With the success of the period crime drama "Copper" under its belt, BBC America last week tackled similar genre territory with "Ripper Street."
The series takes place in one of London's most historically dangerous neighborhoods, Whitechapel in the city's East End, in 1889. With the area still reeling from the effects of the still-unsolved Jack the Ripper murders, the show follows one of the investigators still haunted by the grisly case, Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), along with his partner and street-wise muscle Sergeant Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn). Both Macfadyen and Flynn spoke with IGN to provide some background on the atmospheric new series.
Flynn sees his character as a man haunted by his past, both from a tortured upbringing and the demons of war, and his bond with Reid as what keeps him afloat. "A lot comes out about his past," Flynn explained. "He's this wounded boy from the lower class who had a broken childhood, and he's got a lot of demons he picked up from then and from fighting in Egypt in the war. So he's in battle with those parts of himself, and yet there's a real heart to the man, which gets melted by women."
He continued, "He had a Colonel from the army who he served and was extremely loyal to who comes back and tries to get him to cross over to the other side of the law. Inspector Reid has become a new father figure, so Drake has got really split loyalties. A lot of the soldiers, as they are now, come back having fought for their Kingdom and risking their lives and are not being looked after, and many end up on the street. A lot of the homeless, as today, come from the army, so that falls on him. He has to face these things that have been festering in him, and what he saw and what he went through in Egypt. As well as the fact that he's fallen in love with this prostitute and he's putting all of his eggs in that basket and setting himself up for a big fall. She kind of plays him along and uses him a bit. It's sad."
That's not to say that the main character Inspector Reid is any less damaged, as the disappearance of his daughter may have something to do with the Ripper, a mystery that will unfold over the eight episode series. "Reid has a painful journey," Macfadyen said. "He has a lot of anger and sadness that he's bottled up to do with his family, and that's sort of revealed."
While Flynn has served as Bron, the brutish arm of Tyrion Lannister on HBO's "Game of Thrones," for some time, the actor found it challenging to tackle a similar role in the new series. "I had to kind of get fit and get the boxing down, which was nice," Flynn said. "On the other side, just personally, it's quite disturbing to do some of those scenes where I'm beating up criminals, or would be criminals, and trying to get confessions out of them, which was often the way. They had pretty primal techniques, then. So that was quite challenging. To for four hours be smashing someone in the face - that's not gratifying. It's nice to do the boxing, that's like a dance, or it's a fight. But when somebody is just sitting there with his hands tied and you're whacking them, it's quite upsetting."
Don't miss a new episode of "Ripper Street" tonight on BBC America!