David Harewood, who plays Joel Steadman on The Night Manager, discusses his character’s relationship with Angela Burr, playing an American among a bunch of Brits, and why Steadman is unsure of Pine.
Q: What attracted you to the show? Were you a fan of the source material?
A: I was in the middle of shooting Supergirl and I [originally] wasn’t going to be available. So, I didn’t have the opportunity to even look at the source material. To be honest with you, I relied on my Homeland days and dug into my bag of tricks to come up with a field officer like Joel Steadman. Homeland was a good reference for that.
Q: You’ve played other government agents before, most notably on Homeland. What draws you these types of characters?
A: It’s just what’s been coming in, to be honest, but it’s something I’m very now aware of. I was very lucky to get something like Homeland, and that corporate and authoritative feel seems to have stuck. I’ve been wearing a lot of suits!
Q: Like most of the cast, you are British, but you play one of the few Americans on the show. Was that challenging?
A: It was probably the most difficult thing I have done to date because I totally underestimated how difficult it would be to do an American accent while surrounded by British people. In America, it’s fine because I can hear the accent, but it’s completely different in the U.K. I struggled with that. The day after I finished the Supergirl pilot, I flew straight to London, so I didn’t have a chance to really do the [accent] work. It was certainly a difficult undertaking to “stay American.”
Q: You and Olivia Colman have such great chemistry. How would you describe Angela Burr and Steadman’s relationship and what it means to Steadman?
A: I think it’s unspoken and to try to name it would be a shame. I got on so well with Olivia. I didn’t know her personally, but we had such fantastic laughs. We laughed every day. I think that shines through in the work and you get the impression that something has gone on, but you’re not quite sure exactly what it is.
Q: For Burr, bringing down Roper is such a personal mission. What drives Steadman to keep up this chase?
A: With Steadman, it’s different. He’s like a cowboy and he’s all about right and wrong. If he feels somebody has transgressed, he’ll go after them. I think he’s much more of a maverick than Burr. Joel thrives on that. This is a bad guy and needs to be brought down. So, if he’s hunting somebody, he’ll go out of his way to bring them down.
Q: Is Steadman driven at all by his own feelings for Burr?
A: Of course. This is a friend in need, and I think he realizes that this is something very personal to her, so he’s going to come through for her.
Q: In Episode 5, Steadman goes on out on a limb for Burr and it blows up in his face. How does that land on him?
A: They were burned, and all of these things cost. Joel is someone who is very efficient, very accurate, very slick, so that’s a huge miss. It backfires on his reputation, as well as everybody else who looked to him as the guy that has the firepower. He’s supposed to have the know-how and he put people’s lives at risk.
Q: Does he blame Burr’s “bad intelligence” or does he believe that Roper has gotten the better of them both by turning Pine to his side?
A: It’s definitely a fear for him, without a doubt, but it’s Burr that makes him stick with it. It goes back to them being friends. Though I’m sure he’s disappointed with the false information and the fear that Pine has turned, I think he still believes in [Burr]. But he doesn’t know whether or not Pine is playing both sides. That’s what’s delicious about the show. You just don’t know who’s playing who and who’s got whose back.
Q: Steadman seems a little unsure of the mission at the end of Episode 5. How do you in your life find the resolve to keep going on against all odds?
A: It’s easier said than done, but at the end of the day, you just have to have faith and trust yourself. You have to listen to your intuition and know that things aren’t always going to be easy. Once you accept that, it’s a relief and you don’t have to worry anymore. There are going to be challenges, but you try not to let that cloud your faith. I’m 51 years old now, and things have been OK. Maybe I’m just lucky.
Q: What was your favorite location that you shot in for the show?
A: Morocco, hands down. Marrakesh is just the most wonderful city. They have indoor markets and you see belts and bags being made. You can wander down there every day and try not to buy loads of stuff. It was a beautiful location, a fantastic cast, wonderful people and a great backdrop. It was just a great experience and we really had a fabulous time there.
Read an interview with The Night Manager co-star Elizabeth Debicki.
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