War and Peace’s James Norton on obsessive fans

James Norton, currently starring in War and Peace and soon to be in the highly anticipated second series of Happy Valley has been talking to the Radio Times about how obsessive some of his fans became during the broadcast of the very intense first season of HV.

Norton, 30, appeared in the British BBC drama in 2014 as Tommy Lee Royce, a violent ex-convict who abducts and ties up a young woman.And while series one was airing, Mr Norton said he was contacted by fans on Twitter who were drawn to the character, with one asking “Take me to your cellar”.

But although he admits he felt uncomfortable by the comments, he said his empathy as an actor helped him to understand the attention.

“People create their own fantasies around figures like Tommy”, said Mr Norton, who used the help of a psychologist to research the nature of psychopathy.“I read some case studies and it’s very common, this instinct to save these broken souls. People are drawn to darkness.“I can’t stand ‘outside’ and be cynical or judgmental about him [Tommy Lee Royce]. In his head, every hit, every rape, is about survival.“

The reason we why we love things like Happy Valley is that we are obsessed by the extreme edges of life.”

The son of teachers, Mr Norton was educated by Benedictine monks at Ampleforth College in Yorkshire, and he went on to read theology at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.At Cambridge he was heavily involved with student drama and Rada was his next calling.

“I went to the gym for a month, and I didn’t drink for a month, and it’s weird how that changes you; you do feel this increased sense of control,” he said, speaking to Radio Times about his preparation for Happy Valley. 

“It was important to me to have that physical side to Tommy, because he is a very vain man, but it was also about experiencing that obsessive, almost OCD quality that intensive training brings.”

We are very much looking forward to the second series of Happy Valley that’s for sure.

Source: Daily Telegraph | Radio Times pic via Immediate.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.