Tom Hollander Talks BBC’s Baptiste

Tom Hollander Talks BBC’s Baptiste

Hiding A Dark Secret

Tom Hollander is one of the stars of the BBBC’s Baptiste crime series with its third episode on tonight and here from the BBC himself he chats about appearing in the new series…

Tell us about Edward’s character? What is his background story?
Edward is quite a sad chap. He doesn’t have a very good job in logistics which he is barely holding on to. When we first meet him in episode one, he is a desperate man. His niece, who is a prostitute in the Red Light District in Amsterdam, has gone missing and he is trying to find her. She’s been gone for two days and he is running around the Red Light District showing her picture to anyone who will look at it, including the police, none of which have anything to say. He is in a state of extreme distress.

Baptiste spends quite a lot of time in the show trying to work out who Edward is. If you have a difficult week coming up and you are watching this show on a Sunday evening, nothing in the week that you are about to face is as bad as what Edward is put through, so paradoxically, it might make you feel better about whatever you have got to confront in the coming days.

What is Edward’s relationship with Julien?
His relationship with Julien Baptiste is complicated, because he needs Baptiste’s help but he also doesn’t tell him the entire truth for reasons which will become clear. Ultimately Edward is on his own and the character is a very isolated, lonely figure. He has a sort of friendship with Julien but it never really becomes a proper friendship, and Julien has a lot going on in his own life which has nothing to do with Edward, which Edward has no knowledge or understanding of.

If it were a Western they would be two gunslingers working on the same job, who are sort of professional without being that close. Like Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner at the beginning of The Magnificent Seven. But there are no horses and neither of us have American accents, not in this anyway.

What is Edward’s relationship with Genevieve?
Edward’s relationship with Genevieve is much simpler than his relationship with Baptiste, in that he just finds her incredibly annoying. They have a pretty combative relationship and they never really resolve it. The scenes are quite funny between the two of them, they are amusing because they are so rude to each other. She traps him in a hotel when he would much rather be out trying to find what he needs to find, and find the people he needs to find and save his niece. Instead he is stuck in a hotel and forced to sit in a sauna for some amount of time.

Have any scenes been particularly challenging to film?
Playing Edward is a challenging part because he is in extreme distress for the majority of the story, because of the horrible things that are happening to him which will become clear if you watch it. Playing that is quite exhausting because you have to remind yourself of the reality of his situation, which is a reality that most people would find intolerable. It is extremely painful and distressing because he is in a really dark place. I have found all of that quite tricky because you can’t really laugh it off. There are very, very few jokes in Baptiste. There really are possibly two in six episodes and you might not notice them.

How would you describe the Baptiste series in three words?
Really. Quite. Dark. 

What’s it been like filming in Amsterdam and Belgium?
I have loved filming in Amsterdam and Belgium. I only came to Amsterdam once before this, as a young man, and like many young men I can’t really remember what happened when I was there. As an adult now, I’ve learnt to see how beautiful it was.

Belgium I knew nothing about, but it’s marvellous. The Belgians are very cool and it is a wonderful country, very civilised, and somehow modest. Belgium’s been very quietly tucked in there, not shouting from the rooftops about itself. Everyone seems to speak three languages, which is obviously hugely impressive, and they’re quite laid-back.

The strange thing about filming things, however dark the story is, the experience is mostly to do with the crew and where you are, and even though the story is very unhappy the experience of making it has been a delight. That’s all I would say. But hopefully you won’t see any of that enjoyment on the screen.

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