Currently airing at 9pm on Thursday nights on BBC Two, the series brings to life a cinematic world of blurred morality and the conflicted characters that inhabit it.
What did you think when you first read the script for The Shadow Line?
“That it’s a genius piece of work. I had to re-read it because it is really confusing – in a good way – basically you have to take note of everything because there are so many directions, so you have to pick up on everything otherwise you will miss out on bits and pieces that are important.
“I started reading it on the plane on my way back from a job and rushed into the audition. I didn’t get through [episodes] five and six, and my audition went absolutely awfully. I stopped halfway through and I went: “Oh no, this is so awful,” and Hugo (Blick) goes: “You don’t want to do the next scene do you?” It was just because I rushed it all. So I phoned my agent and I said “Worst audition I have ever done!”"
When you read the script did you feel it was different?
“Yeah, absolutely! It completely stood out, it’s literally a genius piece of work – Hugo’s a complete genius.”
How would you describe the drama?
“Well, it starts with the murder of the drug baron Harvey Wratten and after that a story unravels. You could describe it as dark but witty at the same time, and it’s an extremely intelligent drama.”
And what about the role of Honey, what attracted you to the part?
“Well, she is very different to what I normally do. I’ve never played a detective, I’m always on the other side playing the criminal, so that was completely different for me, a complete change. And she is very action based and I have always wanted to do action. Working against Chiwetel [Ejiofor] helped, it was just a fantastic opportunity for me.”
A lot of your scenes are with Chiwetel?
“Yeah, most of my scenes are with him, he’s great, just the best actor. I mean I have worked with some fantastic actors, don’t get me wrong! But he is someone I look up to, because I find him so natural, you don’t even know he is acting. So I feel extremely privileged to work with him.”
What’s Honey’s relationship like with Gabriel?
“We are work partners – we work together, she’s very dedicated to her work, he’s very dedicated to his work. I’m a bit wittier, a bit more sarcastic, but they are both very dedicated. If something happens they both go together and just get on with it.”
You mentioned you have some action-based scenes?
“I had a big fight scene with Sean Gilder (Beatty), which was fantastic. I did my own stunts – and in the end I actually did do that back flip! And the stunt guy goes: “Kierston, honestly I have worked in some Hollywood films, with some big people like Angelina who do their own stunts and you should be proud of yourself”. And I really am!
“Never in a million years did I think I would do that. But the weird thing was the day we did it nothing went wrong, and then right at the end there was an accident. It was nothing – just Sean swinging the gun around – but it hit me on the cheek. But they have kept the blood in, so it’s real blood – and I’m proud of that!”
Were the action scenes the most enjoyable aspect of this job?
“Yeah, that was my favourite part – and doing the chase scenes with Chiwetel, running around the tube station. I asked Chiwetel if he was looking forward to the action scenes. And he was like: “Not really Kierston, no” [laughs]. I was like “I can’t wait!” But he said – well I can’t repeat how he said it! But it was a joke, that he’d rather do the talking scenes and I would rather do the action scenes!”
Do you think you approach acting in a different way to Chiwetel?
“To be honest, there is a similarity which I have never seen before. I will say I noticed that Chiwetel doesn’t do anything before he goes on set, he will just do it, and I’ve always done that and people have picked up on that before with me. Like some people psych themselves up – I mean there is nothing wrong that, I believe there is nothing wrong with how you do it, it’s whether you get the result.
“He is just amazingly natural – someone that I can subconsciously learn from. And I asked him how he did it because he is so natural and he said: “I don’t know really, I don’t know.”
What was it like working with Hugo [Blick]?
“He was lovely! Everyone on the series was just lovely, so it was a really nice atmosphere. But as far as professionalism, Hugo is just a genius, an absolute genius. All directors are very clever, of course they are, but he just is a genius, and the only other director I said that about was Ken Loach.
“When the audiences see the script and realise that he has written it, and directed it… I mean for it to come out of someone’s head like that is just amazing. When you watch it you can’t just pop out to make a cup of tea because you’ll miss something that is important down the line!”