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Who is a director you’ve worked with already and who you’d love to work with again?
I’ve never had the opportunity to work with the same director twice and I would love to. To have already created that trust and that short hand would be such an amazing experience.
As for picking which director that would be tricky, as I would work with most of them again in a heartbeat. Kari Skogland who directed me in the film Fifty Dead Men Walking is someone I’d like to work with again… and we’ve often talked about finding another project together. I thought she did an incredible job with that film. She was a Canadian woman trying to get under the skin of this story about the IRA and she was absolutely fearless. She is a brilliant director and really pushed me in the best possible way. She should be up there with some of the great directors in my opinion. Especially as a woman in the film industry. She was one of the best directors I’ve worked with.
More photos in the gallery
Close to the Enemy is written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, who is a much-revered TV dramatist across the pond thanks to previous shows like 2005’s Emmy-winning The Lost Prince. “The minute I said I was doing a Stephen Poliakoff BBC drama, that’s when people were like, ‘Oh, that’s really exciting!’” says Sturgess. “I was aware of his work, but I didn’t realize the extent of how excited people are that there is a new Poliakoff piece coming to their television screens. I think my Mum and Dad understood what I do for the very first time!”
‘The words we say are exactly the words on the page: in that respect it’s more like a play,’ he says. ‘We had a four-week rehearsal period, which is pretty unheard of in TV.’
He also relished the chance to brush up on his education. ‘I actually don’t know s*** about s*** — I didn’t do so well at school — so it’s great as an actor to find out as much about a different period as you can.’
He may have been a slacker at school but Sturgess is a talented musician — and gets to flex his piano fingers as Callum. ‘He’s a much better player than me, so I was learning and practising as much as I could while we were filming.
‘I love that, in amid the dark characters and the dark events that are happening, there’s a sense of a bubbling creativity. The world is getting ready to wake up.’
Experience has taught him that if he wants other people to feel as passionate about independent cinema as he does, he has to bang the drum the loudest — and social media is the perfect platform. “I like having control over letting people know what I’m doing,” says the 38-year-old, explaining his fondness for posting on Instagram. “You can actually reach an audience and you can cut out the middle man, who usually f**k it up. I’m always burying my head in my hands when I see promotions of certain things, and you’re like, ‘How did they get that so wrong?’”
Due to “shoestring budgets”, the marketing of independent cinema is practically non-existent, he notes. “You’re really struggling to get your film seen,” adds the actor. “I can actually tell people that this film is happening, and if I didn’t put it on [social media], all those people wouldn’t ever know about it.”
The actor admits shooting the series wasn’t without its challenges though. “I’m used to unusual characters and nudity and physically compromising situations,” he confesses. “But we were shooting in the same timeframe as we might do a feature film. So you’ve got seven episodes, but it’s like working on a giant, seven-hour film. I wasn’t expecting that.”
The 38-year-old actor is, however, waiting for the moment his relatively youthful appearance starts to wane, assuming that ever happens. “I may have been lucky until now, but I just know it’s going to fall apart in one quick swoop,” he jokes, acknowledging his ability to play younger characters. “It’s not gonna be an easy decline, mate. I’ll just wake up one morning and it’s all on the floor. I certainly don’t look after myself, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
Lastly, I’m always adding stills to the gallery as we continue with the show.