See: I came by cast and director discuss the dark side of Hugh Bonneville
He is known for playing cuddly avatars of postcard Britain in the likes of Downton Abbey and Paddingtonbut Hugh Bonneville is definitely bad in the Netflix thriller I came by.
The Downton Abbey star plays Hector Blake in the film – a retired judge with a track record of helping refugees in the courts.
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But the character may just be hiding something sinister, which comes to light when a graffiti activist played by George MacKay breaks into his home.
“When people see the film, they’re going to see Hugh in a way that he’s never been seen before,” MacKay told Yahoo Entertainment UK.
MacKay added: “He’s incredibly professional so he was able to kind of turn it on.
“It was, you know, not weird being around the set or anything, but when action was called and, and that character was turned on, it was amazing to be in the room and suddenly see it happen in front of you.”
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Bonneville himself said he was able to step away from the character when the cameras weren’t rolling, joking with co-star Kelly Macdonald, who plays MacKay’s mother.
He said: “When you’re dealing with something that sometimes gets into the darker corners of the human psyche, it’s important to have a sense of humor about things.
“So Kelly Macdonald and I used to just argue about who was going to have the last KitKat in the green room.”
As for the character herself, Bonneville said he was reminded of an exchange between acting legends Sybil Thorndike and Peggy Ashcroft, in which Ashcroft worried about how to play a character as “terrible” as Lady Macbeth.
“I think Sybil Thorndike said ‘well, don’t be ridiculous, you love your husband, don’t you?’. So that was the key, you know. As long as you understand that there’s a humanity in there somewhere.” Bonneville said.
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He added: “I think [Hector Blake] is a pillar of the establishment. And it was interesting to see as I was reading the script, as the surprises came and the twists, that he was actually a little more complex than some of the other pillars of the establishment that I could have played.”
Certainly, for Anvari, part of the joy of casting Bonneville was in having the ability to subvert the persona of such a familiar face to British audiences.
“I’m actually really excited to see how people react to this version of Hugh. He’s such an amazing collaborator and amazing man,” Anvari said.
The Under the shade The director added, “It was very brave of him to take on this role and he didn’t even flinch or wink at the idea. He went for it.
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“I always say that people from a comedy background have this amazing ability to tap into their dark side as well, which Hugh did so brilliantly. That’s part of the thrill.
“People know him from Paddington his movies and comedies, and of course Downtonso I’m looking forward to seeing how people react to this version of Mr Bonneville.”
Bonneville said that it was Anvari’s vision and his ability to play with expectations around the genre that allowed the actor to tackle a completely different role than what he has been used to.
The star said: “I really needed to talk to him to understand where things were going and what the background of this character was.
“And I realized that Babak is just as dark and twisted as I thought he was.”
I came by is in UK cinemas now, debuting on Netflix on 26 August.
Watch: Trailer for dark Netflix thriller I came by