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James Nesbitt talks about starring on the new drama series Stan Lee's Lucky Man

James Nesbitt talks about starring on the new drama series Stan Lee's Lucky Man which begins on Friday, January 22nd at 9pm on Sky 1.

What sort of character is Harry Clayton?

He has been a detective inspector for a long time. He has a good heart and believes in doing right but has developed a serious gambling addiction, which has resulted in the loss of his home and his marriage. These issues stem from a devastating event in his childhood. Ever since, he has felt a bit guilty about his position in life and his reaction has always been to push things to the limit. Despite the fact he has a strong moral background, his methodology and his weaknesses sometimes get in the way.

What is Harry’s character trajectory as we follow him through the series?

The arc of his story is huge, a lot happens to him in the first five minutes, let alone ten hours! When we first meet him, he’s in a casino losing money and his debt is called in. He later meets the mysterious Eve [Sienna Guillory] and after Harry wins big at the roulette table, they spend the night together. The next day he wakes up with an ancient bracelet attached to his wrist, which he can’t get off. Each episode has a different story but there is a serial arc weaved through every instalment. We learn that the crimes Harry and his team are getting further and further involved in may all be linked. He starts to believe the mysterious bracelet may be able to help with his investigations but that there is a price to be paid, a yin and yang effect. That is where the Stan Lee aspect of the show comes in. It’s essentially about a flawed, modern-day hero who gets more and more entangled in this complex story.

How would you describe Harry’s relationship with his colleagues?

Suri is a detective sergeant and Harry’s number two in the Murder Investigation Squad. They have a very strong relationship as Harry has been her mentor. As Harry pushes things to the limit and begins to walk a thin line between what is legitimate and what is questionable, almost illegal, their relationship becomes fractured. I think that’s one of the most interesting things about the show, seeing how the glue between them is weakening and how their relationship reaches quite a bad state later on in the series. Harry seems to butt heads with Detective Superintendent Winter quite early on. Winter is Harry’s boss and they have history. It’s hard to gauge what he is like at the beginning  but you get that he doesn’t trust Harry because of something that happened in the past. There’s also a sense he is out to nail Harry and he believes Harry is on the wrong side of the law. Seeing two policemen with similar causes and objectives, coming from very different places and the friction that causes is so interesting.

What do you think of Harry’s policing methods?

Within this genre, it’s not a huge surprise that Harry is a maverick but brings a human element to it. Everything he does has an element of risk to it, but where his story differs most from those of other cops is the gambling aspect, and of course when the story develops and we see the bracelet begin to make more sense to him. 

How would you describe Harry’s relationship with Eve?

Eve is the only one who can move this bracelet from person to person. She sees something in Harry. There is an attraction there but it’s much deeper than that. As the relationship develops, Harry begins to question why she’s bestowed the bracelet on him, what it means. They are inextricably linked but it becomes a relationship Harry begins to question a lot. 

How does Harry’s ex-wife fit into the story?

Harry and Anna [Eve Best] were the sort of couple people aspire to. However, Harry’s  compulsive behaviour, his inability to sort out his gambling has pushed Anna to the edge. She has given him one last chance after another but when he loses the house she has no option but to kick him out. Despite this, you can’t help but feel throughout the show the very strong love and connection between them. 

What were your first reactions on reading the scripts and joining the show?

There are so many things that make this story amazing, it just seemed so different to me. It’s a Stan Lee creation. There’s a great hero, and a massive thriller element to the show. The episodic stories alone are great but the way the serial arc is woven throughout the  episodes adds an exciting twist of old-school- style storytelling but in a modern context. The show also has a very strong ensemble cast  with wonderful directors, some I’d worked with before and some I had wanted to work with. It  just appealed hugely and I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be in this show.

Were there any of the London locations that were a particular highlight?

The locations have been incredible. We filmed on the top floor of the Tate Modern with extraordinary views of St Paul’s and the river. London will be shown in a very modern context, in quite a slick and sexy way. What is so interesting about the city is that it still has the ancient buildings right next to the modern, and that’s most obvious in the shots of St Paul’s, which makes a very striking image. The pace of the show is integral and London really helps with that. There are a host of stunts throughout the  show.

Did you have a particular favourite?

Driving a speedboat at 4am through the Thames barrier was incredible, we were absolutely flying. At one point, Harry ends up going into the water, and we filmed the scene in an underwater tank/studio. It’s amazing – there  are speakers in the water, so the director can watch you and can speak to you. And if you’re having issues with chlorine and your eyes, and mine are incredibly sensitive and you have to  have chlorine for health and safety reasons,  the way to deal with it is to drop full-fat milk on your eyes. There you go: a secret from the set! 

What would you like the audience to take away with them after watching Stan Lee’s Lucky Man?

I hope the audience gets involved in all the stories and feel the jeopardy the characters are in and feel  the pain they go through. I hope they understand and discuss the notion of luck and  the difficulty that it can bring  and, of course, that they have and exhilarating time watching it. 

- Stan Lee's Lucky Man
- James Nesbitt
- sky 1

Written by: Ben Drummond
Jan 6th, 2016, 9:47 pm

Images courtesy of sky 1

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