Fresh from a stellar stint in Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty, Stephen Graham is wowing audiences once more in his new Channel 4 venture, The Virtues.
Teaming up again with This is England writer Shane Meadows (who previously cast Graham as the thuggish Combo in the 2006 film), Graham stars as Joseph; a man struggling with addiction who is pushed to breaking point when his ex-partner moves herself and their son to Australia to start a new life.
As Joseph heads to Ireland to reunite with his sister, things take another turn when he meets a figure who forces him to confront repressed trauma from his past.
As Graham tackled another meaty role – based on Meadows’s real life experiences – fans took to Twitter to praise his performance in the dark and difficult drama.
Others were so impressed by Graham’s moving performance that they called for the actor to receive a Bafta in 2020.
The Virtues is made all the more poignant as the basis of the series is Meadows’s own experience of abuse as a child.
“I’d been through something in my childhood that I didn’t realise had happened until I got to about 40,” Meadows, who is now 46, said at the premiere of The Virtues.
“I got to the bottom of this thing that had happened in my life as a kid, and I had fragmented memories. The very basis, the acorn of Joseph’s journey, was borne out of something that happened to me as a kid.”
Graham told RadioTimes.com that he felt an “obligation” to portray such a sensitive issue correctly – and often became very emotional during filming.
“As an actor, you’re always here to find truth in everything you do, but especially with this you have an obligation because it’s happened to a lot of people: a lot of people have had that sensitive issue of abuse, so you do have this duty of care to tell the story properly, truthfully and honestly,” he said.
“I don’t mind saying it and I’m sure Shane doesn’t – there was many a time when we had a good cry on set just after we’d done a take.”
The Virtues continues Wednesdays at 9pm on Channel 4