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24 September 2014
Life on Mars

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Characters & Actors

DCI Gene Hunt

DCI Gene Hunt - Philip Glenister

Gene's an old style cop, not scared of throwing a few punches to get a result. Actor Philip Glenister explains more about his character.

"I would say he was a maverick. In his head, he lives in a western and sees himself as the sheriff at high noon, the way he goes around policing, which is probably quite true to the way it was back then.

"It's all black and white with Gene; there's no grey area with him. With that style of policing it was much more intuitive and not as scientific as it is nowadays; back then they had to be more instinctive with their approach.

"He's dealing with crooks. There's a very fine line between the criminal and the copper and I think he sometimes gets very close to crossing that line but he does always ensure he stays on the side of the law.

"What was interesting was working out how old Gene was in 1973. He talks about the war and he would have done national service and stuff like that."

Philip sees similaries between Gene and certain football bosses.

"There's definitely an element of Brian Clough in Gene. In a very famous clip from the Seventies, Clough was asked in an interview 'what happens when somebody disagrees with you or has a different opinion?'. He replied: 'I like to sit there, listen to what they have to say, then half-an-hour later they realise that I was right'.

"I thought that was so Gene. He is a cross between a Seventies football manager like Clough, and a current manager, someone with an arrogance, maybe Chelsea's Jose Mourinho.

"Gene dresses like a football boss - his big camel coat and slip on shoes - and his relationship with Sam is kind of like that of manager and star player - like Ferguson* and Beckham - when there can be friction but there is also a lot of respect. It's a grudging respect from Gene but he realises that he sees a lot of Sam in himself. He sees Sam as both his prodigy but also his nemesis.

Although completely different, Gene and Sam's policing methods do seem to complement each other.

"They make a good team. Sam has the scientific capacity and Gene has the instinctive capacity and if you marry the two, you end up with the best detectives money can buy. I think that's the key to their relationship, meeting in the middle and combining the skills they have. When that works they get spectacular results."

The role of Gene saw Philip get behind the wheel of a Ford Cortina* and film a lot of car chases.

"I did as much stunts as I could. Our stunt co-ordinator, was keen to let me do as much as possible but obviously for insurance purposes it didn't allow for certain things.

"It was very difficult to handle the Cortina without power steering; I was rather shocked by it. It was a rust bucket really so when it's not your car you can throw it around a bit. It was great fun, quite a flash motor for the time.

"I was putting my foot down, slamming on the brakes and trying to hit certain marks which meant I had to do several rehearsals to get it right. But I'd hate to get back into my car on the weekends because I'd be driving with my missus and she'd say 'you're driving awfully fast dear, can you slow down - you can do it at work but this is Richmond...'"

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