Peaky Blinders

An epic gangster drama starring Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and Helen McCrory on BBC Two

Interview with Sam Neill

Campbell is clearly a man of his time and haunted by several things. There’re other dimensions to Campbell apart from being a maniac: he’s kind of sad character too, he’s got a sad dimension to him."Sam Neill
Category: BBC Two; Drama

Tell us about your character

I play Chief Inspector Campbell. He’s a tough cop from Northern Ireland. He’s probably fairly psychotic but he’s a righteous man, an upright man whose mission is to clean out the cesspit that is Birmingham in 1919 and by God, he’s going to succeed. Campbell is clearly a man of his time and haunted by several things. There’re other dimensions to Campbell apart from being a maniac: he’s kind of sad character too, he’s got a sad dimension to him. I think he probably served in the Boer War and he learnt some practices that probably shouldn’t have been reimported back to the British Isles.

Tell us what drew you to the character and the project

What drew me to the character was two things. One was the story and the second is the words really, beautifully written dialogue, you don’t get a chance wrap the laughing gear around words like this very often and so I was very excited about that. A third consideration, of course, is who you’re gonna be working with and it’s very important to me in terms of other actors. It makes the day considerably more enjoyable when you’re working with people you think are good and it makes your job easier too. So really that’s it, character, script and company.

What preparation did you do to get into the character?

There’s always something going to be difficult in a part. Many aspects of this character come very easily. The difficult one, of course, is the Northern Irish accent which many actors will tell you is one of the most difficult in the world. So I was slightly daunted by that, but I got some good coaching, including my friends Liam Neeson and Jimmy Nesbitt, who of course are from those parts, and they were very helpful as well. For all those people in Northern Ireland, I say blame it on Jimmy and blame it on Liam, it’s their fault.