An interesting new interview with Tom Riley promoting ITV series Dark Heart has been shared by Drama Quarterly, who chatted to Tom when he was in LA. He briefly mentions The Toll Road, as well as the challenges of costume changes when filming the 6 episodes in London. Read it in full on the website. Dark Heart begins tomorrow night at 9pm on ITV, and continues on Thursday night.
The six-part series, which debuts on Wednesday, tells three stories across two episodes each.
The first sees Staffe investigate the murder of a man found tied to his bed, choked and severely mutilated, the victim of a possible revenge attack after previously being arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting two young girls.
The second story sees Staffe and his team examine the mysterious death of a young nurse on the London Underground, where DNA is found matching that belonging to a teenage boy who went missing and has been presumed dead for seven years.
The final story involves an online porn star found murdered in a church.
The return of Dark Heart comes two years after a feature-length pilot, which makes up the first two episodes of this full season, first aired on ITV’s now defunct pay TV channel ITV Encore. But it was successful enough for the broadcaster to commission two new stories that will continue to see Staffe struggle to balance his personal and professional lives.
When viewers first meet Staffe, “he’s tortured, he’s not in the best state. He doesn’t behave in the best way to the people around him.” explains Riley, whose previous credits include Da Vinci’s Demons and The Collection. But while police procedurals can be difficult to reinvent, with cops always able to get the job done despite their personal flaws, the actor says Staffe stands out because his personal demons don’t help him do his job but rather stop him doing it better.
“With this character, what was interesting was this stuff is kind of an obstacle to him,” he says. “It isn’t necessarily the stuff that makes him a good cop. It’s the stuff that stops him being the best cop and stops him being the best family member. So rather than a guy who’s like, ‘Well he’s got a temper but my God when he gets mad at the villains they’re going to give it all up,’ it’s like, no, he needs to mature slightly. I think he’s in a state of arrested development from this tragedy in his past and he can’t quite get past it.”
It’s also one of those examples where actors have to stop trying to find any similarities to the character they’re playing and just play them as they are on the page. “It’s funny really because you want to find the place where you meet the character. You don’t want to be putting it on too much and find bits that are like you,” Riley says. “I guess elements of perfectionism and wanting to get everything right are the stuff I connected with. Everything else was just, ‘Oh ok, I get to act out, that’s fun.’”
The 11-week shoot played out across London, with many long days to incorporate the high number of night sequences required by the script. The English capital’s lack of space meant finding a unit base close to locations also proved tricky, with Riley recalling having to change costumes in pub toilets and in a strip club basement. But, he says, “the most challenging thing is shooting in Soho on a Friday night, with a bunch of people who have had their full working week and you’re in the middle of your working day and they’re out and wasted and want to look into camera and tell you you’re not famous and who are you and why are you here? That stuff was really encouraging!”