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Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess on apocalyptic new BBC drama Hard Sun

Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess play two very different detectives in new pre-apocalyptic BBC crime drama Hard Sun. The duo talk to Georgia Humphreys about the intense filming and the show's dark themes.

Renko (Agyness Deyn) and Hicks (Jim Sturgess) on the case in new BBC cop drama Hard Sun

WHAT would you do if you found out the world was going to end in five years?

That's the burning question raised by new BBC One drama Hard Sun. Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess play two very different detectives who discover a mysterious cosmic event is going to destroy the planet – something the British government want to hide from the public.

"I was really taken by the fact that it was a concept that eclipses politics, it eclipses religion," says Jim, who's known for films such as Fifty Dead Men Walking and One Day.

"It is the wipeout of everything. It holds no prisoners."

Here, Jim and Agyness tell us more about the unique crime show.

:: EXCITING ROLES

The six-part series, set in contemporary London, is written by Neil Cross, the creator of Idris Elba cop drama Luther – so expect Hard Sun to be gritty, fast-paced and full of action.

"It's pretty exciting stuff," teases Jim, who takes on the role of family man Charlie Hicks.

He adds with a chuckle: "I never imagined playing a detective, to be honest. I guess I see myself on the other side of the law – I'm normally the criminal or the drug addict."

Hicks may be committed to his job as a police law enforcer but early on in the first episode, it becomes clear he's also profoundly corrupt.

Agyness, meanwhile, plays Elaine Renko – a difficult and damaged detective with secrets of her own.

Was it a role the former model, who moved to the world of acting five years ago, ever envisioned for herself?

"I'm really drawn to women who have a strong point of view and are very headstrong," says the 34-year-old, who has mainly had big-screen roles so far, such as period drama Sunset Song.

"I just felt that Renko was the extreme of that."

:: HUMAN CONNECTION

The drama explores the interesting dynamic between Hicks and Renko, who stand on different ends of the social and moral spectrum.

Both stars agree that their on-screen relationship is quite unique.

"One thing I was drawn to is it felt very much human to human, rather than gender being in it," Agyness explains.

"It was about two humans having this sole urge to fight."

"It's about two completely opposing detectives," Jim says. "Whether they are men and women is completely irrelevant really – well, not irrelevant, but that's not the through-line."

As someone who's worked his way up through the ranks, Hicks is snobby about Renko's more academic journey into the police force.

She also fills the position that once belonged to his best friend, who we discover has recently died, adding a whole other level to the drama.

"Hicks' DNA is to be suspicious and investigative and paranoid," Jim elaborates.

"He carries a dark secret which is eating him up inside, so there's a real struggle there. He's instantly very wary of Elaine."

:: DARK THEMES

The detectives are forced to put any differences aside, though, as they desperately try to carry on enforcing the law.

As the series goes on, and everyone finds out about the assured destruction of the planet, crime rates go through the roof – murderers, abusers, serial killers and cult leaders emerge.

Hanging over everything is the show's central theme – the "fundamental drive every human has to survive", as Agyness puts it.

This leads us on to the difficult topic of what people facing certain death in the real world must go through.

"I found and read a lot of interviews with people with terminal illness," Jim says. "They were talking about the journey of understanding that there's a full stop to their life, and knowing when it is."

"I have had friends who have had a few months [to live] and they come to some peace with it," Agyness shares. "You're forced to change and you're forced to go into a space that you never go into."

It's clear their role in Hard Sun has given the stars a lot to think about.

"It's a show about relationships and people's dynamics on the ground," Jim reflects, "but actually, it's about space and the cosmos. It's so vast, and that looms over us – which it does in real life, we're just not able to put our minds there."

:: INTENSE FILMING

Agyness confides how difficult it was to get the show out of her head while shooting, especially because she was away from home.

"I was never really fully present in what I was doing [outside of filming] because I was always in the headspace of Elaine, or the headspace of Hard Sun," says the Lancashire-born model/actress, who now lives in LA.

In fact, Jim reveals the mentally and physically intense filming period – there are some memorable fight scenes – "nearly destroyed" them both.

Luckily, though, the cast had each other to lean on throughout.

"There's only one person on the planet who knows what I went through every day and that's Agyness," Jim shares.

"So, very similar to the characters in that sense – there's only one person that knows what Hicks is going through and that's Elaine."

Having now finished filming, is it hard to stop thinking about the terrifying possibility of an apocalypse?

"When you Google stuff that is going on in space, it's amazing that we're still here on this planet," Jim exclaims.

"There's a lot of cosmic debris going on up there. So, something like Hard Sun, it's not so crazy."

:: Hard Sun starts on BBC One on Saturday January 6 at 9.35pm.

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