In new Sky Original A Town Called Malice the Lords are a family of former South London criminals who find themselves at the bottom of the criminal food chain in the early 1980s, and they are not happy about it. After losing a gang war, the Lords see the Costa del Sol as an opportunity to start over and reclaim their former glory. Nonetheless, they fight amongst themselves as much as they do with outside forces. Full of love, obsession, bloodshed, treachery, and swagger, this high-octane, neon Western is a musical love letter to the ’80s.
Here Jack Rowan who plays Gene, here tells us all about the series.
Tell us what you loved about A Town Called Malice when you first read it.
Everything! As an actor, auditions come through all the time. Most scripts are OK, but there are those things that come along every now and then where if you don’t get it, you’re gutted. This was one of those. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. The music, the world, but mainly the opportunity to play a character who has such an arc and such a journey over a long period of time. The choices Gene makes in the early stages affect the choices he makes later on. I just love the idea of getting really stuck into a character. All my favourite films are about complex, imperfect people – I seem to just connect with them. And Gene was certainly that. I love him!
Can you sketch in Gene’s character for us?
What I love about him is that even at the beginning, he’s never weak. He’s got something about him. That fire is always in him. So it’s not surprising where he ends up. That’s what makes a good leader. He’s someone who doesn’t have to be the biggest or the strongest, but perhaps he is the smartest and he thinks outside the box. As the story goes on, I love the little bits where Albert is quick to be aggressive or rude and Gene always plays the game of being respectful in response. He’s playing that game all the way along and getting all these people on side. But in the end, he’s in it for himself, for his family and for his partner.
How would you characterise his relationship with his parents?
It might not always be a great relationship – things go wrong in families – but there’s always that love. Between Gene and his parents, there’s obviously a little bit of tension. Gene sometimes resents that he’s even involved with these sorts of people. But ultimately, they are his mum and dad. Gene never really has a problem with his mum, it’s more his dad. Jason and I spoke a lot about Albert and Gene and how not to make them one dimensional. It’s an extremely complex relationship. As time goes on, they bicker and they feud. But from Gene’s point of view, Albert’s still his dad and he still loves him. They go through peaks and troughs for sure, but no matter what, Gene can never hate his dad too much.
Talk us through Gene’s relationship with Cindy.
They’re like Bonnie and Clyde. They’re madly in love. They’re a really good team who will face whatever challenges life throws at them together. They are a couple who are in it for the long run. When you first meet them, they haven’t been in a relationship for five years or 10 years. It’s relatively early on, but it’s clearly the relationship they’ve been waiting for. They’ve had partners before, but this is the one. When they look into the future, they can see the other person there. I’d describe them as people who can make it to the end together.
How did you find it working with Tahirah?
I loved it. We had so much in common. We’re different ages, but it turned out that we went to the same secondary school and just missed each other. Tahirah and I worked so intensely with each other, but it was an absolute joy. We have the same sort of humour and were always laughing and joking. She’s got a really contagious laugh. We were always very keen to make it a happy environment and to keep it fresh. But when the scenes were tough or we were against the clock, we knew how to switch it on.
What did you adore about the 1980s setting?
My mum lived through the 80s, and she always says it was the best time ever. If life is ever getting her down, I always remind her, “But Mum, you lived through the 80s, when the world was just amazing!” So I always enjoy listening to my mum’s 80s stories. And I also can tell you a nice story about the’80s.
During lockdown, everyone’s life was up in the air because no one knew what was on the horizon. My sleeping pattern was so screwed up. During that period, I would literally turn on the PlayStation sometimes at 3am or 4am because I couldn’t sleep. One night I started playing Crash Bandicoot till the sun came up at 7am. Then I turned the PlayStation off, and I started getting really emotional and crying. My girlfriend woke up, and she turned to me and said, “What’s wrong? Are you OK?” And I genuinely said to her, “I’m just really sad because I’ll never live in the 80s. I’m never going to get that.” So we had that dramatic moment. Then fast forward to this year. I don’t have to cry about that anymore because technically I did live through the 80s. I had a little taste of it in A Town Called Malice. So perhaps it was always meant to be!
A Town Called Malice airs Thursday nights on Sky Max.