'London Kills': Hugo Speer talks about the complex mind of his character David Bradford and taking on the role "experientially"

British actor Hugo Speer, shines as the exceptionally private and undeniably complicated lead detective David Bradford, he spoke to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW)


                            'London Kills': Hugo Speer talks about the complex mind of his character David Bradford and taking on the role "experientially"

Acorn TV's latest original 'London Kills' is just a week away from release and this is the perfect time to evaluate just why this show might be a new beacon of hope for fans of murder mysteries. Of course, superficially the plot isn't very different from regular detective shows such as the highly popular 'Castle' and the extremely riveting 'True Detective' or 'Criminal Minds', but what sets 'London Kills' apart is the impeccable cast and the sheer crisp and articulate execution of a murder mystery drama. And in all of that, British actor Hugo Speer, shines as the exceptionally private and undeniably complicated lead detective David Bradford. 

Hugo Speer as David Bradford on London Kills. Source: Acorn TV
Hugo Speer as David Bradford on London Kills. Source: Acorn TV

The thing about Bradford is that despite being an ace at solving crimes, the one mystery he hasn't been able to solve in the last three months is his wife's disappearance. And as the show meanders through a new murder each episode of its first season, Speer's excellence at cracking complex characters on screen for a joyride to the viewers comes out brilliantly.

Speaking to MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Speer let us in on the intricate workings of his character's mind, and tit-bits about his dynamics with his coworkers and what his story entails in the next season. Here are some excerpts of his conversation with us:

What has playing David Bradford been like?
Good! He's a complex character, and as an actor, it's always great to get into someone who is well written and three-dimensional - as is often the case with detectives. He has a sort of troubled private life too, so it's been good. I've loved working with my co-stars, and it's always lovely to have good people to bounce off. So, it's been a very pleasurable experience obviously, but also because we shot it all so quickly. We were sort of reading 13-12 pages a day, as opposed to the usual two or three. So, we rehearsed and used three handheld cameras, and as much natural light as we could.

Without time-consuming lighting setups and such, it was a lot quicker than I'm used to! But I enjoy it because your energy stays up from the get-go. Definitely, by the end of the day, you're tired, but you're satisfied for the day as it's a good day's work definitely.

Like you mentioned - Bradford is a very complex character. Were you able to relate to him or were there certain parts of him that were challenging to portray on screen?
Certainly, I'm not a simple man myself. But as is with any acting job, there are always unique challenges. This one specifically was with having to deal with the character's wife missing. So, as an actor, I had to pretend that my wife's missing and that in itself is a pretty horrible, horrible feeling. So, you put yourself in that position and take it from there, really.

You take on the condition, the circumstances, and then you throw them away. David is a professional, where he saves all this angst for private moments, but generally speaking, he's supposed to be concentrating on the job - which is a murder investigation.

Since he's such a private person, we couldn't help but notice he seems to be hiding a lot. What do you think is the reason behind his closeted nature?
Maybe that is just the way he is? Apart from the fact that he's a detective. With his colleague Vivienne (Sharon Small) he doesn't want to share any of this private angst and with her, and as for the others, he thinks they are too young for him to feel like they could be his favorites.

'London Kills' shows a darker take on framing the innocent and the radical limits of jealousy. Source: Acorn TV
'London Kills' shows a darker take on framing the innocent and the radical limits of jealousy. Source: Acorn TV

The finale really brought out the dark, twisted nature of the murderers the show is dealing with. Is there a certain method you go about preparing for such tales?
No, not really. I've seen some fairly dark things in my life and also played a police before, so it's just a case of suspending my own disbelief and putting myself in that sort of position. But I think that the longer I'm in this profession, I would say the easier it is to do it more naturally. I am able to sort of take on characters and imagine situations experientially, but it's just part and parcel of the job.

And what would you say drew you to 'London Kills? Especially your character, David Bradford...
I've been doing a regular radio drama on BBC Radio 4, for the last 10 years. It's called 'Stone', and I play detective chief inspector Stone, and I always thought - because of its big following - that it would be nice to just have a good regular show where I was the leading detective. To have a job that I just knew I'm a regular at, and enjoyed doing, and was familiar with. And then suddenly as I was pitching the show for television, 'London Kills' came along.

It seemed pretty much exactly what I was looking for, and even more so, because Stone was set in Manchester, and I live in North London. So, with 'London Kills', it was almost like 'Stone', but in London. It was like a cosmic blessing because I was able to go to work and be at home too. It's also well written, and well-plotted. It just kind of ticked all boxes as far as far my prerequisites for taking work!

'London Kills' premiered this Monday, February 25, on Acorn TV, and is available for streaming. The official synopsis of the show describes it thus: "Following the detectives of an elite murder investigation squad in London. The team is led by the experienced Detective Inspector David Bradford, whose wife has been missing for the past three months: A case he has been unable to solve."