Hello Robbites and Foxes. Below are interviews with Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox before series six in 2011. Series six contained the episodes; The Soul of Genius, Generation of Vipers, Fearful Symmetry and The Indelible Stain. Enjoy.
Kevin Whately is DI Robert Lewis
Are you pleased with how popular Lewis has become?
A lot of people come up to me and tell me how much they like Lewis. Six years in I think viewers have got used to the show. It’s funny how many people were affronted by the way Morse treated Lewis, but now he’s very much his own man.
Do you get fan mail?
We get huge amounts of fan mail from all over the world. We get a lot from America and Australia and even from places like the Middle East and Russia.
The genre is universal. Detection and murder mysteries are very popular everywhere, not just in the UK.
What makes Lewis different from other detective dramas?
Lewis has an extra angle, which is academia and Oxford University. Our guest cast includes well-established actors and we also have a mix of young cast straight out of drama school playing the students so we get quite a good cross section of audience as it appeals to people of all ages. Furthermore, Lewis has been around for so long and people know him as a very dependable character. The stories are also interesting and look good because the production values are always very high on the films. Another appeal is Oxford, which is another character to the plot. It’s a gorgeous and fascinating place.
Have you got a favourite place in Oxford?
Oriel College is where we film the most, so I feel at home there. Around the corner from Oriel College is a lovely garden with the old city wall around the outside looking down on Christ Church Meadow.
There is a Morse bar in the Randolph and they are opening a Lewis bar at the back as an overflow area. I haven’t visited yet but it’s on my list of things to do. They serve Morse and Lewis cocktails there for tourists who like to visit Oxford.
How has Lewis developed over the years?
I’ve been playing Lewis for 26 years. He’s now a very different person having spent his entire life in the police force. He started off as quite happy-go-lucky but over time he’s got grumpier.
What can we expect from the new series?
There are four films and each is very different. I was very interested in the subject matter for Generation of Vipers because it looks at the Internet. It’s how you police it and the nature of privacy, which is in the news at the moment so it’s right up to date.
At the start of the film Lewis and Hathaway are branded heroes when they stop a suspect getting away by rugby tackling him to the ground. The arrest is caught live on TV, and the next thing we know they are being castigated by a website for their actions. As actors we’re used to media attention and I found it very interesting because the characters are not used to being in the limelight. Lewis is amused at first and really likes being on TV arresting a suspect. He feels he’s got one over DI Peterson, played by Jason Durr, who is a bit like ‘action man’. But the next thing Lewis knows he’s up to his neck in new media and realises he’s powerless to stop people saying exactly what they like online whether it’s true or not.
How would you describe Lewis and Hathaway’s working relationship this series?
Hathaway gets cheekier every year but Lewis gives as good as he gets. They are like an odd couple. They have the odd disagreement, which is bound to happen. In the future I think it might be interesting to add an extra edge and see a bit more fighting between the pair.
How does the introduction of DI Peterson affect Lewis?
DI Peterson is more of an old-fashioned type of cop. He likes shooting from the hip, being the ‘action man’ and donning body armour, whereas Lewis isn’t very physical. DI Peterson also tends to speak first and think later. All that gets up Lewis’s nose. He’s definitely not Lewis’s sort of cop in any sense. And there may be a hint of jealously where Dr Hobson is concerned!
Do you think Lewis and Hobson’s relationship will develop?
I think Lewis is scared. He is still seems obsessed by his wife and being a widower. Hobson couldn’t make it more obvious that she’s interested in him, if he had the courage to take it further. If he’s not careful she will move on, and may have done so already. But Lewis is determined to go into his dotage as a confirmed widower. He struggling to move on and take that next step.
You work with a host of guest stars in Lewis. Who can we expect to see this year?
Alex Jennings, Celia Imrie and James Fleet are in the first film, The Soul of Genius. I’ve worked with Alex before and I think the world of him; he’s one of the top stage actors in the country. I’ve also worked with Celia before, a long time ago when we played lovers in a cartoon that was a huge hit with undergraduates. Celia played a hippopotamus and I played a dog. We first met 30 years ago. Also starring in one of the other films is Laurence’s cousin Freddie Fox, Toby Stephens, David Soul, Gary Kemp, Lucy Coho and Con O’Neill. We have some fantastic guest stars and it’s a credit to the production team that they join us for this series.
Laurence Fox is DS James Hathaway
What makes you want to come back to play DS Hathaway every year?
I love working with Kevin and I love the crew. They are the reason I come back each time. Also, it’s high quality drama and I’m proud of it.
Lewis has a loyal fan base. What do you think it is about the show that resonates with fans?
People like to turn on terrestrial television and watch quality shows and I think Lewis is one of them. We manage to give them that every year by working hard at it.
Lewis has performed better than I think anyone working on it imagined and that’s down to Kevin and the other cast and crew. We have a huge loyal following and that is great for everyone involved.
How would you describe Hathaway in this series?
Hathaway is a conflicted character. He’s got cynical yet idealistic qualities and they’re constantly in battle with one another. He’s a watcher of people, an observer, but he isn’t afraid to let people know what he thinks.
He benefits from an Oxbridge education, and is very clever, which complements Lewis. He’s used his education well and its helpful when it comes to solving some of the more convoluted crimes. I learn a lot from the scripts. I have definitely become brighter as a result of playing Hathaway for over six years! In general I think I’m quite different to him, I am more vocal and outgoing, although I’m also probably more insecure.
How would you describe the relationship between Hathaway and Lewis?
When approaching a case, Lewis can see the shades of grey, whereas Hathaway tends to see things in black and white. They work well together – and are a bit like an odd couple. Hathaway has an interest in literature and anything to do with classical history but Lewis is more of an everyman.
What can viewers expect from the new series of Lewis?
There is a slight shift this year. I think the films feel a bit riskier and a little darker. There are a couple of stories that are very up to date and modern. There’s also a bit of action. I love doing scenes with action. It’s great fun and makes a change from the more sedentary aspects of the plot.
One of the films involves Internet dating. It’s a good interesting story. Our modern world feels like a popularity contest dependent on the number of hits or people who have viewed your Internet profile. So it’s very up to date as a story. And it also incorporates cyber bullying, which is something Lewis gets particularly upset about.
There is also a story incorporating fetish photography. I think it’s interesting to look at this modern world and the voyeuristic approach to life. The story also takes us to a laboratory researching the behaviour of monkeys. That element pricks at Hathaway’s anger – the difference between God and man, and dominion over animals. It’s an issue which very strongly affects Hathaway in this story.
Did you like working with the monkeys on set?
I have a sort of innate fear of monkeys that I can’t explain. I didn’t want to go anywhere near them! I had to go in the compound with them at one point but they freaked me out! I’m afraid I’m not a big fan, even though I’m not that scared of animals.
There was a moment when Kevin put his hand on a monkey’s head and the monkey trainer said: ‘Don’t do that if you want to keep your fingers!’ We also weren’t allowed to look them in the eyes; they take it as a threat.
What’s your favourite location to film?
I rather like filming in the Radcliffe Square, or Radcliffe Camera, around that area. Filming in the colleges and in the quads is lovely as well. Its just an incredible place to film. Oxford is a character in it’s own right and keeps the show looking fresh.
Where do you like to go in Oxford when you’re not filming?
I really like the Jericho Tavern. I also do a lot of fishing. I love fishing and go pipe fishing near the unit base. I do feel very blessed to work and, when I’ve got a few hours off, be able to throw a line in the water.
I hope you enjoyed the above. Until next time, take care.