Interview with Darren Boyd who plays John in The Outlaws which returns May 30 (UK) & May 31 (US)

Available to view on Prime Video in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Nordics

PHOTO: Greg (Stephen Merchant), John (Darren Boyd), Myrna (Clare Perkins), and Ben (Gamba Cole). (Image: BBC/Big Talk/Alistair Heap)



May 20 - Interview with Darren Boyd who plays John in The Outlaws which returns for season three on May 30 (UK) & May 31 (US)

Can you introduce The Outlaws and what the series is about?

The Outlaws from the outset is probably best described as an ensemble piece, that’s the story of a very separate cross section of society that come together for community service.

When we first meet them they’re almost stereotypical in our perception of them. Very quickly we discover not only that every character and every person we meet has their own very specific backstory that’s led them to be how they are when we first meet them, but also how their commonalities soon overcome their difference, or overtake their difference. They find themselves certainly at this stage and later on in the series, much more a familial group and much more dependent on one another in ways that that could never have imagined.

Can you recap series one and two?

In series one it’s very much their differences, they’re a group who have nothing in common, they come from all different walks of life, all different backgrounds, and we are presented with this cross-section of society brought together through community service. Through the series, and a series of problems they face, that forces them to work together and really start to lean into each other and depend on each other, we see how their commonalities really replace these differences. So by the time series two finishes they’ve almost become a family, with a shared problem that they can’t resolve without each other. It’s a really nice comment on that it’s not our differences but our similarities that define us.

Can you describe your character, John?

I play John Halloran, or John Junior as he’s often referred to. Son of an Irish Catholic. For me, I think John is essentially someone who walked through life picking fights with people simply because he’s never fully resolved the big fight or conflict within himself. By that I think he’s a middle-aged man that just wants a hug from his dad. I feel that’s a very identifiable, relatable character flaw, wound, situation. To live your life seeking approval from the person or people that mean the most to you and being denied that. In fact, being actively put down by most people in your life created a certain type of front-footed aggression and defensiveness.

When we first meet John, he is a stereotypical bully and antagonist. But I think as each character's stories are opened up and we see why they are who they are, we’ll understand why, and as the series progresses, they do depend on each other more, they become more like family than strangers. We see more balanced individuals, but they'll always be intrinsically who they are. It’s just nice to see characters bringing out the best in each other, as well as all the shared conflict and problems they face.

What is the toughest challenges your character faces this season?

The toughest thing John faces this season is probably staying true to his new found efforts with regard to inner peace. He’s made some small steps to fix that thing that needs fixing, and whether he succeeds or fails we’ll see. His biggest challenge is staying on the rails and walking the path he’s currently trying to walk.

Is improvisation quite common on set?

Stephen is not only very good at improvisation, he advocates it at times when it’s appropriate. The scripts walk such a brilliant line between leaning into the comedy and then leaning into the jeopardy and genuinely high stakes. If it were too much one rather than the other, it would lessen the audience investment and the danger that these characters do genuinely face at any given moment. We always want the audience to be invested in that and have a level of care over the characters and the story. If it becomes too comedic for comedic sake, we lose that. I think the scripts and the storylines are brilliantly woven and they’ve knit those things together.

What we’ll often do when we shoot scenes is shoot it as written and if everyone’s happy we might do something to loosen things up. If someone has thought of something, it’s always very welcome to be throw in. It’s an extension of the joy of working in such an ensemble manner. It extends beyond script and beyond scenes and we all collectively share thoughts and ideas and have these great moments of collaboration.

Do you film on a farm this series?

Yes. We’re surrounded by goats and pigs, and I myself made friends with a little family of goats and I didn’t want to leave! I feel like we’ve created something quite special, I make it my mission every morning to go and say hi. I didn’t know goats were as affectionate as they seem to be and I love them.

What has it been like reuniting with your castmates for a third series?

To get the chance to come back and revisit this world, and of course the actors, my Outlaws family, has just been a treat. I think it’s evermore sweet when it's not expected or guaranteed. I think you appreciate it more. Actors wouldn’t always talk about how much they love everybody and how we’re all a family and everyone gets on, but it’s there with us. I respect everyone as people but also as actors. There is some extraordinary work going on, being in the middle of it, and being able to sit back and watch it, is a privilege.

Where do we find John and his family in series three?

At the very start of The Outlaws, John is very much living in a place of anger and injustice, and his reasons for being in the tabard and brought into community service being a particularly aggressive, quite violent crime that he’s committed. Although he wouldn’t see it as a crime, and that place of anger has made him very front-footed and quite an antagonist. I think he comes across in the beginning as quite a bully. In terms of his family, he has fallen into the trap of taking things for granted and he’s not paying the right amount of attention where it’s deserved. I think he’s caught up in his own inner turmoil.

As he softens throughout the series, and as he learns and grows and adapts and begins to depend on his new family, that naturally parleys into his questionable relationship with his wife. By questionable, I mean they’re not on very solid ground. He does try and make amends, he does try to take steps towards repair, but ultimately we’ll have to wait and see whether he succeeds or not.

Could you talk about Myrna and John's unlikely friendship?

I love Myrna and John's friendship, or Myrns as John has nicknamed her. While they’re all in an ensemble, it’s this natural pairing off within that group. You have the wonderful Greg and Gabby friendship, which is a beautiful thing. You have Rani and Ben’s relationship, which is something altogether deeper. Then you have John and Myrna, who pair off, and are, among other things, the odd couple. When we first meet the characters in series one, John is the middle-aged white man, Tory advocate, angry, and Myrna is the activist, but also dealing with her own anger. To put these two people together at the beginning was a really interesting conversation to have.

As we move on through the series, those barriers come down and the characters remain less locked in their own created shell. As they see each other and see beyond the surface, we realise there are commonalities where we didn’t expect them. Those commonalities become friendships and we become allies. Not only do John and Mryna get to do some great fun stuff in terms of tasks that are asked of them, but they also start to love each other a little bit and really respect and lean into each other a bit. Where the angry exchanges were once commonplace, now it feels like banter, like there’s something a little warmer behind it. That's really lovely to see and feel that,

What themes are present in series three?

The themes in series three are a really natural and fun progression from what we saw in the first two series. The overall theme is the conversation about how our collective similarities will always win out over our differences. By leaning into that and being less obsessed about what separates us, because that’s a very lonely world view, to constantly be butting up against that. It’s a lonely, draining, exhausting existence, I feel like we see that more and more. The conversation about listening more, and screaming less, is a really valid one in society today, and with the constant social media stances and the aggression that’s behind opinion. Rather than it being an opinion that’s up for discussion, it's an opinion that must be defended at all costs. I don’t really know how we got there or why, and I don’t see it resolving anytime soon.

So, to have those conversations and to do so through work like this, which is on the surface a really fun caper. It’s a romp, it’s fun, it’s got lots of things going on, but there is that deeper theme. Personally, I’ve loved that ongoing conversation since the beginning.


PRIME VIDEO INFORMATION: The Outlaws are back for Season 3 of star/creator Stephen Merchant's comedic thriller will premiere with all five episodes on Friday, May 31 on Prime Video. Available to view on Prime Video in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Nordics.

Source BBC One

May 30, 2024 3:00am ET by BBC One  


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