Michael Smiley on upcoming Luther movie: “Neil Cross is touched with genius”

Smiley played Benny Silver on the drama until he was dramatically killed off in series five.

Benny Silver (1)

It’s been well over two years since Benny Silver was killed off in dramatic circumstances in the fifth series of Luther, but star Michael Smiley says he’s looking forward to watching the upcoming film project.

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Smiley said that while he has no idea in what direction creator Neil Cross will take the film – which is reportedly set to start shooting later this year – he has full faith in Cross to deliver the goods.

“I don’t know how it’s going to be,” he told RadioTimes.com. “Is it going to take off from where it dropped off? Is it going to be retrospective? Is it going to be another universe? We don’t know.

 “I know that from about the second series onwards, there was talk… I was talking to Idris and it was talk of, you know, we’re going to try and make a film… and Neil was interested in making a film about it.”

He added: “I think whatever way it’s going to be done, I think Neil Cross as a writer is touched with genius, you know. His take on this genre has elevated the genre, I think, in the same way that you watch modern dramas now, you can see that the writer is actually a good writer, they’re not just writing a sort of a trope, you know?”

Reflecting on his exit from the series in 2019 – and the outpouring of public mourning for his character, Smiley said: “I was really touched by it, you know, I was really touched by people’s love for Benny.

“Because he was quite a background character, he was more like the bass player in a band, you know, but he was there, and he was involved and for him to then come out from behind the desk and play a part in that last series, was fun to do to you know, and that was really interesting.

“And to do that scene, was quite lovely,” he continued. “Because again, the way I wanted to do it was maybe slightly bigger, but I was told to actually bring it back and play it more straight and less emotional. So I thought OK, so then we did it and I thought, maybe I would have done it that way.

“But then I watched it on screen and I thought no he’s completely right. It’s exactly how it should be, I get it. It’s about serving the story is the most important thing. Because sometimes we let our egos run away with ourselves, you know, you go I want to do it this way. And really, it’s because I want to look as good as I can on camera, as opposed to let’s serve the story.”

Smiley is set to play the lead character in new black comedy The Toll – which arrives in UK cinemas this Friday and is influenced by a number of films including some classic Westerns.

Asked about the tone of the film, Smiley said: “Well, it wasn’t pitched to me as an idea of we’re going to make a modern Western, it wasn’t that, but it’s obvious those influences are there.

“But it was a bit more a journey in the mind of this bloke, you know, he’s a bloke who’s been doing this job on the remotest toll road in Wales. And he’s been there for years. And he’s been there on his own for years, you know, and he’s been reading this book which is about philosophy, and it’s about war.

“So The Toll was interesting for me in the sense that, you know, a toll road, a toll bridge, but For Whom The Bells Toll as well – that, you know, you can hide all you want, but your past will come up and engage with you at some stage.”

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The Toll is in cinemas and on digital from Friday 27th August 2021. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide