Paapa Essiedu: A lot of current politicians have a “fake it until you make it” attitude
When it comes to starting a new job, background research is generally advised. It’s advice that’s clearly overtaken Paapa Essiedu, given the actor has now revealed how little he knew about upcoming BBC drama The Capture before signing on as the lead.
“Ben Shannon, our amazing showrunner, emailed me to tell me a bit about the character and season two – I hadn’t watched season one yet at this point,” Essiedu confesses.
“I actually didn’t watch Season 1 until I was halfway through filming. I remember watching it and saying, ‘Thank God, this is really good’.”
Best known for his roles in I May Destroy, Press and Gangs Of London, the 32-year-old Emmy and Bafta-nominated star is set to enter the slippery world of politics this time around.
Essiedu, a former Royal Shakespeare Company actor, takes on the role of government minister Isaac Turner – noting that current events can often be stranger than fiction when it comes to Westminster.
“Some of the things that we experience today in our headlines seem to be comfortable in our program,” the actor admits.
Observing “some unmodified politicians” as part of his preparation for the role, Essiedu says his prime behind the gates of Westminster was a “really useful” experience, allowing for a different perspective on the political arena.
Admitting to the “arranged appearances” of many politicians, the actor describes his excitement at being able to delve into the “underbelly of Whitehall”.
Quick to see the “resilience” required to stay in power as a sitting MP – “or at least to be a career politician” – the actor readily admits that “the tide can turn against you very quickly”.
“I don’t know if it’s naivety, but I think a lot of politicians today have a ‘fake it until you make it’ attitude,” Essiedu says.
“I think Isaac is no different – in the fact that he’s confident and feels like he knows what he’s doing. And there’s real strategy and purpose in the way that he runs his business.”
Arriving on BBC One later this month, the second series of the plot-laden show takes a panicked look at the blurred lines separating the digital world from reality.
Directed by Holliday Grainger as principle Detective Inspector Rachel Carey, the first series centered on Special Forces Lance Corporal Shaun Emery (Callum Turner), who after being acquitted of war crimes in Afghanistan, was later… accused of the kidnapping and murder of his lawyer on the basis of damning acts. CCTV evidence.
Except that the evidence turned out to be less than reliable. And with DI Carey later uncovering a complex conspiracy tied to facial recognition software and a secret government task force, the second series was a long time coming.
Now, with upcoming episodes positioning themselves as a seamless continuation of the first series, viewers should prepare for even more gripping twists.
Best known for her roles in Cinderella and Great Expectations, Grainger describes how her character Rachel “had her eyes opened to the corruption she didn’t believe was there” during series one. Now, as she prepares to reprise the role, Grainger says the palpable sense of unease within the show is set to continue.
“She thought her life might be in danger. So she’s paranoid and anxious and suspicious of everyone. It’s a very lonely place, I think,” says Grainger, 34.
A series that opens with a Chinese dissident gunned down in his apartment, we discover that CCTV footage of the apartment building has been suspected to have been erased. And as security fears mount, attention turns to the MP he was working with in a deal to bring Chinese facial recognition software into the UK – that MP being Isaac Turner.
Once again penned by The Missing and Cyberbully director Ben Chanan, the creative admits series two always felt like a challenge.
“I carried the first series in my head for about five years before I made it. And then suddenly they wanted the second,” smiles Chanan.
Reflecting on the show’s influences, Chanan freely admits that many of the details contained in the new episodes were lifted from the floor of the editing room.
“Oddly enough, when I first wrote what we call the ‘vomit draft,’ episode one of season one, he wasn’t a soldier, he was a politician,” Chanan explains.
“I got to the end of this vomit draft and thought ‘who cares about politicians? I need someone people care about.” And I realized if we make him a soldier, the whole story makes sense.”
Admitting that even a figure closely tied to national security can be “skewered” by disinformation, Chanan says Turner “doesn’t even realize his own intelligence agencies are involved yet.”
With safety front and center, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Essiedu’s actual boating habits might have changed as a result of the show. In reality, however, the actor says a lot of his online safety choices come down to convenience.
“I used to have one of those band-aids on your laptop’s webcam, just in case Steve Jobs cared,” the actor says, before admitting he’s taking on the suggestions. automated computer passwords.
“Every time I’m like, ‘I really should find my own password and just write it down.’ But I can’t bother doing it.
“And so we’re kind of enslaved to technology in a way that’s both comfortable and uncomfortable. So I’m shaking as much as the next person, but I feel as dependent as the next person too.”
The Catch, BBC1, Sunday, 9 p.m.