James Norton has revealed that he had some difficulties going from playing psychopathic Tommy Lee Royce in Happy Valley to clergyman-detective Sidney Chambers in Grantchester.
“It was quite a gear change,” says the actor. “The two projects were back to back. I did Happy Valley, then I had just a week’s grace before doing Grantchester. So there was a month where I was playing Tommy in the daytime and going home to prepare to play a vicar. I kept desperately trying not to mix the two up. In fact, when I started Grantchester, I was quite tempted to have a few moments where Sidney turns to the camera in a psycho way.”
Norton won critical plaudits for playing Tommy in the BBC1 crime drama, but admits that taking on the role proved to be disconcerting.
“Tommy was very different to me, luckily,” continues Norton. “His view of the world was incredibly depressing and it was horrible to be in his headspace. The filming of Happy Valley was amazing, but it was a weird, strange place to be. Sidney, on the hand, has some self-doubt but he essentially looks for the best in people and sees the world as a benign place. It was lovely to come out of the darkness of Tommy and into the light of Sidney.”
However, the shooting of Grantchester did find onlookers recognising Norton for his less-than-virtuous part in the Sarah Lancashire-starring series. “You inevitably got members of the public watching the filming of Grantchester and occasionally I could see people who were looking at me, thinking, ‘Where have I seen him before?’ Then the penny dropped and they would go, ‘you’re the psychopath!'”
Grantchester begins on Monday 6 October on ITV at 9pm. You can see a promo for the series below: