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A quick chat with Tom Hughes about the spy thriller The Game

2015-11-11 13:25

Cape Town – BBC First (DStv 119) debuts it’s edgy spy thriller, The Game set in the cold war on Wednesday at 20h00.

When a defecting KGB officer reveals the existence of a devastating Soviet plot, codenamed Operation Glass, the charismatic but paranoid head of MI5, known simply as Daddy, assembles a secret committee of spies and intelligence officers to investigate.

Tom Hughes plays operative Joe Lambe; a troubled but genius interrogator, he’s able to read every tic and giveaway of human nature. He has a dark past and a dangerous secret.

Tom sat down for a quick Q&A about the series and his character.

What can you tell us about the character of Joe Lambe?

He is a honeytrapper, which means he sleeps with women for information. We meet him a year after a big event in his life where he fell madly in love with a girl called Yulia, who act as an informer for him at the Russian embassy. At the start of the first episode we see what looks like Joe offering himself up to the KGB to betray his country and to act as informer. One year on, Joe is back at MI5 and a broken man.

How much of an affect do you think the Cold War has on the character of Joe?

I think any war would affect anyone. It affects his life on a day to day basis as we’re talking about a period where the technology isn’t at the level it is now, so espionage was very different. In terms of his emotional stability that has nothing to do with the war, it’s about the loss of love and the lack of love in his life.

What are his special skills that led to him being brought in to this group recruited by Daddy?

Joe’s good at reading people and is able to shift his emotional state. He’s a man that’s never been comfortable in his own skin from a young age and has a lot of dark within him, so he’s learnt to manage his own emotions. Joe has an uncanny ability to know when people are telling the truth and to know what they really mean by the things that they say. His instincts are sharp and MI5 like that.

What attracted you to the role of Joe and ‘The Game’ when you first saw the script?

For quite a while I’ve been lamenting the lack of parts that have the same dexterity of conflict in the leading man compared to what we had in the 70s. During that time there seemed to be an array of characters that dealt with all the sides of what it meant to be a man, from the pressure of being perceived to be strong to also dealing with the sensitivities of emotion. I found that Joe had every single facet in one character. I couldn’t have been more excited. It’s something I desperately wanted to do.

How important do you think the scenery and the set has been in setting the tone for the drama and helping you to create the role of Joe?

It’s everything. I’m not a big watcher of TV and films, but I have caught Mad Men over people’s shoulders before and that has such an attention to detail, period detail, so you’re immediately transported to that time. It helps suspend your disbelief straight away. It’s the same as an actor when you walk on to a well-dressed set. The attention to detail on the set of The Game is amazingly good. I just have to put my suit on, my sideburns; I smoke a cigarette and walk on to the set.

If you could have one of Joe’s attributes what would it be?

His shoes, he’s got amazing Chelsea boots! But really that’s a hard question as Joe is quite a messed up character. It would appear on the surface that there is a freedom to him, but all that comes from a dark place and at a cost. I don’t think you could take one facet of Joe without taking all the crap that comes with it. I’d like to be his mate as I think he’s a decent bloke, but there is a lot of darkness there and I don’t think I would like that in my life.

Do you think Joe is quite different from the rest of the group?

I don’t think he feels allegiance to anything in his life, even to himself. To a degree he’s emotionless; he’s in his own world, his own bubble. He just happens to be phenomenally good at what he does. I don’t think he finds the job exciting, I just think it’s just what he’s good at doing. For a lot of the other characters this feels like it’s a career, it’s their life. It’s not for Joe.

Watch the trailer here:

Catch The Game Wednesdays at 20:00 on BBC First (DStv 119)!

(Photos: BBC First)

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