HE started out as a twisted psychopath in home-grown murder drama Happy Valley – and now James Norton is a dashing Hollywood leading man who is tipped to become the next James Bond.
But the British hunk says he could not be more pleased to return to the multi-award-winning show for its final outing next month because his fans love it so much.
And with a seven-year gap between the forthcoming series and the previous one, which pulled in an audience of almost ten million, viewers’ anticipation is high.
James, who stars opposite Sarah Lancashire in the BBC’s Yorkshire-based crime series, dicho: “It’s such a specific show about a very specific part of England.
“The accents and the temperaments and sensibilities of those characters are quite specific to the area.
“And yet when I go to America, I am amazed at how many people have watched it and how many people love it. People in the street ask me, ‘When is it coming back?"
“And that was a really proud moment, when I realised how it wasn’t only a show loved in the UK but internationally.”
Antes Happy Valley, James had smaller roles in shows such as Doctor Who and Death Comes To Pemberley.
He had dabbled in movies, starring alongside Chris Hemsworth en 2013 Formula 1 drama Rush.
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James, 37, dicho: “I am immensely proud to able to have a part in it.
“To be able to say we have shot a third series and it’s as big and bold as ever is really wonderful.
“It’s particularly exciting because everyone knows it’s the last series so everyone is predicting and guessing how it will end.”
The series centres on police officer Sergeant Catherine Cawood — played by Sarah — her sister Claire, grandson Ryan and her colleagues.
Villainous Tommy is Ryan’s father after an abusive relationship with Catherine’s late daughter.
James dijo: “Catherine has her family and does not want to think about Tommy. He constantly forces his way into her life and her consciousness.
“In that sort of old-fashioned way, they are epic adversaries pitched against each other.
“They are obsessed with each other. There’s a kind of deep, deep hatred in the way that when you think about someone that you hate, they inhabit part of your consciousness.”
The third series begins with Tommy in jail, serving multiple life sentences for rape and abduction.
But James says his character is the same “terrifying mess” as before.
The actor has worked with therapists to get under the villain’s skin — an experience that has changed him for ever.
There is always an absolute rollercoaster of a plot, and many people said in the first series that they would end up watching behind their sofa with their hands over their mouth.
Él dijo: “I did a lot of work into psychopathy and was introduced to some behavioural psychologists and criminal psychologists who were helpful in excavating Tommy and the mindset that he has.
“The way into his headspace has been challenging because, by nature, he lives in a very different space to me and most people I know, on that kind of fringe of humanity. Como resultado, it is one of the more challenging roles.
“But that is kind of the joy when you are asked to empathise with someone who feels very distant from yourself.
“That’s where you learn the most. If you go on that journey with empathy and understanding you get to see the world in an entirely different way.
‘Rollercoaster of a plot’
“Tommy’s version is very different from mine, thank goodness.
“But he has calmed down and there is a definite shift in his temperament. I think that’s because for the first time in a long time he has got hope.”
When Catherine discovers the remains of a gangland murder victim in a drained reservoir, it sparks a chain of events that leads her straight back to Tommy.
But her grandson Ryan is now 16 and has his own ideas about the kind of relationship he wants to have with his dad.
Actor Rhys Connah, who has played the lad through all three series, dicho: “Ryan is just finishing high school. He’s been told lies throughout his life about his past.
“He’s bringing them into question and he’s finally old enough to learn the truth about some of them.
“Ryan’s mum killed herself and he was brought up by his granny, so there’s obviously better times and worse times.
“There’s tension as Catherine sees more of Ryan’s dad in Ryan — more than she’d like to see. He hears all this stuff about Tommy, about how he was a psychopath, un asesino, but Ryan’s now at a stage where he wants to judge for himself.
“There’s enough doubt there, and he wants his dad to be a good man so he wants to believe things are different now.”
Rhys said of his screen dad: “You see James on set between takes and he’s such a nice person.
“Then we’ll start filming and he’ll just instantly switch and there’s this psychopath.”
The six-year wait for a new series was down to writer Sally Wainwright, who wanted Tommy’s son to have matured before she wrote another script.
Ella dijo: “I wanted to get to a point where Ryan would be old enough to start making choices about whether he wanted to have a relationship with his dad or not. And could he have a relationship with his dad, and how would Catherine feel about that? I really wanted to be able to explore that.
“That was always the intention, to have a gap, and it has worked out just about right.
“He is now 16, so he can travel places by himself, he can make choices.
“He can do things behind Catherine’s back.
Tommy and Catherine are epic adversaries pitched against each other. They are obsessed with each other, there’s a kind of deep, deep hatred.
“We always said this would be the final season and it very definitely is the final season.”
For now James, who is engaged to actress Imogen Poots, is as excited for Happy Valley to return as the rest of us.
Él dijo: “I have been predicting for the last seven years how Sally is going to end it, so it was really wonderful to read the script and hear her ideas — and they don’t disappoint.
“It’s wonderful to come back knowing there is such an appetite and a love for the show.
“Sarah Lancashire is an absolute legend in our industry, giving the performance of her life.
“There is always an absolute rollercoaster of a plot, and many people said in the first series that they would end up watching behind their sofa with their hands over their mouth.
“I think both the second and hopefully the third deliver on that.”
- Happy Valley series three begins on January 1 on BBC1 at 9pm.
- The first two series are on BBC iPlayer ahora.
THE TWISTS IN THE TALE SO FAR
SERGEANT Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a strong-willed police officer still coming to terms with the suicide of her teenage daughter, becky, eight years earlier.
She lives with her sister, Clare (Siobhan Finneran), who is helping her raise Becky’s 16-year-old son Ryan (Rhys Connah).
Becky gave birth to Ryan after being raped by Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).
Catherine learns Tommy has been released from jail after serving drug charges and becomes obsessed with finding him – unaware he was already involved in a separate kidnapping.
In the last series, Tommy was back in jail for his latest crimes but has implicated Catherine in a string of murders after his mum was killed.
While trying to prove her innocence, Catherine investigated a human trafficking operation linked to a serial killer.
En otra parte, Tommy recruited a teaching assistant at Ryan’s school to secretly win over his son – and exact revenge on Catherine.