James Nesbitt on starring in new Netflix suspense series Stay Close
Scene quizzes Co Antrim-born star James Nesbitt about his role in the new Netflix drama series Stay Close, adapted from the Harlan Coben best-seller. Nesbitt spill the beans on his dogged police detective Broome, who gets another chance to solve a missing persons case years after the trail went cold...
FROM the same team that brought Harlan Coben's best-seller The Stranger to the screen, Netflix's new eight-part suspense drama Stay Close will have viewers questioning how well you can really know someone.
Adapted from the 2012 Coben novel of the same name, Stay Close centres on four people who are hiding dark secrets from those closest to them: Megan (Cush Jumbo), a working mother of three; Ray (Richard Armitage, who also starred in The Stranger), a once promising documentary photographer now stuck in a dead-end job; Broome (James Nesbitt), a detective unable to let go of a missing person's cold case; and Lorraine (Sarah Parish), an old friend of Megan's.
When Lorraine delivers some shocking news which will impact all three characters, the past comes back to haunt them – threatening to ruin their lives and the lives of those around them. But what will be their next move?
The show's writing team includes Harlan Coben's daughter, Charlotte, while the Stay Close cast also features Eddie Izzard as Harry, a crusading lawyer who has become a father figure to Megan over the years, and Jo Joyner as Erin, a quick-witted police detective who's also happens to be Broome's ex-wife.
Scene interrogated James Nesbitt about starring in the new Netflix series, which was shot in Manchester and Blackpool last year.
:: What attracted you to Stay Close?
There were many attractions: working with Harlan, working with new people like Cush [Jumbo], being re-united with Sarah [Parish], Richard [Armitage], [producer] Nicky Shindler and [director] Daniel O'Hara, and also finally getting to work with Eddie, whom I've known for a long time.
It was also great to get to work in Manchester again, which is a city that has underscored so much of my life.
:: You've portrayed some quite nasty characters recently, like the crooked cops you played in Bloodlands and Line of Duty: how did it feel to take on a good guy again with the role of Broome?
It was definitely nice to play someone with a bit of optimism about them, someone who wasn't either in his own personal hell or creating hell for others.
I really loved the honesty and decency and warmth of Broome, although there's a lot he keeps to himself. I also loved the idea that here was a man of my age or a certain age who maybe has a chance at getting some sort of redemption – not just professionally, but personally.
:: Are you a fan of Harlan Coben's writing and how has playing Broome challenged you as an actor?
I love the characters that he creates: it's all very well having wonderful stories and great plots but you need really good characters to be interwoven throughout them and to tell those stories honestly.
Really, I just loved the dogged determined determination of this guy [Broome] to find some sort of redemption for this case that went wrong, but also for life – because you do get to a stage where, I suppose, you don't know much of your personal and professional canvas is left to be painted.
So here was an opportunity for me to maybe explore bits of myself through another character. And I also get to see whether I'm still 'getting away with it': will I continue to get away with it, will there be more work and is there something else around the corner?
:: How did you approach playing this particular character and how was your experience of filming Stay Close in general?
I didn't know what to expect at all with this role as I kind of 'dipped in' to Broome, to tell you the truth, because there are at least three to five different stories going on.
But with that kind of 'interwoven' story comes the opportunity to work with so many different characters was that was really interesting – as was getting to play a love story in such extraordinary [Covid-restricted] circumstances with Sarah was something that I think will live with us both for a really long time. It was quite a journey for the pair of us I think, actually.
Actors always say this, but this job was a real joy – I looked forward to coming in to work every day for this one.
:: What kind of guy is Broome and was it a challenge to play what could have been quite a cliched character – just another workaholic cop with no time for a personal life?
I think there's a decency at the heart of Broome, but certainly he has struggled with women in the past. So much of his life has been dedicated to his job – and where Harlan is so great is in writing that kind of character, who is so utterly dedicated to his work and yet still challenged, transfixed and interested by it.
Broome is a man coming to the end of his career, yet he is still driven. This obviously re-ignites something for him, but I don't think even before that that he's just been kind of shuffling along.
However, he has maybe been shuffling along a bit in life. Work has managed to replace a lot of things in life that he maybe wasn't very good at – especially when you see his character with Erin [Jo Joyner]. That's such a great example of a relationship that didn't work personally but works professionally.
There's a loneliness to him, as I think there kind of has to be to someone who works in the job that he does. And yet it's very clear the minute he sees Lorraine after such a long time, he kind of goes 'oh my God'. I hope audiences pick up on that and wonder, 'who are they and what happened between them?'
That's the real cleverness what Harlan has created there, we see that 'oh God, there is a beating heart in there' and that the potential for love was there – and that he understood that potential too.
:: So there is humanity and vulnerability beneath Broome's all-business 'cop' exterior?
That's what I love most about Broome: whatever way it turns out, you do get to see the potential for happiness and love that he's had. It's come quite late in life, but he's this character that hopefully we like – despite his dubious fashions and other frustrating qualities.
I think that, throughout this case, you see the very talented policeman that he is and the kind of 'renaissance' he's undergoing. Once the trail is opened up again, you really see him taking to it – and he flies.
:: Stay Close is available on Netflix from today