Thursday 17 Apr 2014
Up until now DI Alex Drake has been pretty much alone in DCI Gene Hunt's world. No one understands her situation and her desperation to get home; but then DCI Jim Keats arrives in CID. Keats is played by the hugely talented actor, Daniel Mays, who has just finished filming The Adventures Of Tintin in the US with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson.
His character in Ashes To Ashes not only challenges Gene and all that he is and believes in, he also plays an integral part in tying up the story of Life On Mars, Ashes To Ashes, Gene Hunt and his kingdom. So, just a small role for the Essex born actor to take on...
Jim Keats arrives at CID with a huge task ahead of him; not only does he have to investigate the shooting of Alex Drake, he also has to infiltrate the team and determine if Gene should be allowed to carry on running his department.
Daniel explains: "Jim's a real pen-pusher who does everything by the book. He's precise and methodical and oversees all investigations undertaken by CID so that he can compile a report on Gene Hunt and his team.
"Jim is that guy looking over everybody's shoulder and telling them how to do things correctly which really gets under Gene's skin and leads to some great scenes of confrontation and conflict."
For most people walking into Gene Hunt's world would be an intimidating prospect but Daniel decided, from the outset, how he wanted to portray Keats.
"The sparks really fly between the two of them and I made a choice to make Jim as strong, stoic and hard as Gene. I didn't want him to be seen as a pushover or wet in any way," reveals Daniel.
"My character really challenges the dynamic between Gene and Alex but the thing that really winds Keats up is that Gene continuously calls him James which is quite disarming for him.
"However, I personally found it refreshing to play someone with authority because, in the past, I've played a lot of troubled characters. I definitely haven't played a disciplinarian before or someone so high ranking.
"The great thing about it is that you have to take on board the status of the character and the impact he has when he walks into a room which I quite enjoyed. It was certainly something new for me!"
But with character tensions put to one side, were Philip, Keeley and the rest of the gang open to an outsider joining their team?
"They were all absolutely lovely," Daniel says, smiling broadly.
"I'd worked with Keeley on a film called The Bank Job and worked with her husband, Matthew Macfadyen, on Middletown so she welcomed me with open arms and the rest of the guys were great to work with."
"It was quite strange walking into CID for the first time though," reveals Daniel. "The ceiling is very low and, while it is quite an oppressive office, the period detail is second to none. There were cassettes and old magazines lying around which made it a great environment to work in because the detail was top notch."
When offered the role of Jim Keats, Daniel admits he was slightly apprehensive because of the huge cult following for both Ashes To Ashes and its predecessor, Life On Mars.
"The fans love both shows so much and they love what Gene Hunt stands for, his characteristics and his relationship with Alex," explains Daniel.
"I think the great thing about Ashes To Ashes is that it is very much its own show. However, an interesting factor of this series is that Life On Mars bleeds into it and the mystery surrounding Sam Tyler will be resolved along with Alex's story."
Daniel is known for his gritty roles including award-winning Mike Leigh films All Or Nothing and Vera Drake, BBC drama White Girl, Channel 4 series Red Riding and BAFTA-nominated independent film Shifty, but the critically-acclaimed actor has recently made the leap to Hollywood.
"I was lucky enough to be cast in Steven Spielberg's and Peter Jackson's new Tintin movie which we filmed in LA last year," reveals Daniel.
"I play a double act with Mackenzie Crook, called Allen and Ernie, and it was shot on motion capture which was something I've never done before. It was a fascinating project and a once in a lifetime experience."