The Version interview... Daniel Mays on Line of Duty Series 3.
Line Of Duty returns to BBC Two soon, and pits AC-12 against their most dangerous adversary yet.
Series three opens with the fatal shooting of a criminal suspect by an armed response unit led by Sergeant Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays).
Danny and his team claim they acted in self-defence, but AC-12, led by Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), gather evidence that suggests that this was a deliberate killing. Under interview, Danny confidently rebuts all of AC-12’s accusations that he acted unlawfully, so DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) is sent undercover into Danny’s team to find out more.
Ingratiating herself to her new colleagues, Kate is quick to identify tensions and conflict between Danny and his team. But when Kate’s own conduct comes under scrutiny, she finds herself sidelined from an armed drugs raid that goes very badly wrong.
Daniel Mays tells us more...
Tell us about Sergeant Danny Waldron as a character?
He’s a member of an armed response unit and is the new protagonist of the show. He is a very complex character. On the surface of things he’s incredibly driven and ambitious, great at his job and rules his team with an iron fist. Then you see him in the pub trying to chat up a girl and he’s really vulnerable, so the polar opposite to how he is in job mode. There are many different layers to him and he’s got a lot of issues that he’s dealing with. An incident happens in the first episode where he’s put under investigation, and as the story unfolds we realise the inner workings of his character and what is motivating him to do these dangerous and unpredictable things. It’s exciting to bring to life a character that is a great contradiction.
What is his relationship with his colleagues?
It’s strained to say the least. Before the first episode begins its hinted at that he’s quite unpredictable on call-outs. He’s a loose cannon and being the leader, his team have to follow suit. They’re caught between a rock and a hard place. It’s also hinted at that Danny might have had a relationship with Jackie (Leanne Best) which has caused friction with Rod (Will Mellor) and within the team, but being in an armed response unit they have to completely and utterly depend on each other in very dangerous scenarios.
How does he feel about the AC-12 investigation?
The incident that happens throws his whole life into turmoil and his inner demons come out that he thought he had buried. But he is so brilliantly professional at work that he can handle whatever is thrown at him, for example in the interrogation room, and takes it all in his stride. He is so astute about the inner workings of the police force that he can bat any question away.
What attracted you to the role?
I was a massive fan of the first two series and watching Keeley Hawes and Lenny James’ performances, and the show in general, made me quickly realise that Jed Mercurio’s writing demands a huge amount from its lead actor and that’s what appealed to me. Then when they showed me the actual scripts I was blown away. The quality of Jed’s writing is so brilliantly detailed and has its grounding in absolute social reality, which is a great combination. I recognised it was a great opportunity to be part of the long running success of Line Of Duty and its certainly one the most complex and exciting characters I’ve taken on in a long time.
What challenges did you face?
Without question the interrogation scene in episode one is the hardest passage of dialogue I’ve ever had to learn, bar none, but it was one of the most thrilling days filming I’ve ever been a part of. Running and chasing suspects wearing all that gear was also a challenge. We went on weapons training for a couple of days which was really beneficial and also allowed the new group of actors to bond. It’s a great credit to the opening episode that we all look comfortable in the gear and believable as an armed response unit. Another challenge was trying to get into the mind-set of a character so damaged, twisted and unpredictable.
What was it like filming with the rest of the cast?
I’d never worked with any of the new actors before so it was great to forge new relationships with them. I’m an ex-flatmate of Craig Parkinson’s so he’s a very close friend of mine and we’ve always been desperate to work together. We had some fun in between takes as you can’t always be as serious as you are being on camera. I was also a huge fan of Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar and they welcomed us all with open arms.
What can viewers expect from this series of Line Of Duty?
Having spoken to the existing cast they were all unanimous that this series has raised the bar even further in terms of the quality of the writing and the suspense of the story. It’s another thrilling story with loads of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.