Luke Treadaway Interview: ‘Fortitude,’ ‘Unbroken,’ and ‘The Hollow Crown’

Luke Treadaway Interview on Fortitude and Unbroken
Luke Treadaway stars in ‘Fortitude’ (Photo Courtesy of Pivot TV)

Luke Treadaway stars alongside Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, Richard Dormer, Christopher Eccleston, and Sienna Guillory in the dramatic series Fortitude premiering on Pivot TV on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 10pm ET/PT. The cast of the series took part in the 2015 TCA winter press event in Los Angeles, and in addition to participating in a press conference to promote the show, Treadaway sat down for a one-on-one with me to discuss the thriller set in Iceland.

The Plot: “Fortitude is a place like nowhere else. Although surrounded by the savage beauty of the Arctic landscape, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now.

In such a close-knit community a murder touches everyone and the unsettling horror of this crime threatens the future of the town itself.

Sheriff Dan Anderssen is the local Head of Police. Dan leads a world class search and rescue team but now finds himself investigating the brutal and shocking murder of a British research scientist. And he is forced to work alongside DCI Milton Caldwell, a British detective who’s just flown into Fortitude. As the search for the killer proceeds and the list of suspects grows, each cop finds compelling reasons to mistrust the other.

And as the endless summer nights give way once more to the Arctic darkness this apparently idyllic community struggles to make sense of the murderous terror that’s been let loose in its heart.”

Interview with Luke Treadaway:

How did this show come to you? Did you audition for it?

Luke Treadaway: “I did. I went to who wrote this script which I thought was standout from everything. It’s such a unique and original vision of a place. The characters and the world of the show was just so complete and such a really interesting idea, I thought. I went along and met Sam [Miller], the director and producers and had an audition and got it.”

What appealed to you about Fortitude?

Luke Treadaway: “I think having read the script and it was a really fantastic script, and then hearing who else was going to be involved. The opportunity to work with such an incredible international cast of people that you know, and some actors that you’ve known all your life and looked up to. I found it incredible seeing Stanley [Tucci’s] face and Michael [Gambon’s] face on that board. What an honor to work with them. It’s like being picked for Manchester United to play on such an incredible team of people. And then obviously there’s a lot of younger cast as well, people you’ve seen in great stuff. I think everyone felt incredibly excited and honored to be a part of it.”

How long is your character going to be a suspect?

Luke Treadaway: “You’ve seen the first two, yes? I think by that point they’re starting to have inclinations that it could be… I think actually within the first opening double-billed, I think there’s already an inclination that it’s not him but they’re not prepared to release him until they find another suspect. I think that’s right. They’re starting to looking pretty quickly. I mean Vincent gets interviewed and I think it’s pretty clear straight away that he’s not behind this gruesome murder so they start looking elsewhere but I’m kept in custody for awhile.”

Is he aware of how deep he’s in?

Luke Treadaway: “I think pretty much, yeah. Let’s put it this way, he feels pretty deep in it straight-away and it’s a terrifying thing to have arrived in a new country where you don’t know the people. You don’t know the systems of how they work and you’re instantly taken to a prison cell and not given a phone call to a lawyer. I would personally find that probably one of the most scary things to happen to me, so, yeah Vincent’s terrified.”

As an actor, you must have a lot of crime shows coming your way. Did this seem different right away?

Luke Treadaway: “Yeah, I think it starts in that very much in that way. It’s a thriller and you have this murder that’s happened. There’s definitely an element of a crime being committed and then therefore police being involved. But already off the bat it’s such a different setup because you’ve got the police force who’ve never investigated a crime before. When the murder happens, they don’t know where the white suits are. They’re trying to find where the guns are kept. You’re already starting on a different way. I think if you’re sensing in the first who is the menace, unease, and intrigue and confusion of where it’s quite going to go, I think that people will be satisfied with the twists and turns and directions.

I think it goes from starting out as a thriller and centered around a crime to then the secrets of the town and the people that are unlocked by the investigation that’s going on. There’s a sort of environmental aspect to it, that kind of ecological mystery that is so incredibly dark and unsuspecting that you don’t see it coming in any way. I think that would really shock people and push their boundaries of what they find comfortable to watch. That’s a good thing.”

How cold is it actually where you’re shooting?

Luke Treadaway: “It was like zero to minus ten maybe at times, I think. Most of the characters most of the time had appropriate weather gear for what they were shooting. We weren’t having to do the thing where you’re shooting a scene on the beach and pretending like it’s warm, but it is really freezing. Most of the time we were well dressed for it so it was okay.”

How many episodes is the series Fortitude?

Luke Treadaway: “12.”

Have you ever done a project that long before? Have you been to other series?

Luke Treadaway: “No, I haven’t. It was a first. It’s really interesting to be able to play someone over such a long period of time and to get to really invest in a character in the world, and to be surprised each time a new script came out. You didn’t know where it was going so that was new experience and really exciting.”

Is Fortitude the first thing you’ve done that’s so mysterious that it’s hard to talk about?

Luke Treadaway: “Yeah, I’ve never had to do interviews where I’m careful about giving stuff away so much. I suppose there is an element of evasion with any project. You want the audience to feel the same things that you had when you first read a script and you have a shock. As much as you want to give people enough to excite them and interest them, enough they’re going to watch it, you don’t want to take away the pleasure of the excitement of finding things out as it goes along. Yeah, I want to make sure that we preserve that element of surprise, definitely.”

What did you learn from working with Stanley Tucci?

Luke Treadaway: “He’s just a beautiful human being – gentle and kind and generous and hilarious. As an actor, just very free and open to finding the scene on the day. I think he’s a really wonderful actor to work with.”

Was there a detailed backstory for Vincent available to you?

Luke Treadaway: “There wasn’t a huge amount. There’s wasn’t a sort of entire biography there for me. I sort of had to do that myself and that’s part of the preparation for it. I just had to go away and concoct a version of events that have led up to Vincent arriving in Fortitude, and it was that was open to interpretation I suppose.

As the series went along, there would be other things that you find out that maybe could’ve clashed or could have complemented that in different ways and that you just have to work with that, really. It’s different to them. It’s different in seeing the play in one piece or the film in one piece and knowing exactly what’s going to happen. It calls for a slight flexibility maybe in your knowledge and understanding of the character, but that’s exciting.”

Where did you decide he’d come from before?

Luke Treadaway: “He’s a scientist. He’s come out there to study the effects of the chemicals in the sea and in the arctic ice that are causing dramatic changes in behavior of the polar bears. He’s come out to study with Christopher Eccleston’s character. It’s like going to the surface of the moon, really. To be able to go and study in a place where there there is permafrost and there’s the ability to unlock mysteries from 10,000 years ago because of the way they’re been preserved in the ice. It’s very exciting for the scientists. He’s decided to go out there and he’s a very adventurous spirit, I suppose, to go and choose to take yourself off to a remote, bleak arctic town and to research there when you could be sitting in London and doing stuff there.”

Do you go back as far as to figure out where he’s done his schooling and how he got into science?

Luke Treadaway: “Yeah, I came up with a version of events that filled him out as a person for me so I knew what was happening and how much of that is sort of revealed in the show…for me, you need to have those thoughts for your private consumption, really. We’ll see. We’ll see more probably it will come out about him in the second series as well about his background.”

Where was Fortitude shot?

Luke Treadaway: “It was shot in Iceland and London.”

Iceland? Have you ever been before?

Luke Treadaway: “Not before, no. I’m privileged to have, I think, nine or ten weeks in all over the course of the shoot going out there. I can only speak highly of the place. It’s a beautiful place, beautiful people, and I thoroughly recommend everyone going.”

What was the nightlife like in Iceland?

Luke Treadaway: “The nightlife in Iceland is interesting. For half of the shoot, it was nighttime the whole time. It was dark for the first three months when we’d go out there, it’d be dark the whole time. We had our own nightlife which was the whole cast being able to – really lovely – being able to stay in the same hotel and have dinner together each night. Being able to socialize together was really lovely because often if you’re working from home, then obviously most people will be going home at the end of the night. It was really nice to be able to hang out together.”

So you got to hang out with people you didn’t necessarily get to have scenes with?

Luke Treadaway: “Exactly. So, take someone like Micheal for instance who I think I only shared maybe one scene with him, possibly. We had the unbridled joy of sitting down with a cup of tea in a morning and hearing his story of auditioning for Laurence Olivier in 1954 for the National Theater Company. I think that’s the right day, I’m not sure. It’s absolutely gold, brilliant.”

Have you shot any other films before since Fortitude that are still to come out?

Luke Treadaway: “Since Fortitude? Wait, hang on, let me get my dates in order. Unbroken has just come out, that’s still on, that’s around, that’s out. Since Fortitude, I’ve shot of The Hollow Crown which is I think two of them, then we shot with Tom Hiddleston where they did Henry IV, I think. And I’ve just done Richard III playing the Earl of Richmond opposite Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III. We shot that a couple of months ago, I think. So, that was great. I had to learn to ride a horse and then learn to ride a horse in medieval armor with a sword and to charge into the Battle of Bosworth and fight with Benedict – so it’s very fun, yeah.”

As an actor, do you have a passion for Shakespeare?

Luke Treadaway: “When I see it, I sometimes feel passionate about it in a positive way. Sometimes I feel like it’s a really hard to tell plays that everyone has seen before a million times or knows, often knows, and to tell it in an exciting, original way and to give people the experience that they have when they’re watching a new play. I think it’s a real challenge as actors, as directors, in every part of the puzzle. When it’s done well, it can be beautiful and he is obviously, I don’t need to say this, it’s an amazing series and come out as really special. I think the Richard III that we filmed I think will be really wonderful with Benedict at the heart of it. I look forward to seeing it.”

Did you get a chance to meet Louis Zamperini before he passed?

Luke Treadaway: “I didn’t unfortunately, no. I wish I had. I feel like I got a sense of the spirit of a man from talking to people who had met him and from reading the book. I could tell from experiencing what it would have been like to been a man in those prisoner of war camps with my character through that story.”

Were you based on a real person who was with Zamperini?

Luke Treadaway: “I think I was actually the only one who was sort of slight combination of two different officers that were there at time. Again, it was a situation which was an interpretation of it and being able to invent my own backstory, I suppose.”

– By Fred Topel

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