Q & A with Nathaniel Parker
By: Catriona Wightman
If you fancy a brand new drama to really sink your teeth into, you're in luck! ITV's got Injustice for you, which will be stripped across next week from Monday to Friday.
The show (written by the wonderful Anthony Horowitz) stars James Purefoy as a criminal barrister called Will who's recovering from a nervous breakdown. He's given up on murder cases, but when his old friend Martin calls him up in a little bit of trouble, will he agree to help out? As if that wasn't enough, their story intertwines with another murder, being investigated by a creepy cop (Charlie Creed Miles).
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries star Nathaniel Parker's playing Martin, so we grabbed him for a chat about Injustice. Read on to find out what he had to say about the show, why he doesn't like its title, and whether he'd return to Inspector Lynley
So, what's Injustice about?
"It's about the very vague line between good and evil. About knowing what you feel you should do and what is overstepping the mark. And I think it does that for almost every one of the main characters. You'll see by the end of episode five that those that are around have dilemmas."
What's your character Martin like?
"He's a lawyer. Pompous. He's having an affair - not for the first time. The first time with this wife! But he's sleeping with his secretary, he's very clichéd like that. And he has a wife who sticks up for him when she finds out. But he's in a desperate place. He's been accused of [murder] and what does he do? The only person he can think of is his old mate."
When you got the script, did you know whether Martin was guilty or not guilty?
"No, I didn't. And I assumed one thing. When I had my meeting with [director] Colm McCarthy, he said, 'What do you think? Did he do it or not?' I hated being put on the spot. I said what I said, and I got it wrong. So it really does make you guess, and I love that. Last year, I'd read quite a few scripts and I just got to the beginning of episode two [of Injustice] and within three pages of episode two I went, 'Oh, I've got to do this. This is just class above all the others I've been reading'. It's a thrill."
Martin's been charged with murder, he's sleeping with his secretary and he works in the oil trade. Was it hard for you to make him a sympathetic character?
"Oh, he's lovely! He doesn't think he's unsympathetic. As he says to William, 'Look, I know what it looks like, but I didn't do it'. You see him at the very beginning in a place which is very vulnerable and he doesn't feel he should be there. Last night, I watched it with my wife and she said, 'God, you feel sorry for this arse. He's a tosser but you feel sorry for him'. I think if that's the reaction, then I've succeeded."
Martin calls up Will to ask him to be his lawyer, but they haven't seen each other for years. Why does he go there?
"Because he was a high-profile lawyer. He needs somebody on his side, someone who - despite their history together - might have a personal connection. He's got a well-known flair for being the underdog fighter who gets people off on clever little technicalities or doubt."
You mentioned the history between Martin and Will. Does Martin feel that Will owes him because of what happened in their past?
"I think he hopes that will play. He starts talking about kids straight away - what's the personal side of it - and that's his way of saying, 'Please do it, please come on my side because otherwise I'm floundering'. I think he does try and play the history. I should have thought of that when I was doing it!"
So what's the relationship between Martin and Will like?
"I think it was very good. It does grow - you see more of it as it comes out on a casual basis. It became very tense. I'd be giving away a bit to explain the whole thing of it. But they were very good mates and then something happened."
Can we expect some shocks and surprises, then?
"Yeah, all the way through. You get that with a lot of modern dramas - there's always a twist. The trick is making it a twist you don't predict, and I think that's what Anthony does very well. And then there's another twist after that!"
So how did you react when you were reading the scripts?
"I was very concentrated. It's delicious. When you're reading a good script, even in the grim bits you're going, 'Ooh, this is brilliant'. So I was quite taken with it, yeah."
There are so many legal and crime dramas out there - what makes Injustice different?
"It's certainly not the title, is it?"
Are you not happy with the name?
"I think it could be called anything else! I was sure we'd had shows called Injustice already. I think it could have been something more subtle - like Martin Newall's Story, all about Martin! No, it's alright. It's an okay title. It doesn't grab you, I don't think, as a title. But I think because there have been so many of those names before, what grabs you is that it's quite fast and puzzling and you've got to keep up."
Is it something the audience has to concentrate on?
"Yeah, definitely. And I think that's gripping. I think the audience today of this genre are very clued in and they'll probably have a go at us for not being procedurally correct in some moments of the trial, but you know what? I think everything else takes over."
Are you pleased the show is being stripped over five nights?
"Yes. I'd advise people not to bother with the first night if they want a night off because I'm not in that! The beginning of episode two, they show you what happened the night before - and you can go off halfway through episode three just for 20 minutes! No, I do like it. I've seen a couple of five-nighters before and I think they're great events. A couple of them I've seen before, I've thought, 'No, this should be two nights or three nights, they've really padded it out'. I don't think this one pads anything out. In fact they've stripped back quite a lot. Very impressive."
If you had to sell Injustice, why should people watch?
"I'd say it'll be the best drama you'll see for a couple of years."
That's quite a big claim! Do you genuinely believe that?
"Yeah. I thought it was fantastic, really fantastic."
Obviously a lot of people know you for The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. You seemed quite upset when it was cancelled and thought it wasn't the right time for it to go.
"Did you get that from cuttings? There was one paper who wrote a big article about how disgusted I was, but I never gave them an interview!"
Oh, I'll take it back then!
"You're right in one respect. I was disappointed, because I was thinking at the beginning of that year, 'Oh, I think I could do half a dozen of these' and they suggested doing half a dozen. I said yeah, and then they pulled it after two. I didn't quite know why and nobody did call me. It's taken a few years to start shedding that mantle. I love the mantle, actually - I did have good fun doing it. It is something that put me in a bit of a rut in some ways, but I would definitely do the odd one or two if I was asked. I'm not sure we'd get Sharon [Small] anymore - she's probably too expensive! But no, I loved it. I loved Lynley. I could tell though that there were other things out there waiting that I couldn't do because of it. [People would say], 'It's so easy for you to do because you're upper class'. Actually the real challenge quite often was not being me, making it different. Don't just turn up and do it. Work at it, make sure you know what you're doing. I did have a really good time doing it and I worked with some great people."
It seems like it was a bit of a mixed blessing.
"It was a mixed blessing - a double-edged sword. On one side, you get so much more better known and jobs open up a little bit when you're not working on it. But on the other side, that's all people see you as for some time. I still get introduced as Inspector Lynley to a lot of people. People behind the cash counter still say, 'Where do I know you from? Yeah, that's it'. I finished it three years ago!"