Gangs of London Q&A — Mark Lewis Jones On The Importance of Shooting This Episode in Wales
In Gangs of London, Mark Lewis Jones plays Kinney Edwards, the ruthless ringleader of a group of Welsh travelers who's on a quest to save his son. In this interview with amc.com, Jones talks about Kinney wearing all those rings, why both brutality and love define his character, and how the final scene has echoes of Chikamatsu and Shakespeare.
Q: What initially drew you to Gangs of London and the role of Kinney?
A: Well, the thing that drew me to this was Gareth Evans. I'd worked with him on Apostle and seen The Raid films, so when he came back to Wales, I was so pleased. I'd been working with Ed Talfan on a film called The Passing, and Ed became one of the producers on Apostle, so, yeah, Gareth was the draw. When he showed me the script and I saw the character of Kinney, I was delighted.
Q: How did you work with Gareth, Matt Flannery, and the creative team to bring Kinney to life? Do you remember making specific choices when crafting his portrayal?
A: One of the things I was really keen on having were these rings, a ring on each of the fingers. When we first see him walking through the community and he's wearing that big collar with the coat and the rings he has this natural authority. The way he moves, he's very sure of himself. He has an almost animalistic quality to him and a real presence. All of that was in the writing and it was up to me to put it all together.
When I went for wardrobe, I spent a long time there—more than I have for almost any other show—looking at coats, rings, jewelry and the homemade tattoos. They were really important. They spoke of history.
Q: So, the rings were your idea?
A: Yeah! And it's a funny thing... rings clacking together... You know when something goes through you, like chalk on a blackboard? Rings clacking together goes through Gareth. So whenever I was on set, [he'd say], "Oh, those rings!" It was funny. I was in Cardiff having a coffee with a friend, and he had all these rings on his fingers. This was about a month before we were starting, and I thought, "That's it! That's it! That's Kinney." In my mind all of the rings meant something—they were from his mother or his father. They all represented him. They weren't just rings.
Q: What were your initial reactions when you read the script for this episode?
A: Oh, I loved the whole thing. I read [all the scripts] in one go. I felt that Kinney and the traveller family were, in a peculiar way, separate to the whole cosmopolitan world. They were this whole other family that get involved through the killing of the head of the Wallace family, but there is a separation. I understood Kinney just from the first reading. I could understand him. I could see where his absolute brutality was and his extreme violence, but I could also see that he would literally go to the end of the world for his son. When you've got those two opposing poles of extreme violence and extreme love, then you've got a great character.
Q: Gareth Evans mentioned he was excited to film this particular episode in Wales. Being Welsh yourself, were you as interested as he was in bringing the production there for that episode?
A: It was so right that it was shot in Wales. It was being shot simultaneously to other episodes, so we had a lot of the Apostle crew on it. It really felt like we were coming to Wales to do a standalone episode that had to be shot in Wales and needed to be on Welsh soil. Where the pub is, for instance, it needed that landscape. So I think it was hugely important to Gareth that that episode was shot on Welsh soil.
If you go back to the first episode when we first see the campsite, it's outside of a city or town, but it doesn't feel like Wales. In fact, it was shot in Kent. So when we do get to Wales, you feel like Kinney's gone on this big journey, and when we see them with the boat coming in and the cliff, it's a bigger world, it's a more dramatic world. It's a bigger landscape and more applicable really to this episode.
Q: Kinney is an absolute tank in this episode. What was your experience like filming? In the beginning, needing to power through his debilitating wounds, to the end when he's being sprayed with gunfire and explosions?
A: Oh great fun! Why wouldn't it be? And the thing about this work we do with Gareth, is that it's hard because it's so precise at times. It's big, it's epic, and you're in the dirt and the blood for most of it, but it's also great fun. I loved shooting this episode. It felt like we were doing a separate film in a way, and it's why it's a standalone episode. We have such an amazing beginning, middle, and end, so you could take it out and just present it as a film in its own right.
Q: This episode is certainly very different from sitting in an office.
A: And we see all that. We see all of the huge glass, posh offices, leather chairs and things, and then suddenly we're in the toilet of an old pub on top of a mountain.
Q: Can you describe what's motivating Kinney in this episode? He obviously wants his son to live, but with the total destruction of everything around them, and their relationship, do you think Kinney thinks it's worth the cost?
A: Yeah, I think he does. It's too easy to say that he's driven by love, but ultimately that's what it is. When I was doing the end of this story, the Japanese writer Chikamatsu is something I thought about. At the end of his stories two people are left, stripped down completely, everything taken away from them, all their worldly goods, and then there's this coming together, this union. Up to now we've seen nothing but separation, and by the end of this episode, you feel when Kinney is holding his son and there's this fantasy and dream about us going away — we know it's not going to happen, Kinney knows it's not going to happen — but what does happen is they become one. It's normally lovers in the Chikamatsu story, but in this it was a father and son story. When they've gone through the tunnel and they end up on the pier, there's this real sense of almost being freed, even though they're both going to lose their lives. It felt really Shakespearean.
Q: How did you feel shooting the final scene in the episode? There's a tender devastation there that's markedly different from the frenetic violence prior. What was it like for you to be a part of that moment?
A: It was really a touching moment, because Darren goes back to being a little boy. He calls out his dad's name. It was a great few days down on that pier, and it was almost as it looks. You knew that it was the end for these great characters. It was a hugely important moment in the series, and particularly for this family.
Gangs of London airs Sundays at 10/9c AMC. Check out the full schedule here. Full episodes are available to stream now on amc.com, the AMC apps for mobile and devices, and on AMC+. The entire first season is available to watch now with AMC+, which is available through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ to stream Gangs of London now on amc.com, on mobile for iOS and Android devices, and on your TV streaming device with the AMC app, available for Roku, Apple TV, FireTV, Xbox One, Android TV, and Chromecast.
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