Belfast Telegraph

James Norton bemoans focus on Eddie Redmayne's Eton past

James Norton has spoken out in defence of Eton-educated Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne.

Norton, who is currently starring as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in the BBC's latest adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's War And Peace, offered his take on "well-spoken" actors.

"If there's a higher amount of period drama, there's a higher amount of 'well-spoken' actors," he told the Radio Times.

The London-born star added: "It's a real shame, though, when you get somebody like Eddie Redmayne, who is such a great ambassador for British drama - two Oscar nominations in two years, it's extraordinary - and at least half the press coverage on him is about the fact he went to Eton."

Norton called the focus on the Oscar-winner's education "ridiculous".

The upcoming second series of Happy Valley, written by Last Tango In Halifax's Sally Wainwright, will see the 30-year-old reprise his role as psychotic Tommy Lee Royce.

Set in the Yorkshire Valleys, BBC One's award-winning crime drama stars Sarah Lancashire as police sergeant Catherine Cawood.

Dedication to her job masks Cawood's personal family tragedies: she believes Royce is responsible for her daughter's rape and eventual suicide.

Grandson Ryan (Rhys Connah) is a product of the assault on her daughter.

The policewoman's marriage to Richard Cawood (portrayed by Derek Riddell) broke down, she is estranged from her son Daniel (Karl Davies) and Cawood's sister Clare (Downton Abbey's Siobhan Finneran) is in recovery from heroin addiction.

Norton's acclaimed 2014 portrayal of unhinged Royce turned out to be his breakthrough role.

He received a Bafta nomination for best supporting actor in 2015, losing out to Stephen Rea who won for The Honourable Woman.

ITV's Grantchester followed, with Norton heading the cast of the 1950s-set series as sleuthing vicar Sidney Chambers.

The Yorkshire-raised actor also impressed as Sir Clifford Chatterley in BBC One's 2015 version of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

As the second much-anticipated series of Happy Valley gets under way, Royce is in jail.

With little to do other than work-out, the imprisoned man's focus is on his nemesis.

"He's spent hours and hours just lying on his bed, filling himself with hate for Catherine," Norton said.

To depict Royce's increased muscle bulk, the Rada-trained actor avoided alcohol and went to the gym for a month.

The relationship between Cawood and Royce was a highlight of the first run, but series two will see a change.

"It wasn't hard for me to get back into the on-screen relationship with Sarah, even though I don't, in this series, have the privilege of acting so much with her."

But Norton promised aficionados "an even stranger dynamic between them this time."

::Happy Valley is broadcast on February 9 at 9pm on BBC One.


From Belfast Telegraph