By ALYSSA SAGE
On the heels of The Night Manager’s outstanding reception in Britain, Hugh Laurie admits that he didn’t anticipate that the BBC-AMC spy thriller series would resonate with audiences in the US so rapidly.
“For some reason, we hit the right spot at the right time,” Laurie told Variety at The Night Manager’s Los Angeles premiere. “I hoped that it would be something that we’d all be proud of and I hoped that it would be something that John Le Carre would not disown,” he joked of the author, who penned the 1993 espionage novel that inspired the series.
According to Stephen Garrett, an executive producer on the six-part series, the show “hit the zeitgeist”. “You couldn’t go anywhere without overhearing people talking about it,” said Garrett.
He recalled coming across a page in a national newspaper that offered tips for re-creating Richard Roper’s, the fictional villain played by Laurie, lush interior design style. “Who would want to decorate their house like the worst man in the world? That was becoming part of the conversation.”
Garrett continued, “The question for us is, can the US be taken by storm in the same way? It’s so much more crowded – so many more channels, so many more shows.” But despite this, he adds, “It’s an amazing time for TV.”
Directed by Susanne Bier, the miniseries follows British soldier-turned-luxury hotel manager Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), who’s recruited to infiltrate the network of arms dealer Richard Onslow Roper (Laurie). In order to succeed in this undercover operation, Jonathan must engage in criminal activity.
“Spy stories are a staple for us,” said Laurie of the James Bond-style series. “They’re the way we tell stories about courage, honour and sacrifice and all these sort of big, almost chivalrous notions of conduct. This is a story that’s got all of that in it. It also has this beautiful, romantic, haunting figure at the centre: Jonathan Pine.”
Laurie also discussed the The Night Manager’s luxurious Morocco and Switzerland filming locations, which contributed to the first season’s steep US$28.7mil production cost.
“The world that’s inhabited by the character I play, who’s an arms dealer, is a very affluent one,” Laurie explained. “The story is about privilege and wealth. The superficial attraction of that world is part of what draws the character of Jonathan Pine in. I say superficial because all of these beautiful trappings of a wealthy life are based on terrible sin – crime in fact. It’s paradise, but there’s a serpent in paradise.”
Laurie and Garrett were joined on the carpet by Hiddleston, who praised Bier’s “incredibly precise” techniques.
“She has a very keen nose for the truth, in terms of what she thinks is permissible on camera,” Hiddleston said of the director. “She doesn’t want to see you acting, she wants to see you reflecting what real life is like – how real people talk.” – Reuters