Interview with John Simm about new political thriller Collateral
Monday 12th February at 9pm on BBC Two
How did you get involved with Collateral?
She’s an incredibly talented and exciting director and I firmly believed that SJ and David Hare working together on a political thriller would be a match made in heaven. A few months later she called me while I was about to start filming Doctor Who in Cardiff and said that not only had she taken the job, but that she and David would like to offer me the role of the MP, David Mars. I agreed immediately of course, without even reading the script.
When I did eventually read it I was thrilled. It's a wonderful script, it’s certainly the best I’ve read of its kind since Paul Abbott’s State Of Play. And it’s the first opportunity I’ve had to play an MP, which brought a new challenge. I was the journalist in State Of Play, so if any more political thrillers come my way after this it’ll have to be the cop!
So who is David Mars, and how does he fit into the plot?
I think he’s a man of principle and loyalty, while at the same time being a little shambolic. His private life is complicated of course - he risks his job by helping out his old friend Jane (Nicola Walker), a local vicar whose lover (who just so happens to be in the country illegally) was the sole witness to the murder. On top of this, David’s ex-wife Karen, with whom he has a daughter, is the last person to see the victim alive. The murder also happens in David’s constituency, so he inevitably gets dragged into the drama.
The relationship between David and Karen was an interesting one to explore; they’re very ill-matched (hence the divorce) and it was an extremely short marriage, but they are forced to interact because of the shared responsibility of their daughter. David’s written some pretty fiery scenes for them which were great fun to shoot.
What drew you to the drama?
I think bringing political commentary to the small screen is very important and we have a great history of wonderful dramatists in this country, writers and directors who have produced and continue to produce, biting and essential political drama (and satire) for the small screen. This ranges from Alan Bleasdale, Ken Loach and Alan Clarke, to Abi Morgan, Paul Abbott, Tony Marchant, Armando Iannucci and Jimmy McGovern... the list goes on.
It’s an important part of who we are as a nation to be able to comment on the political situation, and in the current climate we need it now more than ever, so the fact that one of our greatest writers has chosen to write a state of the nation political thriller for 2018 can only be a good thing.
How was it working with the rest of the cast?
Amazingly, I hadn’t worked with either Billie, Nicola or Carey before, and have always been a great admirer of all their work. They’re all exceptional talents so it was a real thrill for me, a dream job really. I even got the chance to work with my daughter Molly. She plays David and Karen’s daughter Elfie in a few scenes, so that was a wonderful experience.
February 2, 2018 8:57am ET by BBC TWO