaky Blinders character Luca: 'He's not someone you want to be at odds with'

Peaky Blinders Is Back On Our Screens

Character Background: Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody)

Recently released from prison, Luca Changretta arrives from New York fuelled with hatred and seeking vengeance for the death of his kinsman. A formidable presence, Luca and his men pose the greatest threat the Shelbys have ever encountered. But who will survive?

Who is Luca Changretta and what does he represent?

Luca Changretta’s not someone you want to be at odds with. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and he’s a fascinating character. I grew up in Queens in NY and in parts of my neighbourhood there were a lot of Italian Americans and a lot of people who were either affiliated with nefarious people or had seen so many movies that they were embodying that. There’s quite a bit of bravado that Luca possesses that I have been steeped in. I think it’s a by-product of reality and fiction and how they merge. He’s a bad guy and has a real foreboding presence. It’s those people who have a real ease with being bad who are the ones that are most frightening. That’s what I’ve tried to tap into.

What was it about the character of Luca and Peaky Blinders as a series that drew you to the role?

It’s a dream role for me in a lot of ways. I’m really grateful, Steve said he had me in mind to play this role. Interestingly, I’ve always found it odd that I haven’t had an opportunity to quite play this character in my relatively lengthy career. It leaves me wanting a bit more but it’s really fun to embrace. That’s the beauty of acting and the process that even if you’re playing a bad person, there’s an ability to have playfulness with a world that is vastly entertaining to watch but also to embody.

What challenge does Luca face when coming up against Tommy Shelby and the Peaky Blinders? Have they met their match in Luca?

Tommy Shelby and the Shelby family are vastly becoming what the Changretta family already is. My character references are that Luca is from a family who are playing on another level and in a different league to the Shelbys. It’s not just bravado. Luca’s family and the mafia are an establishment that is like no other. It’s a large corporate structure as opposed to these upstart, young businessmen who are booming but who aren’t quite there yet. Luca sees the Shelbys in this way. Tommy’s dealings have inevitably attracted attention from larger gang organisations and the actions of the Shelbys toward Luca’s family in the past have exacerbated the situation. Luca needs to enact retribution on Tommy and so now the stakes are raised. Now it’s personal and although Luca has respect for all that Tommy has built up, perhaps it will be Luca’s own ego and entitlement and sense of superiority that will be his downfall.

Was there one particular sequence your enjoyed shooting on set?

I had an opportunity to have this epic shoot-out which David Caffrey (director) choreographed containing a lot of drama. We shot these amazing sequences all through these old factory buildings and this old firehouse that must have housed every fireman’s family back in the day. Then it carried out into an alleyway. Luca and the gang are well equipped with firearms but this is unfamiliar terrain. Luca may have underestimated his opponent and the surroundings. We worked with a firearms specialist and it was very exciting. The Thompson ‘Tommy’ gun, which was the most exciting weapon of that era and a very rewarding weapon to use in a sequence like that. Those action sequences are a fun moment when you have a chance to play them.

What made you consider being a part of this show?

I love the writing on the show and the acting is superb. You’re not improvising. You may be able to improvise certain moments or let something come to life in a slightly different way but when you have material that sings and speaks to you and allows your imagination to run with it, then you have the ammunition to become something really wonderful. I think Steven Knight’s managed to do that for all the characters in this show. I’m pretty excited to see it all unfold. In that sense, it was very exciting to be considered for this role.

What do you think makes Peaky Blinders such a global hit? What did you like about the show?

First of all, the 1920s are historically fascinating. It was a time when you could get away with murder. There was so much change going on. For people who were crafty, like many of the characters in the series, there was a lot of room for growth. It’s a very different world from that in which we live today. Everything is monitored now. None of this could exist on that level. I think that fascinates people and there’s a freedom in that. It’s stylised, it’s grounded and it’s very compelling. People relate to that. 

Peaky Blinders IV returned to UK screens this week on November 15 and will continue to screen at 9pm on BBC Two 

November 16, 2017 5:45am ET by BBC TWO  

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