Sam Heughan (Ryan)
Ryan could hardly be more different to Jamie, your character in Outlander…
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been on Outlander for a while and Jamie’s an established character, a thoroughly decent guy. Ryan is such an intriguing character with a lot of history and secrets. He’s not the nicest guy – you could say he’s lost his way.
What is Ryan’s relationship to Danny?
They are former partners in the police force who worked very closely together and became very good friends, to the extent that he was the godfather to Christina (Imogen King). Ryan supported Danny (James Nesbitt) when he got into trouble so they’ve always had each other’s backs, but you get the feeling that Ryan’s gone down this dark path after spending too much time out on the streets and getting mixed up with the wrong people. When they meet in the gym, Danny knows Ryan’s not telling the truth.
Does Ryan have his own family?
We do hear about a partner but it seems like they split up after quite a tempestuous relationship because Ryan’s not an easy guy to live with. He seems like a bit of a loner. He’s got anger issues, a lot of pent-up aggression and he’s quite unstable – the kind of character I hadn’t played before.
What does the two-hander bring out in you?
The script is so strong, and there are three scenes in the whole episode: one in the gym, one in the changing room, one in the car. They’re really long scenes, extended takes and they wanted to shoot them differently. They’re very intimate, very intense and while that’s slightly scary, it’s also really appealing, jumping feet first into something. It felt like a piece of theatre where you’re in this long take and you really don’t really know where it’s going to go. We had a really good time.
Was it as intense to make as it is to watch?
It was very intense, especially because ours was the first episode to be shot. We had a day of rehearsal in the gym, which helped because it was an MMA gym when I had thought it was more of a weightlifting gym. We could incorporate a bit of bag work, boxing and Muay Thai in there, which was great because I did some Muay Thai training in Thailand years ago. I enjoyed that breathlessness because Ryan is a high-energy, on the edge guy. You could really feel the sweat, which lent a lot to the scene.
How did you enjoy working with James Nesbitt?
He’s great fun, but he also brings such a level of intensity and heartache. You don’t know if Danny is a sane man or whether it’s all in his head. You’re really questioning every character as a viewer, and Ryan knows he’s been caught out by Danny, so he’s having to think very fast. It was a thrill to work on all that with him.
Does Ryan think Christina has taken her own life?
Well, he’s got his own secrets and probably knows more about the situation than he’s letting on. I think he feels responsible in some way, because he was supposed to be looking out for Christina and they were very close. But all the characters have guilt somewhere.
Did you give Ryan a backstory?
I think you have to. He’s such a shady character, so surrounded by lies, that sometimes I think he believes some of them himself. But deep down, he’s not a bad guy. He cares for Danny and still considers him a friend, but he’s just lost his way completely. Desperate, is the word.
What was the highlight of the shoot for you?
To be alongside those other great actors was an honour, but my favourite part was filming in the car. We were driving up a motorway and had to turn off because of an accident, so we were suddenly stuck on these minor roads doing a long, seven-minute take. We managed to hit every light as we went through, which was really exciting.
What do you think viewers will get out of the series?
I think they’ll definitely get caught up in it. Each episode is only 30 minutes long, but there’s so much going on. You could watch the episodes multiple times and get more out of each one every time.
What else are you working on?
Filming for Outlander season seven is underway, then there’s It’s All Coming Back to Me, a romcom with Celine Dion and Priyanka Chopra. I feel really lucky having been able to fit Suspect into my schedule. If there was ever a season two, I’m hopeful Ryan might pop up again…
Richard E Grant (Harry)
Harry is introduced in the previous episode as “some rich prick”. Does that sound about right?
I didn’t know that – that’s news to me! How other people see you is not how you see yourself, and I would say that he obviously doesn’t see himself like that. He’s grieving the loss of Christina (Imogen King), his quasi-adopted daughter. That was my steer into it, so while I’m sure he is a rich prick, there is more to him.
Was Harry a surrogate dad to Christina and she a surrogate daughter to him?
Yes, so that after her suicide, he’s as devastated as though it’s his own flesh and blood. That causes friction with Danny (James Nesbitt) when Danny accuses him of murder.
How did Harry make all his money?
He owns strip clubs, racecourses, racehorses, he deals with betting – whatever makes money. He doesn’t have the moral compass that many might recognise, but does he see himself as a villain? No.
Is he now regretting putting money before everything else?
Yes, I think there is regret that he doesn’t have his own children and isn’t married – no amount of money is going to alleviate that. His life has been entirely taken up with chasing the buck and he’s paid a belated price for that.
Do Danny and Harry find they have things in common?
Harry is determined that Danny takes responsibility for the neglect of his daughter. Harry stepped in as a self-appointed stepfather, but what is so hurtful to him is that it’s Danny that Christina wants, not a surrogate like Harry. Harry is very unforgiving and relentless in saying to Danny: you fucked up and you have to take some responsibility for your daughter’s death.
How does a two-hander test you as an actor?
It feels very like doing a play in that there’s nowhere to hide and no action sequences to distract. You have to totally rely on the person that you’re playing opposite and hope you can step up to that standard. It’s like playing tennis, thwacking the ball across then hoping it’s going to be swiped back at you and you don’t miss it.
What was James like as a playing partner?
He was very private, completely self-contained. Apart from saying good evening and goodbye, because they were night shoots, there was no small talk outside our scenes. He didn’t speak at all and seemed to stay completely in the painful state that his character is. I’m sure that helps, in that we were playing characters who had never met before.
Did you enjoy working quickly?
It meant very little sitting around. On Downton Abbey I remember we had a dinner scene with two pages of dialogue which took almost four days, because you have to cover every single angle. Whereas if you’ve got two talking heads, there is only so much that you can do, so it’s much more economic. Dries (Vos, director) also said up front that he liked to do very long takes, so you might do six or seven pages of dialogue in one take, which is also very unusual and more like doing a play. That was also out of necessity, because if you’ve only got four nights to shoot an episode, there’s no messing around. You have to get on with it.
You filmed your scenes at Windsor race track – do you enjoy being around horses?
I do. I ride and enjoy them, although there was only one night where we were actually filming with a horse. You learn a great deal about Harry and the depth of his anguish during that scene.
What’s coming up for you?
Persuasion with Dakota Johnson, which comes out on Netflix in July.
When veteran detective, Danny Frater, turns up at a hospital mortuary for what he thinks is a routine ID check, he gets a devastating shock; the deceased – a young woman – turns out to be his estranged daughter, Christina, and according to the post-mortem report, she’s taken her own life. Although the medical evidence points overwhelmingly to suicide, Danny refuses to accept the findings of the autopsy, and he sets out on a chaotic and often agonising crusade to discover what really happened to his daughter. Over the course of 24-hours, and through a series of intense exchanges with those
closest to Christina – her partner, her best friend, her business partner, her godfather, her mentor, and her mother (and Danny’s ex-wife) – he learns about her increasingly dark and complicated life comes face-to-face with his own failings as a man and a father and the part they may have played in her demise. Struggling to make sense of a mass of contradictory testimony and circumstantial evidence, Danny must decide who, if anyone, is responsible for Christina’s death and what he’s going to do about it.
Suspect kicks off with a double bill on Sunday, June 19, 2022, at 9pm and 9.30pm on Channel 4.
Each episode is half an hour long, with each one featuring a different character as Danny tries to unravel the truth about his daughter’s death.