Spooks: The Greater Good enjoyed box office success earlier this year and saw actor David Harewood take on the role of Warrender, one of the new additions to the popular franchise.
Harewood teamed up with director Bharat Nalluri as the hit BBC spy series was adapted for the big screen for the first time. It has just been released on DVD & Blu-Ray and we caught up with the actor to chat about this film, his character, and the busy year he has had so far.
- Spooks: The Greater Good is set to be released on DVD here in the UK, so can you tell me a bit about the film?
Spooks: The Greater Good picks up where the television series left off with Peter Firth's character heading up the spy agency and they have a high profile terrorist prisoner at the beginning of the film. We then go through this labyrinth of a plot and story where we try and track him down. The movie is packed with twists and turns and has the wonderful Kit Harrington as the lead MI5 guy Will Holloway. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with lots of twists, turns, and lots of action.
- You take on the role of Warrender in the film, so what was it about the script and the character that was the major appeal for you?
I was very aware of the TV series and knew that it had a big fan base. I find spies and playing CIA guys and MI5 guys quite fascinating as they are one thing on the surface and another thing just below the surface. I found that very attractive because you don't necessarily show everything and you keep a lot of hidden. I was just very keen to work with the cast and the director and Spooks is such a British institution that I really wanted to appear in the movie.
- Warrender is one of the new additions to the popular franchise so where does you character fit into the story?
I am the joint Chief of Staff and I am the liaison between the government and MI5. He is trying to appease all sides as he has the government breathing down his neck but he is trying to keep MI5 together and funded; in this day and age everyone is struggling for funding and he is doing his best to keep MI5 from being completely shut down. The fact that this terrorist has escaped is not good news for the institution and he is battling on all fronts to keep the agency alive but also please those in government who want to shut it down.
- Of course, this movie has to appeal to the loyal TV fan base as well as attracting a new audience, how well do you think this film does that and strikes that balance?
It has got the original director of the show as well as the original writers on board. They have struck a really good blend... some of the shots of London are extraordinary and it is beautifully shot. There are great performances all of the way through. As I said earlier, the movie is packed with twists and turns and I all fans of the show will recognise the maze like plot.
- The movie sees Bharat Nalluri - who is no stranger to the world of Spooks - so how did you find working with him?
He is a great guy, a really really great guy. I did feel very safe in his hands. However, half way through my first morning I was feeling very uncomfortable and I felt like I was rubbish. It took me two or three hours to realise that I was the first time in three years that I had spoken in an English accent when I have been acting; I had been doing all of my acting in an American accent.
It really did take me a little while to settle and feel comfortable. I have to thank Bharat for ushering me through that first morning because I really did feel very uncomfortable but he kept giving me encouragement. It did take me a while to settle but once I relaxed, I could listen to the could listen to the sound of my own voice again.
- How collaborative a filmmaker is he? How open was he to you bringing your own ideas to the characters and the scenes?
Very much so. Working with Tim McInnerny was fantastic and we giggled a hell of a lot on our first morning. It was such a great cast as Jennifer Ehle and Elliot Levey were also on board. There was a lot of laughter on set and it really was great to work with all of them. Bharat was very open and he didn't come in saying 'you go here and you go there,' it was very open and he gave us room to move. Some of the shots and the way he was shooting was very precise and we had to be exact in our movements but it was always collaborative and always fun to be on set.
- The movie has enjoyed a theatrical release and is now coming out on DVD & Blu-Ray, so how have you been finding the response to the film?
Unfortunately I have been here in America so I haven't had the chance to sit with everyone, I have missed the premiere, the screenings, and I missed the reaction to the film. I caught a little bit of the reaction on Twitter and I picked up a little bit on social media. It does seem to have received a great reception and people have really enjoyed it; it's just a shame that I wasn't in London at the time to feel the full benefit.
- We are also going to be seeing you in movies Tulip Fever and Grimsby - can you tell me a bit about those projects?
Tulip Fever is based on a very well-known book by Deborah Moggach, which is set during the stock market crash back in the 17th century in Holland. Again, another great cast as Jack O'Connell, Zach Galifianakis, and Judi Dench are all on board - you don't say no to stuff like that. It slotted in perfectly with what I was doing as I was shooting Grimsby at the same time.
I went from one end of the scale to another as I was giggling with Judi Dench one morning and then laughing in a pub in north London, surrounded by half naked hooligan extras with Sacha Baron Cohen, it was very very funny. I don't really have a career plan, if the phone rings and it sounds like a good project, then I put myself in the mix. This year has just been wonderful as I did Grimsby and then I went on to do another BBC spy drama The Night Manager. I have been extraordinarily busy and it has been a really fantastic year and I hope it continues to get better. .
- During your career, we have seen you move between TV and film, so how do the two mediums compare?
I have done a lot of stage work as well. Stage work has been a great grounding for me as it is a great place to learn your craft and cut your teeth. I have had the chance to play Othello and Martin Luther King, which were great and challenging roles.
You work really hard in theatre and when you come to a TV show, you don't do half as much work but get paid more money (laughs). I am fifty this year and you have to make sure that there's some coppers in the cupboard. I have managed to move between film, TV, American TV/film, and theatre for the last ten or fifteen years and it has just been fantastic. I am incredibly lucky and it continues to be very exciting.
- Speaking of TV, you are going to star in the new series Supergirl as Hank Henshaw, so how have you found stepping into the comic book world? And how did this role come about?
Again, I was out here for pilot season a couple of months ago and they just called up and asked if I was interested in coming to play this particular role. I have got to be honest, straight out of the bat I thought 'this sounds terrible. When I read the script it was fantastic. The experience of doing it has been phenomenal and our lead actress Melissa Benoist has just been having a phenomenal year.
She is a real star in the making and she really embodies this character and has an inner goodness that just oozes out of her. She is such a wonderfully charming and talented actress and I have really high hopes for this show. It has been very exciting shooting it and I can't wait for people to see it because the scripts are great. I am looking forward to people seeing it and I hope that we get a nice big audience and we will get that second season pick-up.
- Finally, what's next for you going through the rest of this year?
I have a film coming out called Free in Deed, which is the completely opposite end of the scale to what I have been doing so far. It is a true story about a Pentecostal priest who tries to pray a demon out of a child. He believes this child is possessed by a demon, he tries to exorcise this child, but he kills the child. Jake Mahaffy is a wonderful director and he was inspired by the story of how faith can be incredibly challenging.
It was an amazing experience to go and shoot that last year. That will be coming out this year and I am very excited about that. A Midsummer Night's Dream is also doing the festival rounds. I have quite a few things coming out over the next few months, so it is a very exciting time.
Spooks: The Greater Good is available on digital download from 14th September and available on Blu-ray and DVD from 28th September 2015, courtesy of Entertainment One.