Aspiring actor Tom Riley plays the disturbed Gavin Sorenson in this re-imagining of Bouquet of Barbed Wire. Gavin’s shocking introduction to the Manson family only scratches the surface of the sinister intentions he has planned… But, there is more to Gavin then meets the eye and a revelation shows a man with a tortured past.
Tom explains: “Gavin is one of those characters who is a gift to play. However, playing him could potentially be a trap as well because, to all intents and purposes, he can be portrayed quite easily as the bad guy, the evil guy, the guy people love to hate. Nonetheless, there is so much more to him than being a moustache twirling villain. Hopefully, by the end of the series the viewers will have a sense of understanding and sympathy for him, having seen the depth to his character and history as to why he does what he does, including the path of revenge he takes against Peter and the people he hurts and falls for along the way…
“This drama does differ from the original; one way specifically is the time we now live in. The original came out in the ‘70s and was shocking because of what it didn’t show. It was a product of the time and people remember it as ‘the incest drama’ but even though the incest was so gently implied, at the time it was such a shock. Now we have to approach it slightly differently as people are shocked less easily. The barrier has been raised – it’s a different audience in a different time and it’s a different way of doing it. Hopefully the power of the drama is enough this time around.”
Tom was keen to accept the role of Gavin having previously worked with writer Guy Andrews on ITV’s Lost In Austen. This role also sees him reunited on screen with best friend Jemima Rooper, who played the title role in the period drama.
“The scripts for Bouquet of Barbed Wire are fantastic. Guy Andrews is a brilliant writer; he has a real gift with character and dialogue. He can create characters in just a few lines. I previously did Lost In Austen with him, which had a huge ensemble of characters and he made them walk off the page. Knowing he was writing the series, working with fantastic producers, and the quality of the cast including Trevor, Hermione and Imogen Poots, and the part itself, gave me so many positive reasons to sign up.
“I know Jemima, she lives close to me and we worked together on Lost in Austen. She is one of my best friends so that was another great reason to do it.” Before jumping in front of the camera Tom carefully researched his role, but decided not to read or watch the original version.
“When you take on a heavy part such as this, involving domestic violence and abuse you owe it to people that have been through similar experiences to do research and go in whole-heartedly. Before I started filming I read books and case studies to help with my portrayal of Gavin. It was tough to read about the most horrific things people have gone through but it gave me a good understanding of how to approach the role.
“I didn’t read the original novel or see the original series purely out of choice. I’m playing the character Guy has written. If I watched someone else’s portrayal or read the original novel I’d be doing a different version to what he had written.
“During filming there was an intense atmosphere on set, but that showed how much everyone cares about this project. The making of Bouquet of Barbed Wire feels like a chance to do something that hasn’t been seen on television for a while; it’s great and engaging and thrilling, but it’s also brutal. I’m really excited about it and I hope it will shake up audiences who are used to lighter viewing.”