The ITV press pack promoting the broadcast of Dark Heart on 9th November, can be shared from today. The pack has a few new stills of Tom as DI Wagstaffe, and an interview with him, which reveals that he is about to film (or is possibly now filming), a comedy drama series. No more details about Tom's new job are shared in the interview or online anywhere that I can find, and I have hunted everywhere. I don't get told anything, so am of no use.
How would you describe your character DI William Wagstaffe and his role in Dark Heart?
William Wagstaffe is a relatively young detective. He’s probably slightly too young for the position he’s in and I think because of that he hasn’t quite learned how to handle his emotions in relation to cases.
He’s incredibly good at his job but he’s living under the weight of a crime that he endured as a child. He witnessed his parents being brutally killed and the killers were never found. They are out there somewhere and he’s determined to find them. I think he’s gone into police work solely to learn the skills to solve this one crime.
Unfortunately, with every other crime he witnesses he can’t shake off his own memories of what has gone before. This helps him as a detective because it keeps him passionate and driven but it also hinders him in his personal life.
Have you ever played a detective before and what’s it like to lead your own crime drama?
I’ve not really played a detective before. I did Da Vinci’s Demons and that is occasionally a bit like ‘CSI Florence’! I’ve never done anything that’s been this procedural style.
Leading a drama is something they never teach you at drama school and it’s a crucial skill being number one on the call sheet. You have to be professional and on time and you’re completely responsible for the mood on set, which is something you don’t realise unless you’ve done it before, or unless someone shows you.
In fact, I did Monroe for ITV a few years ago and James Nesbitt was the perfect example of what it’s like to lead a huge ensemble cast. He always showed up on time and was so friendly and so kind to every guest artist. It made me realise that’s how you do it and that’s how to behave on the set.
I was also lucky with Dark Heart because being at home and working in London is a rare thing and I enjoyed it a lot.
What are the crimes Wagstaffe is investigating?
Paedophiles are being attacked brutally and what makes this case so interesting is that the morals of it are so murky. You can’t help but feel that justice is being done in some way to people that have committed hideous crimes but it’s not being done within the remit of the law.
The question is should vigilantism be encouraged or punished? Wagstaffe pursues this case through London, all the while trying not to let the fact he so desperately wants revenge on the people who killed his parents to effect how he approaches a case that is fundamentally about revenge. It’s a very dark subject matter.
Did you find filming intense?
I’ve got better at that. I’ve done jobs before that have been all consuming and you take it home with you, but with this job the hours you spend in these intense situations are enough, without then going home and bringing that to your social life as well.
I’ve got pretty good at switching off and also we try to have light conversations between scenes. We find black humour in it all.
What research did you do for your role?
We had great rehearsal time with Colin Teague, the director, and he’d had a lot of interaction with a policeman in my position, which he passed on.
Tom Brooke who plays another police detective in the drama has a best friend who is a policeman and he gave us lots of useful information. He told us cop show clichés that we should try to avoid to make it more real.
What stunts did you do for the role?
I had to beat someone up and I also had to get royally beaten up in a very dark, unpleasant warehouse, where the floor was covered in dirt and grit. That was a long fight. It took a whole day to film and I was covered in bruises by the end of it.
I like doing my own stunts though. When you’re genuinely out of breath and genuinely in a bit of pain it makes you give a better performance.
What’s Will’s relationship with his sister like?
Charlotte Riley plays my sister, Juliette. She’s an incredible actress and I was really excited to work with her. We’ve never crossed paths before. Despite our surnames we’re not in the same family. She was brilliant and really fun on set.
Will and Juliette are both carrying this wound of what happened to them in their childhood. They both deal with it in very different ways. She’s going out with different men, abusive men, and William feels a duty to help her. She doesn’t particularly want her brother being so protective and their relationship is strained. They love each other very much but more out of obligation than anything else.
Is there a lady in Will’s life?
Will dates Sylvie played by Miranda Raison. He generally has trouble letting people close to him. He dates women and then pushes them away because he’s so obsessed with his work and his past. It’s impossible for him to sustain a relationship. He’s still drawn to Sylvie though, because she understands him more than anyone else. She gets where he’s coming from and she has empathy and sympathy for him.
He occasionally goes to her but he doesn’t give her what she needs, he just gets what he needs.
You’re a British actor but you spend a lot of time in the States. When you’re away, what do you miss about the UK?
Bake Off! I also miss the seasons. In LA it’s blue sky and sunshine all the time but I like the way London changes through the seasons. I like how the colours of the leaves change and I like Christmas.
Weirdly in LA people seem to attempt to create seasons by changing their clothes – they’ll put on a winter coat and I’ll still be in a T-shirt!
What other TV do you enjoy, apart from Bake Off?!
I like watching shows about true crimes such as Making a Murderer and The Jinx. Danish crime dramas have been great recently. I’ve just binged Stranger Things and Transparent.
If you hadn’t been an actor, what would you have been?
I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was so young. I don’t know where the impulse came from. My parents aren’t from the industry and had no idea about the industry so they didn’t have the knowledge to tell me not to do it, so they encouraged it and luckily it worked out. I wouldn’t know what else to do. I love writing, so maybe I’d do that.
What else have you got coming up?
I’ve got a movie coming out called Starfish which also stars Joanne Froggart and it’s about a real life couple where the guy contracts sepsis and loses his legs and arms and face over night. I play him and it’s about their love story and how they survive afterwards.
I’m also in The Collection, which is on Amazon Prime, and I’m about to start work on a new comedy drama series with some brilliant actors.