Grace Under Pressure
♦ 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 Nikki Amuka-Bird, who plays Grace Morrigan in the series…
What drew you to Hard Sun?
I’d heard about it before I read it because I already knew Neil. I played DCI Erin Gray in his series Luther. So, I was delighted when he approached me about Hard Sun.
What makes Neil’s writing so special?
When Neil calls, you’re part excited, part terrified, as you know you will have to go on a rollercoaster! It’s very flattering to be asked, but also nerve-wracking because this character is very scary. Neil is an incredibly lovely person with a very dark mind!
Can you please outline your character for us?
Grace works for the security services. She is urgently sent into clean up when Renko and Hicks discover a flash drive containing top, top secret information. Her job is to make sure it doesn’t get out because that would endanger the masses and cause anarchy.
What is the significance of her name?
Neil chose the name Grace because she’s working for the greater good on a macro level, and trying to protect the public on a micro level. She is prepared to sacrifice people to achieve her aims. There is good intent behind her actions, even though those actions can be questionable.
When researching interrogators like Grace, what did you learn about them?
These people are actors or shape-shifters. They become whoever they want in order to get the information that they need. That’s a connection with acting. That was the way in for me. Neil is asking us to stretch the limits of imagination in Hard Sun, so the way to get there is to ground it in as much detail from reality as possible. Grace can read people very well, and that is an art I find fascinating.
How would you describe Grace’s interactions with Hicks?
She draws him into her scheming. She is saying, I know that somewhere in there is the person I need to help with my mission. What lengths will he go to protect his family? It’s a real cat and mouse game. Grace plays with Hicks, but in the end that emboldens him and creates a monster.
Has working on Hard Sun been rewarding as an actor?
Absolutely. This is one of the most ambitious dramas I’ve ever read. Neil asks a lot of you as an actor, which is what we all want. It’s very satisfying to play. There is a lovely atmosphere on the set, and yet the material is often on the edge of horror. As a cast, we’re trying to find nuance and complexity so the audience is drawn into the story, even though it contains some moments that are extreme.
How do you think audiences will respond to Hard Sun?
I think it will be a genuine, visceral experience where the viewers’ hearts are racing. It will involve audiences completely in what they’re watching. TV can do that. Ultimately, this is groundbreaking drama. And when you’re acting in it, it doesn’t feel like work at all!
And here are the other Hard Sun chats we have run
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