The Version Interview... Jamie Blackley on itv's The Halcyon
Two of the UK’s most acclaimed actors, Steven Mackintosh (Luther, The Sweeney, Inside Men) and Olivia Williams (Anna Karenina, Hyde Park On Hudson, The Sixth Sense) join forces in a brand new ITV drama series, The Halcyon.
The Halcyon tells the story of a bustling and glamorous five star hotel at the centre of London society and a world at war. The eight-part drama series also features Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, Sound Of Music Live), Alex Jennings (The Lady In The Van, The Queen), Matt Ryan (Constantine, Arrow), Hermione Corfield (Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur, Pride and Prejudice And Zombies) and Mark Benton (Eddie The Eagle, Waterloo Road).
The drama, set in 1940, shows London life through the prism of war and the impact it has on families, politics, relationships and work across every social strata with a soundtrack of music from the era. Multi award-winning singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum.
Jamie Blackley tells us more...
What was your reaction when you got the role in The Halcyon?
“I’ve not done a great deal of TV before so the idea of being in people’s living rooms every week just scared the life out of me. But then when they approached me about playing Freddie it was a no-brainer. It was such an interesting part with a brilliant cast. So it was just excitement. But I don’t love watching myself on screen.
Can you tell us about your character Freddie?
“Freddie is the non-identcal twin brother of Toby Hamilton, son of Lord and Lady Hamilton. The family owns the hotel. In the first episodes he gets his RAF wings and becomes a Spizire pilot. So we see his struggles with that but also with his posi:on as heir to both The Halcyon and the Hamilton estate. “There are things his father has got up to that Freddie knows about but doesn’t let his mother know. His mother is quite a force in herself. While there is constant rivalry between the two brothers. As the episodes go on the war changes everything. It makes the bond between the two brothers a lot stronger. Freddie was born four minutes before Toby and those four minutes count for so much. Maybe Toby, in fact, is the lucky one.”
Can you tell us more about Freddie’s relationship with his father?
“Both Freddie and Toby just want to impress their father. We spoke a lot with one of the directors, Stephen Woolfenden, about the masks that have to go on for the two boys, as soon as they are out in the hotel around staff and guests. We have to represent our family in a certain way and that’s something their father instilled in them. There’s a scene in a li\ where the doors open and there are cameras everywhere. There’s not a moment’s rest. I can’t imagine living like that. “I think both sons are preay frightened of their father. But there is a moment in the first episode where Freddie stands up to his father for probably the first :me.”
And what about Freddie and his mother?
“She feels like Freddie hasn’t done enough for her. She wants him to be a son to her and help her. That really hits home later on. He does feel really guilty about what secrets he has kept from his mother.”
Are Freddie and Toby typical brothers?
“They are typical brothers. In one scene they fight in the hotel kitchen. That was a really fun day with all of the equipment everywhere and getting to throw each other around. “It is a real wrestle. They’re both frustrated and guilty and they’re taking it out on each other. The fight was choreographed. It’s like a dance. We had a little. There were pots and pans on the side of the kicthen and we had a points scoring system to see if you could knock off certain pans.
Did you do any research into Spitfire pilots during the Battle of Britain?
Our historical advisor Alastair Bruce said Spitfire pilots were quite cocky. They had to be because it was the only way for them to get through those scary moments in the sky. Freddie would have been scared. If something happens to a friend or someone close to you, it makes that moment more real. I imagine if you’ve done a few flights and it’s gone fine, you almost feel untouchable. But that fear will always come creeping back again. Fear is always there.
What did you make of the huge hotel set?
If you woke up on this set you’d think you were in a real hotel. It’s incredible. It’s so beautiful with lots of liale details. And the way it flows. You can go upstairs and you have the corridors and rooms. The royal suite is really beautiful. It’s like a different world. I’ve nearly fallen asleep on one of the beds. I also love the kitchen. It’s so intricate with all of the equipment.”
Do you have a favourite hotel in the world?
The Bowery in New York. I just love it.
The Halcyon continues 9pm Monday on itv. Catch up via itv hub.