I watched a talk on The Night Manager at the BFI IMAX yesterday as part of the Radio Times Festival. On the panel were actors Tom Hiddleston and Alastair Pedrie, director Susanne Bier and producer Simon Cornwall (who I’ve just discovered is John Le Carré’s son – what do ya know!). It was a great talk and i’m glad I went (despite having to sit in a dark room on one of the hottest days of the year so far).
So many interesting points were covered and here are some highlights:
- They didn’t shoot continuously. They shot episodes 1, 3 and 6 before filming episodes 2 and 5. From an acting perspective, this meant Tom and Hugh Laurie filmed the ending scenes before doing scenes where their characters even meet
- Many of the glitzy interior shots were filmed in Kent (the interior of the Swiss hotel? All in Kent – fancy). But they did do some amazing travelling – from Morocco to Majorca. (And back to Kent)
- It cost over £10 million to make. This was probably several times over (as producer Simon Cornwall said) making it the most expensive BBC production ever…
My main focus is acting of course. And here’s a few things Tom said that I thought were good food for thought:
- The way they shot kept things surprising and interesting. Sometimes directors like to shoot in chronological order so that it’s easier for the actors, but this shake up kept things fresh.
- Tom talked about Hugh Laurie’s character and the hideousness of what arms dealing actually means. Even though this guy’s morals are clearly warped, it was important for Hugh to find the humanity within the character (as each actor should). He is utterly charming on the outside; he has friends, he looks after (or seems to) his family and he has a young son. At the end of the day – whatever your job, we are still people. We eat food and we go to the toilet.
- Tom also discussed the similarities and differences between Laurie’s role as Richard Roper and his own character, Jonathan Pine. Do they use each other as a frame of reference? They are both charming, they both know how to handle social situations, they can both take control. But the main difference is their outlook on the world; on what is right and what is wrong. Which is a pretty huge discrepancy…….
- He also talked about the malleability of his character. Pine has a desire to hide away from the world – this is what brings him to be a night manager in the first place. But he is also a chameleon – he can quickly change his shape and manner to adapt to certain situations – and this is the reason why he gets the call up from Olivia Colman’s character for this take-down-roper-mission.
Wise words, Thomas. They are elements all actors have to consider when approaching a role.
What are your character’s thoughts on the world?
How do they view themselves?
What is their objective?
How do they fit into social scenes?
What is their background?
And so on. But also remember. Don’t be a doughnut and get too bogged down or ‘actory’ (nothing worse). Go out and do something practical. Fly a kite. Be a nice person.