Joe Dempsie plays returning soldier Chris Cooper. He talks about Chris' journey and how his character copes with the tragedy.
How is Chris affected by the shooting?
There were various stages to Chris’s journey. He is a young soldier on leave from Afghanistan. The first episode is primarily about the emotions that brings. The initial euphoria of seeing familiar faces, surroundings and the luxuries of home. That quickly gives way to restlessness; he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He finds it hard to plunge back in to a normal life after the stress of a warzone and he struggles to re-adjust. During that time he meets Stephen, who offers a way out of his boredom. Certain events take place with Stephen which leads to Chris retaliating and then having to deal with the ensuing guilt. It’s an interesting journey about a young man who arrives back to his hometown fairly troubled, who is then comprehensively broken down.
How do you think Chris deals with his grief in comparison to the other characters in Southcliffe?
He doesn’t deal with it at all well. Something happens to him and at that point he blames it all on himself not realising that a great deal of Southcliffe’s residents also feel responsible. I don’t think Chris sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast and Director Sean Durkin?
Fantastic, I learned so much. All of the cast were so different. Sean Harris has a certain way of working; he’s very much in the moment. You never quite knew what he was going to do in a take; he kept me on my toes. I find that process really exciting and I love doing scenes with actors like that. My favourite actors to watch are unpredictable and Sean is definitely one of them, so to finally work with him was brilliant.
I’m also a big fan of Sean Durkin. Working with him was such a great experience. If you are a fan of someone’s work it can always cause slight apprehension because you want to do a good job for them but he put me at ease straight away. The atmosphere on set was really relaxed considering we were shooting such heavy material.
How did you prepare for the role? Was there any research you carried out beforehand?
I played a solider with Post Traumatic Stress last year and I did some research back then and followed it up this time by talking to some servicemen. Everything post Stephen’s killing spree though I had to rely on instinct. You just have to imagine how you would feel personally in that situation.