Eddie Marsan believes audiences are drawn to tragic stories because it helps prepare them for grief.
The Sherlock Holmes star plays the father of a teenager in Channel 4's new four-part drama Southcliffe, about a quiet market town devastated by a spate of shootings after a lone gunman goes on the rampage.
Eddie said: "I think humans create these stories, in books, films, TV and plays, in order to go through a cathartic exercise which prepares us to deal with grief. Because grief is part of life. We will experience grief at one point or another.
"But grief isn't the end of the story, you transcend grief, you come out the other side of it. You may not think you will but you do.
"And I think these stories take us through that rollercoaster ride and get us through the other end."
The events of the tragedy and its aftermath are seen through the eyes of a local reporter, played by Rory Kinnear.
Eddie said: "I think it's effective to look through the eyes of a journalist because of how painful the subject matter is.
"As an audience when we watch it we are always slightly detached because we are terrified of going into it. It's almost like a middle man between these characters and the audience."
:: Southcliffe begins on Channel 4 on Sunday, August 4.