The Version Interview... James Nesbitt on Stan Lee's Lucky Man.
BAFTA® nominated actor James Nesbitt stars in a bold new crime drama co-created by legendary comic book writer Stan Lee and Neil Biswas and produced by the makers of Downton Abbey.
Brilliant but troubled cop Harry Clayton (Nesbitt) is a compulsive gambler in danger of losing the thing he values the most: his family. Then, one night at the casino, just as he is approaching rock bottom, Harry meets the beautiful and enigmatic Eve (Sienna Guillory), who gives him a mysterious bracelet said to endow the wearer with immense luck.
To his great surprise, this lucky charm seems to work and Harry sees his fortunes begin to shift. However, this kind of luck comes with a price and soon Harry finds himself at the heart of a sinister crime wave sweeping through London. With luck on his side he sets himself against the city’s dark forces. But will it be enough to save him and his family?
A thrilling, action-packed crime drama about fate, gambling, superstition and the consequences of our actions, the series also stars Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited), Eve Best (Nurse Jackie), Darren Boyd (Spy), Omid Djalili (Moonfleet), Steven Mackintosh (Inside Men), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes), Jing Lusi (Holby City), Stephen Hagan (Against the Dark) and Alex Jennings (The Lady in the Van).
What sort of character is Harry Clayton?
He has been a detective inspector for a long time. He has a good heart and believes in doing right but has developed a serious gambling addiction, which has resulted in the loss of his home and his marriage. These issues stem from a devastating event in his childhood. Ever since, he has felt a bit guilty about his position in life and his reaction has always been to push things to the limit. Despite the fact he has a strong moral background, his methodology and his weaknesses sometimes get in the way.
What is Harry’s character trajectory as we follow him through the series?
The arc of his story is huge, a lot happens to him in the first five minutes, let alone ten hours! When we first meet him, he’s in a casino losing money and his debt is called in. He later meets the mysterious Eve [Sienna Guillory] and after Harry wins big at the roulette table, they spend the night together. The next day he wakes up with an ancient bracelet attached to his wrist, which he can’t get off. Each episode has a different story but there is a serial arc weaved through every instalment. We learn that the crimes Harry and his team are getting further and further involved in may all be linked. He starts to believe the mysterious bracelet may be able to help with his investigations but that there is a price to be paid, a yin and yang effect. That is where the Stan Lee aspect of the show comes in. It’s essentially about a flawed, modern-day hero who gets more and more entangled in this complex story.
Harry seems to butt heads with Detective Superintendent Winter quite early on, doesn't he?
Winter is Harry’s boss and they have history. It’s hard to gauge what he is like at the beginning but you get that he doesn’t trust Harry because of something that happened in the past. There’s also a sense he is out to nail Harry and he believes Harry is on the wrong side of the law. Seeing two policemen with similar causes and objectives, coming from very different places and the friction that causes is so interesting.
What were your first reactions on reading the scripts and joining the show?
There are so many things that make this story amazing, it just seemed so different to me. It’s a Stan Lee creation. There’s a great hero, and a massive thriller element to the show. The episodic stories alone are great but the way the serial arc is woven throughout the episodes adds an exciting twist of old-schoolstyle storytelling but in a modern context. The show also has a very strong ensemble cast with wonderful directors, some I’d worked with before and some I had wanted to work with. It just appealed hugely and I’m well aware of how lucky I am to be in this show.
What would you like the audience to take away with them after watching Stan Lee’s Lucky Man?
I hope the audience gets involved in all the stories and feel the jeopardy the characters are in and feel the pain they go through. I hope they understand and discuss the notion of luck and the difficulty that it can bring and, of course, that they have and exhilarating time watching it.