Joseph Mawle Talks The Tunnel

Sky 1’s bilingual thriller The Tunnel, an Anglo-French adaptation of Scandinavian crime drama The Bridge, has proved to be as dark and rich as the original. Starring Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones), Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter), Angel Coulby (Merlin), and Keeley Hawes (Ashes to Ashes) to name just a few, and written by Ben Richards, the show follows the investigation to find a terrifying killer whose tableau murder scene in the Channel Tunnel touches people’s lives from all walks of society.

To celebrate the show’s DVD release next week, actor Joseph Mawle (Red Riding, Ripper Street, Game of Thrones) sat down with Flicks And The City to talk about the phenomenon of Nordic noir, his complex character, what makes The Tunnel unique, and some upcoming projects!

On the show: “[The show]’s really about a social, political, and welfare climate, and the rights and wrongs within that. It’s essentially a noir thriller – almost Hitchcockian – across ten episodes.”

The TunnelThis style of Nordic noir is of course a huge phenomenon in the UK and abroad, inspiring adaptations in various cultures: “Absolutely, European cinema is wonderfully infiltrating and influencing some of the work we do here and making [the scope] wider, and I think it works brilliantly between the UK and France. The communication between places – in both good and difficult ways – and the language barrier that needs to be overcome means so many interesting relationships come from it. It’s a bilingual show – which is really important – but the lovely thing about it is that it works both sides [of the Channel]. The French viewers get the English dialogue subtitled, and the English viewers get the French dialogue subtitled – and it sort of adds to a shadow, a mystery, in the piece. It really draws out the sense of not knowing what is really going on or who is doing what and adds to the mystery about these people living on the edge of society. At least that’s the plan!”

The talent behind the scenes was also a draw for Joseph: “I love the director Dominik Moll – who has a really cinematic view of television. And Ruth Kenley-Letts, our producer, has done such wonderful work over the years. So I was really excited to explore this story with both of them.”

On his character, Stephen: “The whole script [drew me to the project]. I liked not knowing whose side I was on. And that there wasn’t too much dialogue, in a funny way, meant there was more to explore and I really enjoy that aspect of filmmaking. It can be about having a blank canvas and filling it with ideas, some of which work and some inevitably don’t – but that’s part of the fun. He’s such a dark, complicated, confused thinker.”

“What I love about these sorts of stories is that there’s no one really, really bad, and no one truly good – the lines are blurred. So you get a character like Stephen, who really thinks he’s doing something good, but to an THE TUNNELoutside eye his actions are despicable. And he doesn’t necessarily become aware of that until much later on, so he’s one of those characters that are discovering their identity or not even knowing who they are exactly and that’s exciting. And I got to discover more about him as we filmed.”

On working with the ensemble cast: “Clémence and Stephen are really individual thinkers and they will delve inside the story to see what else is there. Keeley’s a bit of an angel. A really wonderful person. Like me, she loved exploring things. We found our places, individually and together. There was a lot of collaborative work [on this project] and I enjoyed all of that. Although filming in the wet and cold was a bit bleak!”

On upcoming projects: “There’s a film out this year called Half Of A Yellow Sun. Also I’ve just finished filming In The Heart of The Sea – directed by Ron Howard – in the Canary Islands, based on the true story of the Nantucket whalers [that inspired Herman Melville’s work], but that won’t be out for a while yet!”

You can catch Joseph starring in The Tunnel when it’s released on DVD and Blu-Ray on January 13!