Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
DCI John Luther is a dedicated copper, dazzling, possessed and sometimes dangerous. But Luther has paid a heavy price for his dedication; in series one his wife Zoe was brutally murdered by Luther's old colleague and former best friend Ian Reed.
Luther is struggling to accept the loss of his wife and to cope with an overriding sense that it was his own obsessive dedication to his work and his immersion in the dark and dreary world of crime that caused her death.
Idris reminds us where we left things in the last episode of the first series.
"It was a very dramatic climax and Luther is just a complete mess following the events of the last series, he feels up against the whole world.
"At the start of the two new specials, we see a new unit formed – the Serious and Serial Crime Unit headed up by DCU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), a former adversary, you could call him my nemesis almost.
"Schenk was a really popular character and I think the writer, Neil Cross, wanted to bring him back – well we all wanted him back. So it seemed a logical step to put him in a position where he can actually keep an eye on Luther.
"The structure of the new unit is different from the previous unit. Luther is still a DCI, but he's a bit more of a team player now because he has to be, under Schenk's say-so."
Idris goes on to explain that it's not such an unusual set up, as there was a real sense of a meeting of minds with Schenk and Luther, although of course in the first series he investigated Luther.
"‘There seemed to be a bit of animosity from Luther at first, but ultimately Schenk is very good at his job and Luther respects that and I think that's what propels their relationship, they really respect each other."
The other big relationship from the last series is DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown).
"At the end of the last series DS Justin Ripley is demoted to uniform and forgotten as a Custody Sergeant, and I think John felt really guilty about that. So we see him trying to fix that and making an effort to get his partner back in the new unit. I think that John's guilt is eased a little bit when he sees Justin back on the team.
"It shows Luther has a compassionate side, he does have a heart after all, something else we see more of this year. He's tough and filled with a lot of demons, but he has absolutely got a heart. Definitely, and in this series his heartstrings are pulled even more because he's lost a big part of his life.
"Luther has changed, he becomes a team player. In the new series, he's got Schenk as his new boss, so he's playing the game a bit more, but you know, what makes him unique in the force is that he beats his own drum."
Series one saw some gruesome cases and characters.
"‘Neil Cross definitely knows how to delve into the darkest realms of life. This series sees Luther drawn into the most savage and cruel parts of the criminal world, confronted with challenging cases, I think it gets darker and more intriguing."
The new Serious and Serial Unit introduces complex, terrifying characters, whose mindsets Luther must understand and get to grips with.
"There's a great twist in the last two episodes, it just blows your mind. Luther gets drawn in, deeper and darker. Neil's created some great storylines for viewers to look forward to."
And as for how Luther will deal with that darkness, particularly after his recent trauma: "I think it's a case of he almost doesn't want to do it but he has no other choice, he feels compelled to do it. I think if Luther was given the option to die, he'd prefer death."
Luther's strange and compelling friendship with Alice Morgan was cemented into an unholy bond when Alice killed Ian Reed in series one.
Luther's alliance with the beautiful psychopath continues to haunt and taunt him in series two.
"Alice is back, she was another favourite character first time around and there is definitely a connection there. Ruth Wilson is great in that role, but I don't want to say anymore than that, you'll have to tune in and find out.
"The other new characters include DS Erin Gray [Nikki Amuka-Bird] who joins the team, She proves quite a challenge for Luther and makes Ripley's life quite difficult too. Ripley is torn between being loyal to Luther and being very procedural.
"Kierston Wareing joins the cast as Caroline Jones, she's the wife of a police officer that Luther had to put in jail. Luther gets involved in helping her out because he feels guilty about putting her husband away. So again Luther doesn't keep things simple, there are more complications and dilemmas he has to deal with."
And as for filming the new series as two, two-part specials?
"It's a format thing, it gives our audience a different way to watch Luther. I think Luther can be big television specials and episodics. So it'll be interesting to see how the audience reacts, but we thought we could tell bigger stories in two two-hour specials."
Did you get any feedback from real detectives?
"Not personally, but I know the detective who advised us on the show, who helps us with the series, his team love the show."
Idris Elba won a Golden Globe nomination for his role as Luther and was also honoured at the 42nd NAACP Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, and he talks about the reaction both here and in the States.
"I'm delighted of course, really pleased about the reaction here and in the US, and it was great the American audiences liked it and really accepted it.
"My taste and brand of drama is set in both worlds, so hopefully, as a producer, part of that hopefully impacts on the drama."
As for what Idris likes about playing Luther, Idris says: "He's a dark, very brooding character and that's always fun to play. I also like that he's extremely dynamic and fearless and I love that fearlessness about him, there's nothing he won't do to try and get the bad guy. You read these fantastic scenes where he does this odd stuff to really mean people and it's crazy, I love it."
And what is it he finds the most challenging?
"Getting up at 5.30am every day, ha ha! But seriously, Luther is the most demanding role I've ever had in my life, emotionally and physically. I can't play Luther slouching!"
And as for what Idris hopes the audience will go away with after seeing the new Luther specials: "I hope they'll be excited, engrossed and thrilled. Luther takes viewers to places where TV drama rarely goes. It's an emotional roller coaster, full of unexpected twists and turns. Hopefully, we're going to knock people out. That's what we aspire to do, anyway."
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