Mark Easterbrook chats about his role in 'The Pale Horse'
"The Pale Horse", the latest Agatha Christie TV adaptation will screen on BBC First from Sunday, June 7.
The show, set in London in 1961, stars Mark Easterbrook, who plays Rufus Sewell, a rich, successful and popular man who struggles with the loss of his first wife, even though he is now married to the beautiful Hermia (Kaya Scodelario). Things start to fall apart when Hermia finds Mark's name on a piece of paper in a dead woman’s shoe.
"Mark comes from a very comfortable background. He works in high-end antiques and has his own, very large store in a smart part of town. He likes flash motorcars and is a society person and is relatively well known. He has a certain confidence about him, which carries him quite far. He got married quickly to a very young and beautiful woman. To all intents and purposes he is someone who makes his life look good from the outside, but on the inside it’s a different story. He has a side to him that you wouldn't necessarily spot," said Easterbrook about his character.
He said the script, which is filled with shivery, paranoia and superstition has a viciousness to it, which was why he was drawn to it.
"It has a dry, witty nastiness with a surprisingly dark turn which appealed to me. It’s a little bit indistinct. You may think that it’s one thing, and it may or it may not turn out like that. I was really surprised by where it went. I’ve always loved watching Agatha Christies and I’d never made one, so I was delighted to have the script sent to me," he said.
Set against the backdrop of the Eichmann Trial, the escalation of the Cold War and Vietnam, he said playing this period in England was new to him.
"It feels like a different world. It’s an exciting period to explore with great suits! It’s interesting for me because I come from a very different background to Mark and I really enjoyed slipping into that. I often find myself playing characters like this when the truth is so very different," he said.
Unlike the usual whodunit storyline, which is what Agatha Christie was famous for, Easterbrook said this story is like reading something that's a cross between "An Education", "The Wicker Man" and "Jacob’s Ladder".
"There’s an element to this story that is really quite surprising. It reminded me of a phrase Hitchcock once made about one of his film scripts: "It’s a nice, nasty little piece". It's a story of love gone wrong, guilt and grief. It’s about what we’re capable of when we’re desperate and what we believe when all the lights go out and we’re alone in the dark," said Easterbrook.
He said viewers should watch as the show appears to do everything it says on the tin, but at a look closer it is breaking the mould.
"It’s set in hip London of the early 1960s which I don’t think audiences ever really associate with this genre or Agatha Christie, so it’s familiar yet strange. What I’ve always loved about Agatha Christie is the misfits she writes; she creates these wonderful, central characters who are both odd and so wonderful," Easterbrook said.
* Catch "The Pale Horse" on BBC First, Sundays from June 7 at 8pm.