As if you didn’t know, the next big, BBC1, Sunday-night drama is a four-part adaptation of Len Deighton’s SS-GB, which presents a classic noir set in 1940s Britain, where the Nazis defeated the Allies and now occupy the country. Sam Riley plays Detective Douglas Archer, while American actress Kate Bosworth plays a classic femme fatale – a mysterious US journalist who may or may not be what she seems. We managed to get hold of an interview with Bosworth, which you can read after the jump.
The Killing Times: What drew you to this project?
Kate Bosworth: SS-GB is unique. It is entertaining, but it’s also riveting. The sense of “what if this had happened? what would you have done?” is gripping. We know the history; we know that type of tragedy, but what if history had taken a slight turn?
TKT: Can you please talk us through your character, Barbara?
KB: I play Barbara Barga, an American journalist who works for the New York Times. It is 1941, and the British have lost the Battle of Britain. The Nazis have taken over most of England, and Barbara has been sent over by the paper to cover the story. It’s a little bit ambiguous as to what side of the line she stands. This project is mysterious in that we are left wondering what every character’s motivation is exactly. That mystery means she’s a little bit of a femme fatale from the 1940s. She’s been a really interesting, enjoyable character to play.
TKT: What attracted you to the character?
KB: I’ve always wanted to play a character from the 1940s. The look was very appealing to me. The physicality, the wardrobe, the hair and the make-up – that’s always been very attractive to me.
TKT: How did you go about your research for Barbara?
KB: She’s essentially like a leading lady from the 1940s. So I watched a lot of those films starring people like Lauren Bacall. I wanted to be inspired by that, but I didn’t want to do a caricature of the time. What is wonderful about having those leading ladies’ performances is we can watch and learn from them. But I also wanted her to be rooted in a deep sense of humanity and modernism that was important to the piece as well.
TKT: Were you also taken by the script?
KB: Definitely. I read a lot of novels, and the way the script read was very novelistic. I appreciated that. For me, it always starts with the words. So if the words grab me, as this did, then I’m immediately in. The writers have done an incredible job constructing this miniseries. If as a reader I’m intrigued by the script and am enjoying and questioning it, that translates to the audience.
TKT: Were you intrigued by the “alternate history”, too?
KB: Yes. I’m drawn to pieces that are rooted in history and those “what if?” scenarios. Those are interesting to people because it does feel like something one can imagine happening. We have this tragic history of the Second World War. So the idea of “what if the Nazis had won and infiltrated London? what would that have been like?” is fascinating. Whenever you have scenarios like this that are rooted in reality, it’s intriguing to people and terrifying as well. I liken it to a bullet whizzing by. You think, “how would that have played out?”
TKT: What is Barbara’s relationship with Archer?
KB: Barbara finds Archer very interesting. Archer first meets her when he sits at her cafe table without her knowing. Barbara is intrigued by that. Who is this person who has joined her at her table? What is his role in her life? And what is his role in this whole circumstance? There is an attraction there, certainly, and also a question mark. He’s curious about her role as well.
TKT: How did you find it acting opposite Sam Riley?
KB: It’s been a delight. I’ve always been a fan of his work since I saw him in Control many years ago, and I have wanted to work with him for some time. Sam is such a sweet, hardworking, wonderful person and actor. I love being in scenes with him. It’s one of those relationships where it has been effortless in creating the characters’ dynamic.
SS-GB: Sunday 19th February, 9pm, BBC1