In the 'Sexy Beast' Trailer, a Crime Saga Goes Back to the Beginning

Emun Elliott, Stanley Morgan and James McArdle in "Sexy Beast"

Emun Elliott, Stanley Morgan and James McArdle in "Sexy Beast"

(Photo: Matt Towers/Paramount+.)

In our current entertainment environment, almost no one likes to take risks, professionally speaking. It's why many "new" pieces of media are little more than rehashed versions of old ones. (Even in the best of circumstances.) From sequels and larger franchise universes to spinoffs and prequels, existing intellectual property is king. Sometimes, this works out --- like Prime Video's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and HBO's House of the Dragon are successfully mining the origin stories of other, more famous properties. But sometimes, it feels like the reason for returning prequel universe isn't exactly clear. 

Such is the case with Paramount+'s Sexy Beast, a prequel to a feature film that, while critically acclaimed at the time of its release, wasn't exactly a blockbuster. Released in 2000, the original movie starred Ray Winstone (The Departed), Ben Kingsley (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar), and Ian McShane (American Gods). It followed the story of retired criminal Gary "Gal" Dove, who is forced into doing one last bank robbery by his former BFF, a violent London gangster named Don Logan. The movie garnered extensive critical acclaim and multiple Oscar nominations, becoming a foundational piece of the British gangster subgenre embraced by directors like Guy Ritchie

The Paramount+ drama is a prequel series, though it's not entirely clear who out there was clamoring to learn more about the characters from this particular universe. I'm genuinely curious how many viewers almost a quarter century later even remember this movie was a thing and I'm not entirely sure who out there was clamoring to return to this universe or learn more about the origins of the characters in it, but here we are. (And you're forgiven if you, like me, keep mixing it up with that weirdo Netflix reality series where people went on blind dates dressed up as various animals.) The show will dig into the origins of the complicated relationship between Gal and Don as they find themselves descending into the seductive madness of the London criminal world during the vibrant and volatile 1990s, even as Gal’s budding relationship with future wife DeeDee threatens everything in their world.

Sexy Beast stars James McArdle (Mare of Easttown) and Emun Elliot (The Gold) as younger versions of Gal and Don, a pair of small-time thieves and best friends in the East London of the 1990s. Tamsin Grieg (Belgravia) is Don's pathologically controlling older sister, Cecilia, while Sarah Greene (Bad Sisters) plays DeeDee Harrison, a younger version of Gal's future wife, now a captivating adult film star whose ambition --- and love affair with the man she'll go on to marry --- put her in danger. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is a younger version of McShane's Teddy Bass, a rising name in the London underworld who pulls both Gal and Don into his criminal web. 

“I feel very fortunate to be a part of this world,” McArdle said in a statement when the series was announced. “The original story leaves so much space for us all to wonder what happened within Gal and Don’s friendship in the years prior. I’m looking forward to everyone being able to rediscover these characters and find out.”

Additional cast includes Eliza Bennett (Dynasty), Clea Martin (Hanna), Nicholas Nunn (Time), Peter Ferdinando (The Letter For The King), John Dagleish (The Third Day), Robbie Gee (Extraordinary), Paul Kaye (The Stranger), Lex Shrapnel (Domina), Cally Lawrence (Call the Midwife), David Kennedy (Honour), Julian Rhind-Tutt (Greenwing), Ralph Brown (Godfather of Harlem), Nitin Ganatra (Bodies) and Alice Bailey Johnson (Still Up).

The series was filmed in Liverpool, and is produced by AC Chapter One and Anonymous Content in association with PTIS, the international studio division of Paramount Global. Michael Caleo, Nicole Clemens, Antony Smith, Michael Scheel, JC Acosta, Alastair Galbraith, and David Caffrey are executive producers, along with David Scinto and Louis Mellis, the writers of the original film. 

Sexy Beast will premiere globally on Paramount+ on Thursday, January 25.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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