A Different Kind Of Detective Work
♦ BBC’s new sci fi thriller Hard Sun from the brain of Luther‘s Neil Cross starts in January and here’s a chat with its creator Cross…
What was the inspiration behind Hard Sun?
I’ve loved David Bowie’s Five Years since I was a kid. Yeah, it’s a song about the end of the world. But it’s also about the value of the everyday, of the things we often forget to notice. Including each other. In making you recognise that, it leaves you feeling strangely uplifted and optimistic.
Can you tell us more about the concept behind the show?
Imagine the world you see when you look out of your window… except that it’s been given a death sentence. There is no hero to come and save us. That’s the world of Hard Sun. What’s it like trying to enforce the law in a city that, day by day, slips closer to certain destruction? How do you get up in the morning? And what about predators? What about the murderers, the rapists, the religious nuts, the cult leaders? Who among them would fear a prison sentence in a world like this? What’s the point of justice in the face of Armageddon?
What is the central relationship between Hicks and Renko like?
It’s not a buddy movie and it’s not a ‘will they/won’t they?’ drama. I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to have two characters who are mortal enemies, who have a profound reason to distrust each other… but who are thrown together by this terrifying secret. Renko and Hicks are forced to collaborate in order to survive, but there is a constant dance of trust and mistrust between them.
What has Jim brought to the role of Hicks?
You create a character then go looking for an actor. If you’re lucky, you find the right actor; one who inhabits the character so completely it becomes impossible to think it might have been any other way. And we got lucky. As Hicks, Jim is somehow as open-hearted and generous as he is secretive and corrupt. And when Hicks is confronted by the approaching loss of everyone he loves, Jim evokes that crisis with heartbreaking complexity.
Why is Agyness so right for the role of Renko?
Agyness is an incredibly intense and gravitational screen presence. She has an alchemical ability when utterly still to evoke profound depth of emotion and thought, inner strength and anxiety. And she’s disturbingly good at beating people up.
How do you think Hard Sun’s apocalyptic themes will affect its audience?
There’s strange comfort to be found in stories about the end of the world, but I think the wellspring of this pleasure can be found in the idea of transformation rather than annihilation: transformation of the world we know, naturally; but more importantly, of ourselves.
We like to imagine that, in such drastic circumstances, our workaday selves – weighed down as they usually are by nagging, humdrum anxieties – would be tempered, hardened, stripped back to their absolute essentials. To what really matters.
And nothing matters more than the people we love, the time we get to spend with them, and what we’d do for them, even in the face of the end.
So you think the show is ultimately optimistic?
Every story offers us a mirror. Renko and Hicks, compromised and morally ambiguous as they may be, are willing to be tested to destruction in the name of people they love. I think most of us would like to think we’d do the same. And I think that’s a pretty optimistic idea.
Here’s the other Hard Sun chats we have run too
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