Matthew McNulty talks about Black Work

Matthew McNulty talks about starring on new drama series Black Work. The show can be seen on Sunday evenings on ITV from June 21st at 9PM.

What appealed to you about Black Work?

The writer was the main pull for me. I had heard of Matt Charman from his play The Machine, which was at the Manchester International Festival. I knew there was a buzz about him. And then obviously you search online and it showed his next project was with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. So I knew that whatever I was about to read in the scripts it was going to be engaging and unique. And I have to say Black Work didn’t disappoint. The script was complex and multi-faceted. The story had real drive and it was pushed forward with great, strong female leads. Which, in itself, is pretty unusual, unfortunately. But it was like nothing I’d ever read before. Then after having read the script I met with Matt and found him to be incredibly intelligent, sharp and charming and he won me over. I felt like we had the whole package with this script and writer. I have the biggest respect for writers within this industry. I think they are the real creators of the magic we see on TV. Everybody else just fuels the machine they create.

Did you feel the need to do any personal research?

I do have friends and family in the police force and I could have got some background from them. But I’ve always found the truth generally tends to get in the way of a good story. From knowing people in the force I know it’s an incredibly committed profession and very often it needs to be in order for them to succeed, carry on, survive even. This idea of the police family is very much prevalent in the people I know within the police. So I could take that into Jack and into the story. But otherwise I’m reluctant to do research like that. I have full faith in the script.

Chief Constable Carolyn Jarecki (Geraldine James) talks about the police holding a line between the world we all want and the world as it is. Do you think the world has got more dangerous in recent years? Or just our perception of the danger?

It certainly seems like a more dangerous place these days. But that’s probably down to the fact there’s constant news reporting and Twitter and all kinds of stuff on the internet that gets pushed in your face. There’s no running away from the dangers of the world today. Twenty years ago you could be ignorant about it. But now you can’t be. Who knows if it is more dangerous? Not me. I certainly know the perception of danger has changed because of the constant access to the evils of the world.

Maybe that’s de-sensitising us a little more? It’s a hard one to judge. It’s only really the people on the front line, the police, ambulance, fire brigade, the Army who could give a balanced opinion on that.

How was filming the scene where Jack explodes and lunges at DS Lee Miekel (Andrew Knott)?

It was quite a heavy scene. It comes at the height of Jo Gillespie’s (Sheridan Smith) paranoia and the height of tensions between Miekel and Jack and Jo. Those kind of scenes, when there’s such a lot at stake, they tend to be the most susceptible to corpsing. And that’s what happened. Andy Knott, who plays Miekel, had to enter from a forensics tent at a certain point and they kept getting the cues wrong. Because of that and the importance of the scene and how charged it was, it just made it hilarious.

Add to that the fact that at some point Sheridan was batting away flies but without realising it. Then we became aware of it, it was funny again. So it took some real force of will to get through it, to be honest.

How was filming in Leeds?

I’ve worked in Leeds quite a few times now. On Room At The Top and The Syndicate. But on this job I saw a different side to the city. Every location we went to certainly enhanced the story. We saw the best and worst of the area. But I love Leeds. It’s a great place to film and the people are amazingly accommodating. We were filming in the middle of the main shopping centre there, doing a long Steadicam shot down escalators and throughout the whole of the centre. And we didn’t get any grief at all. People just carried on about their business. Which is unusual in a city centre. So it’s definitely a good place to work in. People were always coming up to us, to Sheridan particularly, with encouraging words. They were happy for us to be there and we felt comfortable filming there. It’s a great place. I do love it. And it certainly served us well.

Jack supports his swimmer son Liam. Do you swim or take part in any other sport? Are you competitive?

I’m a terrible swimmer. I can swim but not very well. I do a lot of sports. I like football and I watch any sport. I guess I am quite competitive. I suppose you’ve got to be in this industry. I don’t think there are many non-competitive actors out there. And if they’re not competitive, I kind of question how they’ve got to where they are. How they attain success, really, because you’ve got to be driven in this industry. I guess that’s what I’m competitive with. That’s the nature of our job. Every audition you’re competing and every job you’re competing with whatever you’re scheduled against. My competitive edge is certainly fulfilled in this industry, doing this job. Be it at an audition or viewing figures or how successful a show has been received. So, yes, I am competitive and it manifests itself in my work. But, hopefully, not too much.

Sheridan Smith leads a talented cast in Black Work?

There are some great actors in Black Work. It’s been a real pleasure to work with them. I think that’s testament to the script. People like Sheridan Smith, Geraldine James and Douglas Henshall and Phil Davis are consistently successful and consistently work in fantastic dramas. The reason for that is down to hard work and commitment.

If you work hard, then the great stories come to you. And if the great stories come to you, then you work hard. It’s a positive cycle. If you find yourself falling out of this then there’s always a reason for it. It’s generally because you’re not working as hard or you’re not as committed. But these guys are grafters and they deserve all the success they’ve got.

There are many secrets in this story. Off screen, do you find it easy to keep secrets?

I’m great at keeping secrets because I’m not a great talker. So I don’t think there’s any danger of me letting any cats out of the bag because the bag never opens. The secrets of Black Work are safe with me. So wait...and watch it.

Courtesy of itv

- itv
- Matthew McNulty
- Black Work

Written by: Ben Drummond
Jun 11th, 2015, 2:54 am

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