Interview with Anton Lesser who plays Vernon in Better



Can you tell us about your character Vernon?

Vernon is a bent ex-detective. Throughout his whole career, he was up for sale for anybody, for anything and he avoided going to prison by doing a deal. His life has been, in his own estimation, a complete waste. He's lost his career. He's lost his wife. He's lost his house. He's lost friends. And the arrival of Lou Slack (Leila Farzad), in a way, gives Vernon the opportunity to do one redeeming act and make sense of an otherwise very senseless life.

When he served as a detective, Vernon was in the same unit as Lou’s father, who was somewhat of a hero to her. However, through Lou’s interaction with Vernon, we get a different picture of this man. Vernon's perspective of him was of a vain cop whose greatest talent was to take credit for other people's hard work. Vernon had no time for this man, and so it's an ironic coincidence that his daughter now comes to Vernon for help.

How do Vernon and Lou’s paths cross in this series and how does their relationship evolve?

Vernon's relationship with Lou begins with her coming to ask him for help, ostensibly because she's trying to work out the mindset of a fellow police officer who is corrupt. It doesn't take long for Vernon to realise that she's the one looking for help, she's the one who's in trouble. Vernon starts to realise that he may be able to help Lou because of his own experience with organised crime and with corruption.

Over the series their relationship gets quite complex as they grow closer and go through many ups and downs. Vernon gets it very badly wrong at one point and completely exposes Lou to even more danger than she would have been if she'd never met him. But then it moves on again to another phase where he makes the ultimate sacrifice.

Is Vernon on the quest for redemption? Do you think he considered redemption before he met Lou?

I have a feeling that somebody like Vernon would assume that there is no possibility for redemption, that the course of their life has been such that he has just accepted things as they are, that it's not going to get better. At one point Vernon actually says, ‘I knew when I took this course of action what the consequences would be, and I took them.’ So, a bit like my favourite character in all of literature, who is Sydney Carton in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, I don't think redemption enters his mind until a moment of opportunity arises.

In Carton’s case, he can find redemption because of a curious set of circumstances, but he's never thought about it before, and I believe Vernon is the same. This woman walked into his life after a series of terrible life choices, and suddenly there's an opportunity. However, I don’t think he sees it until the very last minute when something huge happens and he responds spontaneously. It is not premeditated but this might be a way out for Vernon, and from that moment, he finds a kind of peace. It’s bonus, but it’s not something that we've been seeing as something planned at all.

Do you think Vernon’s circumstances are a warning to Lou about how she might end up?

When Lou visits Vernon for the first time, she sees the extraordinary situation he's in. The house is a terrible mess. There are bills everywhere unpaid. His reputation is shot and he's in constant danger, he keeps a gun under the garden gnome and one in the drawer in the kitchen. It's not new to her. She's been around and she's seen terrible things and done some pretty bad things.

But as the piece goes on, you get the sense of this being potentially the end of the story for her, that this could happen to her, that must impact on her more and more and drives her further and further into desperation


Episodes will air weekly on BBC One at 9pm from Monday 13th February, with all episodes also available to stream as a boxset on iPlayer.

Source BBC One

February 8, 2023 4:00am ET by BBC One  


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