Ripper Street: Interview with TV Choice

Thanks to Jane, who has found a lovely interview with the cast of Ripper Street. Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg were asked questions about their characters and Ripper Street. 

You can read the full interview HERE.

Ripper Street follows three crime-fighters in the months after Jack the Ripper’s last killing. Beginning in April 1889, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), Sergeant Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn) and forensics expert Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) are dealing with the aftermath of the notorious psychopath’s reign of terror. The three stars tell TV Choice more about the eight-part series…


Dramas about Jack the Ripper have been on TV before, so what attracted you to this? What was different?

Matthew Macfadyen: The writing — usually, it’s the writing — but it’s not about Jack the Ripper.

Adam Rothenberg: That’s a backdrop.

Jerome Flynn: It’s the world that writer Richard Warlow paints. It’s a very rich world. It’s not just an episodic, where we have a crime and then solve it. Yes, that happens, but the characters are the strong elements that run through.

Matthew Macfadyen: They’re big characters. There’s a sort of brio, or swagger about the way he’s set them out, which appealed.


What’s the friendship like between the characters?

Adam Rothenberg: My character gets almost caught by them — he’s dragged into this. At first, it’s like a grudging relationship.

Matthew Macfadyen: I grab Jackson because of his forensic skill, and they’re back in the day, before they had the science to solve crimes. So I latch on to his brains — he’s exceptionally clever.  

Adam Rothenberg: That’s not all I’ve got going for me. Homer is a sort of catch-all for every kind of romantic idea of an American back then. He’s a very extreme character. He’s very Wild West. But there’s almost a Fifties film noir quality about him.

Matthew Macfadyen: He’s almost like a private eye.

Jerome Flynn: That creates a nice dynamic with my character, Drake. Because Jackson is very much out of his suit and free, whereas Drake’s very buttoned up. He’s got a wounded past and he’s trying to make himself a better man, and be a gentleman. But he’s jealous of Jackson, because he takes Reid’s attention. Reid obviously has a thing going with him, and enjoys his company, and bounces off him. Intellectually, Drake doesn’t do it for him.

Matthew Macfadyen: It is a triumvirate. It feels like an old-fashioned Western triumvirate. There’s a strength and sincerity about Drake and then you’ve got a mercurial free-spirit in Jackson and then I’m the policeman, and the one who drives things forward. 


What are the affects of the Ripper’s killings?

Jerome Flynn: There’s a huge pressure still to find him.

Matthew Macfadyen: That partly comes from the press. There’s a character called Fred Best [played by David Dawson], who writes for a tabloid called the Daily Star. And that also actually happened. There was a huge pressure then, and a man called John Pizer was falsely accused.


Why are we still interested in Jack the Ripper, or his era?

Jerome Flynn: We’re fascinated by our history — you can almost touch it. We’re living with the same cobbles and the same buildings. But the fact we never caught him, that’s reverberated. It’s in our culture — the most notorious killer was never caught.


Has filming in Ireland, and being away from your families, helped you bond?

Matthew Macfadyen: Yeah, inevitably. Although it’s hard to work with people who are drunk all the time. [laughs]


Have there been many pints of Guinness drunk?

Matthew Macfadyen: There’s been a few.

Jerome Flynn: But it’s been quite controlled, I think.

Matthew Macfadyen: For me, it’s been nice to be away. My family are back in London. But it’s been lovely shooting in Dublin, because it feels very contained. So it’s not like shooting in London, where you spend your whole life in the car and it’s very disparate. Here, we’re never more than 20 minutes away from a location, so it’s great. The crew has also been fantastic.


BBC1, Sunday

David Collins