Caught In The Web Of Deceit
The Serpent is a new BBC drama set in the 1970s which started on New Year’s Day and here’s an interview with one of its stars Amesh Edireweera…
Please describe Ajay to us.
Ajay is from Mumbai and comes from nothing. He meets Charles, and in the chase for the high life becomes his right-hand man. This leads him to make choices that propel him to a much darker side of himself. There is a duality to playing Ajay – on the one hand, portraying someone so violent was at times very challenging and often harrowing. It’s difficult to like a character who does such unspeakable things. But on the other hand, there is something fascinating about playing a human being who makes a series of terrible decisions at an impressionable time.
The Serpent is your first screen role. How did it feel to take on such a complex, substantial part so soon after graduating drama school?
I really don’t know – I didn’t think about any of that at the time! The whole thing was a crazy experience that I didn’t process until five months after. I just jumped on the ride and off it took me. Every day was a masterclass. It is truly incredible to have worked alongside and be able to learn from these phenomenal actors. Everyone has been really kind and supportive along the way.
Were you at all aware of the real-life events that inspired The Serpent, prior to your involvement with the series?
Nope, not at all! I mean, the whole story is completely mental. So, all of it was a real shock. Ajay in particular is interesting because there are no direct accounts of him – just some evidence from other people speaking about him. For me, the greatest shock was hearing his parents talk about him. There was a tape I listened to from Richard Neville who interviewed Ajay’s family. They described him as such a “good boy” and “clever”. In the interview, I listened to Ajay’s mother talk about “her boy” and felt connected to the love that she still showed for him in spite of everything that has happened. I felt a real sense of sorrow for the family.
How did you find your time filming out in Thailand?
The whole experience can be summed up as life changing!
Finally, why do you think BBC One viewers should watch The Serpent?
Richard and Toby (Finlay)’s writing produces an electrifying story that’s charged with the mercurial quality of Charles and Marie-Andrée, as well as Herman’s passion to seek justice for the young victims. That’s what makes this real life story so compelling.