'The Little Drummer Girl' star Michael Shannon never thought he would play a character like Marty Kurtz
As a mastermind behind an elaborate plan, Kurtz is nothing like the quirky characters Shannon has been playing all along
Michael Shannon never thought he would take up the role of a spy and yet here he is acting as the mastermind behind a plot to bring down a notorious Palestinian terrorist in BBC One's 'The Little Drummer Girl'.
The Park Chan-wook adaptation of John Le Carre's 1983 novel follows the plight of young, aspiring actress Charlie Ross (played by Florence Pugh) lured by an alluring stranger, Becker (played by Alexander Skarsgard), to assist in Mossad's plot to track down the terrorist. Charlie soon finds herself to be a pawn in Mossad agent Marty Kurtz's (played by Shannon) plan to make Charlie play the role of a terrorist's widow.
Shannon, who is chiefly known for his intense, bug-eyed, psychopathic roles, hardly believed he could ever play a spy as multi-layered as Kurtz. As the Israeli spymaster, Kurtz is spearheading the entire operation in which Charlie pretends to be the terrorist, Michel's lover.
As director of this theater Charlie has been thrust into, Kurtz sketches out Charlie's moves and has studied in detail about Michel's whereabouts. Although he supports Charlie in her work, Kurtz's chief intention is to bring down Michel's brother, the notorious terrorist Khalil, and he won't hesitate in sacrificing Charlie for the cause.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly about his role, Shannon explained: "If I thought I could do it then I probably would have been bored. It seemed like a big challenge for me because it’s very far away from my own life experience. I have not done or seen any of the things that Kurtz has done or seen, so it gave me a lot of opportunities to use my imagination and to contemplate some events that I hadn’t really thought so much about before.”
As a man who is intolerant about Palestinian rebels, Kurtz keeps a close eye on Charlie's movements and as a true director, guides her through her every move so that she can be kept away from danger for as long as possible.
Kurtz is a man who is passionate in his ideologies and will go up to any extent to destroy those who may cause harm to Israel. In order to play such a character, whose past is a mystery, Shannon said he contemplated quite a lot in order to fully understand Kurtz.
"I didn’t really go talk to a lot of people about it. I did it mostly myself, just based on reading and private contemplation. With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was always something that I was aware of but I had never really considered it as much as I did working on this show, and that’s a great opportunity and motivation to be aware of things and dig deeper than you might usually do otherwise,” Shannon said.
Kurtz is the one pulling the strings of every character to make them work towards his goal. He has mapped out a precise and comprehensive plan to put an end to the war between Israel and Palestine by destroying the terrorists who are now a matter of national security.
A master storyteller, it does not take him long to convince Charlie to participate in his pretentious fiction, and once Charlie is on board, he prepares her thoroughly for the role, just as a true director would do. However, it's not long before Kurtz finally realizes not all things will go as planned and some improvisation on the actor's part will probably help save the plot.