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24 September 2014

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Lennie James as Luke Gardner

Lennie James Interview

"Once upon a time, he was a basically good man," says Lennie of his character Luke Gardner, "But he's been accused of doing a terrible thing, which he probably didn't do.

"However, in the past he did do other terrible things, so he's racked with guilt and self-loathing. He is waiting to be punished for a crime he did not commit.

"It's a gripping journey about how one faces one's own death. He's a soldier, so he's prepared to die - although not in the way that he may be forced to die here.

"There is such a lot to play. It's almost Shakespearean in the emotional twists and turns he has to confront.

"We don't have the death penalty in the UK, but I'm currently working in the US, a country which does, and it makes a marked difference. It really affects the way people process the law.

"The death penalty in the US has become a political tool - and it should never be that. The way Luke is being used in The State Within is a testament to how there is always a vested interest in whether you put someone to death. I find that very disturbing.

"Apart from State of Play, we haven't done much of this kind of grown-up, thought-provoking drama. We've just been doing cops and robbers. The State Within demands a certain intelligence from its audience. It doesn't just wash over you - it asks for commitment. And that's a really good thing."

Lennie's previously played prisoners in Buried and Lucky Break. His other credits include The Family Man, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Cold Feet.

For more information on Lennie visit The Internet Movie Database »*

* The BBC is not responsible for the content of non-BBC websites.



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