Endeavour I Press Pack
How did you feel when you were first asked to audition for the role of a young Morse?
I was working abroad at the time and my agent called and asked "what do you think about playing Morse" and I said, "I don't know - I've never seen it!". I bought the books while I was away and read all of them, so that was my first introduction to Morse. I flew back, and loved the script. I didn't want to do an impression of anything that had been done before. Not that there isn't a place for that because there probably is, but if that's what they were looking for then they'd be better giving it to someone else; there's nothing worse than getting onto set and people not liking what you're doing or that what is expected of you is not what you're willing to give. I wanted to avoid all of that. It wouldn't work for me that way so how could it possibly work for anyone else? So it wasn't an audition - it was a whittling down of what we all wanted to get out of it. I took it and tried to run with it, to give it everything it deserved. And I want it to be the best it can be. I want for it to build and for each one to be better than the next. If we can aspire to that - if this is the only series and we've achieved that - we can be proud.
Was there a part of you that thought that's THE Morse?
No because, to be honest, I just missed that given the age I am. I had knowledge about the show but I didn't know it was based on books. I'm glad about that really. You have to come to something with fresh eyes. I was in America at the time so I couldn't just go and get a bunch of DVDs - I had to get the books first. Thank God, as that way it’s all in your imagination. I don’t think you can work properly if you have anxiety about something; it's stops you doing the work you’re paid to do. We’re meant to get rid of that [anxiety] to be as creative as possible. Ultimately my boss is the audience. I understand what this show is but I've got to connect with my character in order for it to connect for people. What intrigued me was that, in the books, you have someone who ultimately dies on his own in his mid 50's, not necessarily a happy person. I thought 'I wonder how we are going to sow the seeds of who that person becomes'.
How did you find the media interest in the reprisal of such an iconic role?
I was surprised and pleased. You can make films and often they get released on four screens in the UK. Although it's been interesting and good for you, if no one’s seen it, what's the point? I remember I was still doing prep for the pilot and we had to do a photo shoot. I thought ‘great - we have picked the costume, so that’ll be a good opportunity to see what it feels like.’ I was surprised, and pleased, at the interest that shot got [in the following day’s papers]. It was amazing.
We are obviously familiar with the older Morse, but who is the younger man? What are those ‘seeds’ you are sowing?
We have tried to show someone who is slightly out of joint with the world he is in. He does have a talent for this particular line of work but he finds it difficult to get over things from his past and move on. As a result of that he's trapped a lot in his head, which is both a great and terrible thing. A great thing because you have these tiny details of people and crimes and Endeavour has space in his head to ruminate and pay attention to those, which ultimately brings justice to the stories we’ve created. By the same token in his personal life, he finds it difficult to move on in a relationship and suffers with social awkwardness. He's still trying to find his feet. I also think that the flip side to being tenacious is the feeling of being superior and more intelligent than the people around him.
What is it about this man that the public love so much?
With the films that were made with John Thaw, I think that it was a combination of an interesting character played by a very charismatic actor. As a detective, he has that combination of imagination, intellect and curiosity. With our films it's very much still forming. We have to tell a great story and tell it really well. But all the credit is due to Colin Dexter. None of us can take credit for Endeavour Morse apart from Colin. We do our thing but the idea of sitting at your kitchen counter and creating a character - that's really special. He's very pleased and grateful with what we try to bring to Endeavour. That makes me happy.
What's Morse's relationship with Fred Thursday?
It's evolving. It's easy to say it's a father/son relationship but it's more interesting than that. Thursday is somebody whose time and way of working is about to change. If you throw on top of that this guy who hasn't got a relationship with his father, Thursday feels he has something to impart to Endeavour. Thursday sees the potential in him but also that capacity to screw it up. If you're mentoring someone, they are the ones who need slightly more attention - the ones you think can be brilliant if they just stop screwing it up. With brilliance alone, you'll just rise to the top. But if you do need a guiding hand, those more complicated people are definitely more interesting.
What do you enjoy most about the production?
The 1960s setting is very authentic. It's lovely seeing the girls dressed up and the chaps in suits. It's good for a story to have a strong style. The four directors each have their very own take on how it should look and although we've had the same production and costumes designers, each one has had a different spin. It adds something to it. Also Oxford is a very special place - the architecture, the streets, the people walking around.