John Simm has said his new role in BBC historical drama The Village challenged him to identify with a wife-beating drunk.
John, 42, plays frustrated farmer John Middleton in the six-part series about an English village over the 20th century.
In an interview with The Sun, the Mad Dogs actor has said he needed to find a way of relating to his violent drunk character.
He said: "You have to find something in every character. You have to identify with them or be sympathetic with them - even if it is only a tiny chink of light, you have to grab it.
"Otherwise if you don't believe it you can't expect anyone else to believe what you're doing either."
John said he concentrated on his character's passion for his farm and providing for his family.
"He is too proud and stubborn and it's his undoing, but ultimately, underneath it all I can identify with him in some way."
John, who calls his character "a very scary father and husband", also learned some tough physical farm skills along with screen wife Maxine Peake, star of Silk and Shameless.
The 24 Hour Party People actor said: "I can do scything now, which is back-breaking work. I had mud coming out of my ears. We had torrential, cold, wet and muddy weather while filming."
The Village starts on BBC One on Sunday at 9pm.