Demands of shooting crime thriller Suspect left actor drained
James Nesbitt was left “f***ing exhausted” by the emotional demands of filming his new Channel 4 thriller series, Suspect.
The 57-year-old plays veteran detective Danny Frater, who turns up at a hospital mortuary for what he thinks is a routine ID check and finds out the deceased is his estranged daughter, Christina, who, according to the post-mortem, had taken her own life. He refuses to believe the autopsy and, over the course of 24 hours, tries to find out who, if anyone, is responsible for her death.
He said: “I’m not a method actor, but the real challenge for me was sustaining Danny, staying in the moment the whole time and being alert to what the other characters were saying to me, because we’re all getting so many different pieces of information and each character has their own agenda. You’re never sure what’s true, because so much is hidden.
“There wasn’t a lot of rehearsal. The week before the first episode we’d do a read-through and rehearse for a day, then shoot for four days. Then I’d have a couple of days off to learn the next episode, come in and spend a day talking about the script and then shoot. It was thrilling, demanding and an affirmation of why I still love the job — an opportunity to show myself what I could do. I was f***ing exhausted, but to work with so many great actors and getting each piece of the jigsaw to fit felt special.”
The Coleraine actor stars alongside Joely Richardson, Anne-Marie Duff, Richard E Grant, Sam Heughan And Ben Miller.
“Imagine having the opportunity to work with actors like Anne-Marie Duff or Niamh Algar. Richard was going through a difficult stage in his life, as it wasn’t long since he’d lost his wife, but he had one extraordinary speech towards the end of our episode and just nailed it in one take. To work with young Sam was fantastic and Joely was a brilliant playing partner. I worked with Sacha [Dhawan] and Antonia [Thomas] a long time ago on The Deep, so to see them thriving was wonderful.
“Anne-Marie had a spare week and came in quite late and it was a thrill to watch her unlock [her character’s] grief and rage. Niamh has an incredible energy and an extraordinary truth, which makes you up your game. Everyone brought such authenticity and preparation and threw themselves at it, which I love. I enjoy a kick up the a***, because I’m very competitive, and this was healthy competition.”
Despite the toll of filming, Jimmy didn’t get much of a break afterwards: “I’m in the middle of filming series two of Bloodlands — not exactly light relief.”
Suspect will air on Channel 4 later this year.