Jason Flemyng plays Albert, the head of the family in Sky Original’s new 1980’s set crime drama A Town Called Malice, here he tells us about the character and working with the young cast.
Why were you so taken by A Town Called Malice?
It’s another gig at Sky, which is great. I’m trying to rack them up! But I’d always really, really wanted to work with Nick. It was weird because when we did all those Guy Ritchie movies, it seemed like you were either in one camp or the other. There weren’t many people who managed to do both. And so I thought I had missed the boat. But enough time has passed for Nick to look at me not just as a part of the Guy Ritchie team. I was really chuffed.
Did you enjoy working with this gifted young cast?
Definitely. We had a great time with a really great young cast. It’s funny now to become a veteran in the business and to have lots of young actors around that I love. I find that a very enriching thing to be surrounded by brilliant young talent.
How would you describe Albert?
He’s a misogynistic, racist beggar. What are his good qualities? He makes a good salad! That’s an endearing quality. I’m not sure how many of his lines are going to make it through the edit, but some of his dialogue is so outrageous. But Albert is entertaining and wild in a very carefree, Neanderthal kind of way. It’s really good fun to play that. It’s great fun to go on Pride marches in my personal life, and then when you go work, you come out with all this nonsense! That’s the joy of being an actor; you can take on these other characters.
Talk us through Albert’s relationship with Mint Ma.
When you’re 16 to 25, you split up with people every six months. But the things that in my life I’m most proud of are obviously having my kids and my relationship with my missus. It has gone through the mill and a procession of highs and lows, but I’m really proud of that resilience. I love that about being monogamous. For Mint Ma and Albert, it’s the same. It’s literally
“for better or for worse.” Unfortunately, being married to Albert, there’s a lot of “worse”!
How did you find it working with Martha?
She was a revelation. When they said they were going to cast Martha Plimpton as my gangster moll wife, I said, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. That’s a dreadful idea.” But of course, she nicked every scene; she was perfect. She’s a much more studied actor than I am, she’s really into the craft. But what’s amazing about her is that she is literally selfless. For her, everything’s about the scene. Everything’s about the message that we’re trying to get across. And I love that. There was no politics, not one minute of upset, and that’s really rare during five months away from home. Tenerife is amazing, but it’s not home. And, as Coriolanus said, there’s a world elsewhere that goes on when you’re filming, and it’s difficult sometimes to deal with both at the same time. But Martha never let anything affect her. She’s a proper pro, and I loved every second of working with her.
Can you put into words Albert’s relationship with Gene?
The dad-son dynamic is a complicated one in any situation. It’s really funny because as a parent, I don’t think I could ever feel threatened by my children’s success or by seeing them blossom. It’s such a relief to see your kids doing OK. But Albert doesn’t feel that. He feels that the blossoming of his son into a hardened criminal like himself in some way dilutes his power and weakens his position, which is a very strange thing to think. Thank God, these aren’t emotions we have to resist. We just don’t feel them. But Albert’s a mess because that’s wrong in every way.
Do you think Albert is insecure because he feels so threatened by Gene?
He must be. That might come from his upbringing, or from his relationship with his dad. As we know, these things go in cycles. Abuse is a cycle and is normalised by how you’re treated as a child, and then that echoes into your relationship with your kids. So as Jason, it’s not something I understand. But as Albert, it’s something where I feel a lot of pity for him. The need to continue that cycle of abuse means he’s a damaged soul and I feel bad for him.
What do you think the Spanish setting adds to the drama?
It’s going to come out when everyone’s going to need that blast of sun. As we come out of a dark January and February, it is just going to be really nice to see that light. Above all, as all my mates in Equity are doing gritty, hard-hitting police dramas in Leeds, I want them to watch this and say, “I hate Flemyng! I can’t believe he’s got that gig in Spain. It looks amazing!” That’s the main reason I did it!
A Town Called Malice is airing Thursday nights on Sky Max.
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