Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù on James Bond rumours: ‘It’s the pinnacle of action roles’

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With the release of No Time to Die, Daniel Craig has played James Bond for the last time – and now everyone is wondering who his successor as 007 might be.

Asked whether he’d be interested in the role, Gangs of London star Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù smiles – it’s clearly not the first time the idea has been put to him. (At time of writing, Dìrísù is currently 16/1 odds to star as the secret agent next.)

“That question is going around a lot more recently, because No Time to Die has just come out,” he said while promoting new film Mothering Sunday. “[It] is an excellent film, I was really fortunate to get to go to the premiere of it, it was such a grand occasion.

“I really enjoy the rough and tumble of action sequences, and I try to do all of my own stunts. I think that the role of James Bond – wow – is the pinnacle of those things, you know?”

And, finally, part three! I asked Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù how he feels about being attached to James Bond, as well as any other roles/genres he’d like to play across his career. (He quite wants to do a sci-fi, which would be neat.)

I’ll be interested to see if he does end up playing Bond – I definitely got the sense that he knew more than he was telling me, he’d clearly met Barbara Broccoli before. We shall see…!

You can find more of my interviews here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed reading this piece – or if you didn’t – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù on making Gangs of London Series 2 during the pandemic

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Production on Gangs of London season two – the follow-up to Sky Atlantic’s biggest ever original drama launch – is currently underway, with the crime drama due to return in 2022. Filming the ambitious second series has proven logistically complicated, however, because of the safety precautions needed to film during the ongoing pandemic. (Earlier this year, production halted on the Sky drama for 10 days after a crew member tested positive for coronavirus.)

How has star Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù found it, making the series under such challenging circumstances?

“It was fantastic to be back at work,” said Dìrísù while promoting new film Mothering Sunday. “And also to have the attitude that we were going to overcome this and create something beautiful.”

“I don’t think we would have been able to start the second season of Gangs of London when we were shooting Mothering Sunday,” he explained. “There was too much that we needed to do in terms of distancing that we couldn’t have a massive [production].”

Part two! Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù told me all about the particular demands of shooting an action-heavy show like Gangs of London during the ongoing pandemic – certainly sounds like quite a logistical headache. Feels like something that’d be interesting to look into more, not just on Gangs of London but television in general. Hmm.

You can find more of my interviews here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed reading this piece – or if you didn’t – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

Colin Baker on Big Finish, Jodie Whittaker, and who should play the next Doctor

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The world of Doctor Who is anticipating a big change: it won’t be long until Jodie Whittaker embarks on her final series as the Doctor, soon to regenerate into the fourteenth (ish) actor to play the Time Lord. Has Baker been following her performance?

“I’ve seen enough to know that I thoroughly approve,” he enthuses. “I love something that she has brought, that I’ve never seen in a Doctor before, which is joy: the joy of being the Doctor. I suppose joy isn’t a particularly manly attribute. Usually, smugness is more what men go for, rather than joy!”

“Those initial episodes, where she was finding out who she was and making a sonic screwdriver? All those moments, I actually loved it. I’m looking forward to having the chance to sit and watch all the other stories! I love the way it was going. And I’m sure she will have a thumping good exit, I’m looking forward to seeing that as well.”

New interview! I spoke to Colin Baker – the Sixth Doctor! – about his latest Big Finish adventures, his thoughts on Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and who should replace her, and more.

Really enjoyed doing this one – obviously always exciting to talk to a Doctor Who, and it made for a nice debut piece over at Digital Spy too.

You can find more of my writing about Doctor Who here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed reading this review – or if you didn’t – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

Segun Akinola on scoring Doctor Who, composing music during lockdown, and more

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Series 11 was all about having its own sound. It’s a completely different sound and a very different approach. It’s moving around musically, but also there is a series sound to it. With Series 12, it was not about changing the overall direction, but making sure that just as the story was developing and the characters were developing, the music was also developing. You could look back on Series 11 and hear something and think “That’s Series 11, not Series 12”, but [the new music] doesn’t sound out of place or like the direction is completely changed.

Here’s my interview with Segun Akinola, Doctor Who‘s current MVP – even as I’ve been frustrated with other aspects of the show, I’m never not impressed by his music. Some of the most memorable moments of Series 12 are down to his score, to my mind: his James Bond-esque motif does a lot of heavy lifting for Spyfall, the score for Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror is brilliant from start to finish, and I did really love that arrangement of the theme tune in The Timeless Children

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Composer Jeff Russo on scoring Star Trek: Picard, Noah Hawley’s Star Trek movie, and more

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From an instrumental point of view, I wanted to connect it to our previous stories. So, the use of the flute at the beginning and in the end is inspired by Jean-Luc Picard playing the Ressikan flute in The Inner Light. That’s really the only true connection to a musical instrument in the show that I can remember in The Next Generation – other than Riker playing a trombone! It was like, “Let’s not use a trombone. We don’t need to use a trombone.” For one thing, it’s not Star Trek: Riker, and it’s not Riker’s story, so it didn’t strike me as something that would be meaningful. The flute seemed really meaningful to how Picard’s life had progressed.

A recent conversation with Jeff Russo, who was both very nice and very enthusiastic about Star Trek. Lots of interesting, thoughtful comments about how you approach the score for something like Picard – and, actually, how that’s subtly but significantly different from how you approach the score for Discovery. (Which, thinking about it, would probably have been a better thing to reference in the title there – my typically suppressed clickbait instincts got the better of me this time.)

Incidentally, this very nice picture of Jeff is one I borrowed from his website, and in turn which he took from Scoring Sessions, a website I’ve only just now come across but is clearly a phenomenal resource. I think the original photo credit, in this case, goes to Dan Goldwasser, the Editor-in-Chief of Scoring Sessions.

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William Shaw on The Rings of Akhaten, the surprising similarities between Neil Cross & Chris Chibnall, and more (Part Two)

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Probably my favourite thing about Chibnall’s Doctor Who [is] that we seem to be moving away from the rigid atheism of a lot of the show’s history. I think some of it is a continuation of trends from the Moffat era. Davies was at times very influenced by New Atheism, and there’s a real softening of that through Moffat and then Chibnall. The Thirteenth Doctor has clearly learned the lessons the Eleventh Doctor doesn’t quite get in The Rings of Akhaten; that religion is more complicated than just this evil parasite that poisons society. I feel very lucky to be releasing the book now, because there’s a really interesting conversation developing about these topics.

Some more thoughtful comments from William Shaw today! Unsurprisingly, they’re still largely about Doctor Who, but we move a little further afield from The Rings of Akhaten today – take a look at Will’s thoughts on Series 12 and its depiction of faith, a ‘what if?’ scenario where Neil Cross took over from Steven Moffat instead of Chris Chibnall, and more.

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Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx on Just Mercy, coping during an emotionally intense filming process, and more

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Having that resource there – a real person that’s actually there, that I can call on and text and be able to ask for help [if I was feeling] lost or confused about anything, somebody that I could really lean on throughout this process to make sure we got it right? I think that was really, really important. [Bryan Stevenson] was involved with the script development, he was along for the entire process – I feel like it was a huge benefit, having Brian around.

This one was very exciting! I spoke to Michael B Jordan and Jamie Foxx about Just Mercy, their legal drama based on a true story. It’s a great film, definitely worth a watch, and it was great to talk to them too. Both very polite, which is always nice.

Busy week for me, actually, this stretch in the middle of January. Three of my most high-profile interviews, all squeezed into a fairly short space of time. Not bad! Not bad at all.

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Michael Chabon, Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman and Kirsten Beyer on Star Trek: Picard, what it means to treat Star Trek as a franchise, and more

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Between the four of them, Michael Chabon, Alex Kurtzman, Akiva Goldsman and Kirsten Beyer have written a lot of Star Trek: novels, comic books, films, and, of course, television. The series isn’t just that anymore – over fifty years after the original Star Trek was quietly moved to Friday nights and eventually cancelled, it’s now the jewel in the crown of CBS All Access, and a major international acquisition for Amazon Prime. That little television show has grown into an empire.

Or, put another way, it’s a franchise.

“It’s interesting this word ‘franchise’, right?” muses Kurtzman. “Because it feels like a very – Michael used an excellent word the other day – a very mercantile term, where everything is about ‘okay, we can sell this and we can sell that’. But I actually don’t think that’s what it’s about for any of us. I think that’s someone else’s job. Our job is to create great stories and figure out how to use all these different mediums to tell them in interesting ways.”

I’m really, really pleased with this one, actually – it is, I think, my favourite of the four Star Trek: Picard interviews I’ve done this week. Certainly, I think it’s the most insightful and most worthwhile as a piece of writing on its own terms – I’m particularly proud of what I was able to build out of the roundtable interview here.

Take a look!

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Isa Briones and Jonathan Del Arco on Star Trek: Picard, their characters Dahj and Hugh, and more

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As Isa says, though, it’s not every day you become part of something already so well-established. But with that must come some sort of trepidation – especially so early in her career, knowing this might well become her defining role?

“When you haven’t done much you will take any role that’s given to you,” laughs Isa Briones. “But I also didn’t know what this role was going to be. I was just auditioning and I was told it was Star Trek. I wasn’t really told that she was going to be this involved until the last call back. It really was a lesson, like, you’d never know how life is going to turn out and timing is everything… I always just cite my father. My father has been in the business a while, working his ass off for so long, but he finally started getting known at 50 years old. Now this is happening for me at 20, so anything is possible at any time. You roll with the punches, you take what comes your way.”

“She’s also an incredibly confident actor and performer, a great singer as well,” says Jonathan Del Arco, praising his co-star. “You always seem incredibly competent to me, from the day I met you. I think you were born for the part.”

The third of four Star Trek interviews! Isa Briones and Jonathan Del Arco were both absolutely wonderful – really just genuinely quite fun to be around.

Interviewing Isa in particular was a little bit of an odd experience, because it was the first time I’ve ever been older than the person I was interviewing. Which obviously is not actually that significant, but it threw me for a loop a little bit.

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Michelle Hurd, Harry Treadaway and Evan Evagora on Star Trek: Picard, working with Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes, and more

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“I’m just trying to work out whether I’m allowed to say what I think I’m allowed to say,” paused Harry Treadaway.

We’ve asked the assembled actors if they can tell us a little bit about their characters. So far, the answer has mostly been yes: Michelle Hurd explained that her character, Raffi, “has a very complicated relationship with the Federation. Very strained. She worked with Picard back in the day after Next Generation, and they had a bit of a falling out”. Evan Evagora, meanwhile, described his character Elnor as “a young Romulan boy who’s an expert in hand to hand combat. He’s pretty good with a sword as well, and he was raised in an all-female sect of warrior nuns”. Elnor is an orphan and a refugee; Raffi is haunted by decisions she’s made in the past, both of their lives changed radically by the destruction of Romulus.

But Harry Treadaway is having a slightly harder time telling us anything at all about his character. The three of them confer for a moment, whispering to each other so we can’t hear.

The second of four Star Trek: Picard themed interviews – this time with new cast members Michelle Hurd, Harry Treadaway and Evan Evagora!

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