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TV Quickfire: Richard Armitage on new Netflix thriller The Stranger

The makers of Safe are back with new Netflix thriller The Stranger, based on the novel by Harlan Coben. We quizzed lead actor Richard Armitage to find out more

Richard Armitage as Adam Price in The Stranger
Gemma Dunn

INTRODUCE US TO YOUR CHARACTER AND YOUR ROLE WITHIN THE STORY

I PLAY Adam Price, who's a successful lawyer, family man, a dad and a husband. They are a pretty aspirational family and their existence is happy. They are heavily scheduled with their lives and I feel like sometimes they pass like ships in the night, but it's a good life. Then The Stranger sidles up to Adam at the football club and drops a bombshell on him.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE DRAMA?

Everything was a surprise as the journey that this character goes on is full of trap-doors and dead-ends. He's completely blind to the situation. Also, the big reveal happens in one of the first scenes of the show and you think, "Where do you go from here?".

WERE YOU FAMILIAR WITH HARLAN AND DANNY'S WORK AS WELL?

Yes, I watched Safe, which Danny and Harlan wrote together, which I loved. The thing I really like about Harlan's work is that it's always about a man or a woman who feels like you in an extraordinary and escalating situation. There were elements of Gone Girl in our story and I thought, "Oh this is really thrilling, this is an ordinary life that under the surface has become extraordinary".

HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR THE ROLE?

I pored through the book a number of times to extract as much detail as I could and then started to build a family photo album of their lives. Because the story happens in the first 10 minutes, I had to build their life before the bombshell hit. The album was their lives and their achievements, the birth of their kids, the holidays they went on. Alongside this I usually create a soundtrack, so I've got a visual and an audible account of their lives. I built the background of the characters through that and I wrote a biography of how Adam and Corrine (Dervla Kirwan) met. That found its way into a speech at the end of the story, so it was all connected to real events that I'd created and drawn on my own experiences to put in there.

WHAT'S ADAM'S REACTION TO HIS ENCOUNTER WITH THE STRANGER?

It was probably one of the most challenging scenes I've had because of its extraordinarily obscure flavour. If somebody comes up to you that you don't know and starts to tell you personal things about your life which are absurd, how do you react to it? What he doesn't know and doesn't show are the most interesting parts of the scene, and yet I had to receive what she was telling me. So, it's almost like being in a vacuum and he has to hear what she's saying and believe it but at the same time keep her at arm's length. We played with loads of different versions of the scene where he was very angry or completely mystified. He receives what she's telling him but it's not until later on at home when he starts to confront his wife that it's really sinking in.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE AUDIENCE WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THE SHOW?

I hope they come with Adam on this detective journey because he's trying to get to the bottom of not what happened, but what's happened to her. Initially you think it's going to be a big expose on what his wife has done, but it's really about finding out where she's gone and why. I hope that the audience are sitting on the edge of their seats trying to find Corinne as much as Adam is.

:: The Stranger launches on Netflix on Thursday January 30

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