Interviews

'Bloodlands' Star James Nesbitt on Playing Traumatized Characters, His Love of Northern Ireland and More

When you hear the name James Nesbitt, you may think of any one of the Northern Irish actor's dozens of film and television roles over the past three decades, including Cold FeetPeter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, Waking Ned Devine, and The Missing. His career has indeed been prolific.

Nesbitt's latest role, in a new BBC mini-series called Bloodlands, will arrive on Acorn TV this March. A thriller about a detective investigating the apparent return of a shadowy Troubles-era assassin, the series is set and was filmed in and around Belfast. We had a chance to speak to Nesbitt himself about his homeland, the often traumatized characters he plays, and more.

'Des' Star Daniel Mays on Bringing a Real Person to Life, Working with David Tennant and More

Even if the name doesn’t ring a bell, British film and telly fans are sure to be familiar with the work of Daniel Mays. Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2000, this Essex-born actor has spent the last two decades bringing authentic characters to the screen in such varied projects as Vera Drake, Doctor Who, Line of Duty, and Fisherman's Friends. 

We recently conducted a phone interview with the actor wherein he discussed, among other things, his recent role as DCI Peter Jay in the crime drama Des, his admiration for director Mike Leigh and his growing Instagram addiction.

Girl Power, Rooks and ‘Victoria’ the Novel: Our Chat with Series Creator Daisy Goodwin

Jenna Coleman and Rufus Sewell in "Victoria" (Photo:  Courtesy of ITV Plc/MASTERPIECE)

Period drama Victoria ‘s first season is currently airing on PBS’ Masterpiece and it’s pretty much exactly the kind of thing your Sunday night needs. The show has been extremely successful already - it was UK network ITV’s most popular drama last year, and has already been renewed for a second season, with an additional 2017 Christmas special on the way.

Long live the queen, indeed.

Just after the season premiere here in the U.S., we had a chance for a quick chat with series’ creator Daisy Goodwin. Before helming Victoria - and writing all eight hours of its first season – Goodwin studied history at Cambridge University, with a focus on Queen Victoria. She’s also a rather accomplished author and has published several novels, including My Last Duchess, The Fortune Hunter and The American Heiress.

We got the chance to speak with Ms. Goodwin for a few minutes on a variety of topics ranging from Victoria’s feminist leanings to the historical accuracy of the show’s portrayal of Lord Melbourne to her latest book, the novel Victoria that stands alongside the series’ first season.

Read on for a transcript of our conversation, and a few fun insights about the show and the queen it is based on. 

A Chat with 'Vera's' Brenda Blethyn

A few weeks ago I received a press release in my email from Acorn TV alerting me, as a blogger, that the streaming service was about to premiere a new episode of Vera Series 5 every Monday for the entire month of July. (Editorial note: For those of you without Acorn TV access, Series 5 of Vera begins on WETA on July 17, and on other PBS stations around the country beginning at various points this month. Enjoy!)

What really caught my eye, however, were these words - INTERVIEW OPP: Brenda Blethyn. I immediately shot off a reply to Acorn’s publicity assistant expressing my keen interest to interview the Academy Award nominated actress. After over a dozen emails and lot of re-watching of Vera episodes, I found myself sitting in my living room yesterday morning waiting for a conference call from Brenda Blethyn herself.

This being my first interview with a well-known actress (or anyone really for that matter), I was a bit nervous and more than slightly giddy. Nonetheless, as soon as I got the first question out of the way, Ms. Blethyn put me at my ease. I know it’s not very professional to gush about your interview subject and perhaps I should be more objective, but I just have to say that Brenda was gracious, generous with her laughter and obviously very passionate about her work. I was already a fan of her acting and now, after speaking with her, I’ve gotten the distinct impression she’s a pretty awesome human being as well.

But enough from this star-struck blogger; please enjoy the conversation I shared with Brenda Blethyn wherein we discussed cast changes, Vera’s fashion sense and why she enjoys playing our favorite Northumberland and City police officer, DCI Stanhope.

How Should ‘Downton Abbey’ End? Watch the Cast Weigh In

One of the only good things about knowing for sure that Downton Abbey’s ending after next season is that it gives Julian Fellowes and company plenty of time to plot satisfying resolutions to all the main story and (hopefully) give all the major characters an appropriate happy ending.

Determining what those endings should look like though will doubtless occupy those of us that think and obsess and write about British TV through the rest of the year. How can we say goodbye to these characters? What sort of endings do we want to see for them? And what sort of closure do we need from their current story arcs?

Fans apparently aren’t the only people thinking about these obviously super important issues. Masterpiece put together a cute video featuring several of the series’ major cast members contemplating the question of what sort of ideal endings they’d envision for their characters next year.

Watch: Benedict Cumberbatch Does Impressions of Literally Everyone

If Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be a bit more, well… everywhere than usual of late, that would be because he’s been out doing the press rounds for the impending release of his buzzy Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game. (Which, if you haven’t watched the trailer for that yet, you can do so right here – and you really should it’s going to be equally everywhere this awards season).

This has led to a veritable avalanche of Cumberbatch-related print interviews, video snippets and Q&As on various social media platforms. It’s so much that even the most die-hard Cumber-enthusiast (such as myself) may have had a hard time sifting through the lot of it. That’s why it’s important to distill all this down to the essentials – which is exactly what this video is. It is awesome and it will make your day.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Jar Jar Binks Impression Will Definitely Improve Your Day

Apparently, even being at Comic Con this year, I missed a lot of Comic Con! There’s simply so much going on at the world’s biggest festival of all things geek that it can seriously take you a week or more after the event concludes just to dig through all the gems – clips, interviews, trailers, whatever – that come out of that four day span. It’s the best kind of crazy.

My latest and best find involves Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, who made his first appearance at San Diego’s annual convention this year, supporting his upcoming films The Penguins of Madagascar and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Part of this involves not just appearing on panels for those films, but doing a positive truckload of press, whilst so many entertainment journalists are all in one place. Cumberbatch, like everyone else, did the rounds, speaking to folks from all the major outlets.

He sat down with MTV’s Joshua Horowitz – one of my favorite entertainment writers and, quite frankly, one of the best folks at doing celebrity interviews – and the resultant chat is, to put it mildly, fairly epic, particularly when the two get to discuss nerdy topics, as one does because it’s Comic Con. The two end up discussing Star Wars whether or not the presence of the floppy-eared nightmare known as Jar Jar Binks in The Phantom Menance can be justified and proceedings devolve into the two doing rather freakishly accurate impressions of the character.

Just watch it. Trust me. It’s the best thing you’ll see today.

Watch: An In-Depth Chat with ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Joanne Froggatt

Since we’re all undergoing fairly severe Downton Abbey withdrawal by this point, most of us will gladly sit through anything we can get that might even be tangentially related to the show. Luckily, getting to watch a fairly lengthy new interview with Joanne Froggatt, who plays everyone’s favorite housemaid-turned-ladies-maid Anna Bates, doesn’t even feel like cheating. So, why not do that?

Buzzfeed editor Jarrett Wieselman sat down with the Emmy-nominated actress recently as part of a special event for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles, which involved a screening followed by a Q&A session. Happily, it was recorded for those of us who don’t have SAG cards. The two chat for about forty-five minutes on a variety of topics, ranging from Froggatt’s early days as an actress, to her initial reaction to the script for Downton Abbey, to her experiences filming on the set.

And of course, she really digs in to Anna’s character and the responsibility she herself felt in being truthful to the character during her intense – and much darker – scenes this past season.

It’s well worth a watch if you’ve got a few minutes to spare!

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