Peaky Blinders star Joe Cole is returning to mobster drama with new Sky Atlantic series Gangs of London, but insists that the contemporary thriller is a world away from his old show.
Cole, who played the ill-fated John Shelby on Peaky Blinders, fronts the Sky series as Sean Wallace, son of a powerful crook (Colm Meaney) whose assassination creates a sudden power vacuum in London’s criminal underworld.
“I think it’s not been seen before, it’s something new and different,” the actor told RadioTimes.com. “It’s a modern-day, heightened, contemporary gang show set in a pretty crazy London that we haven’t seen before – expect a lot of drama, a lot of violence and a lot of fun!”
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Though there are surface similarities, Cole said that Gangs of London feels “quite different” to the BBC’s Peaky Blinders, on which he appeared from 2013 to 2017.
“The similar thing is how it’s a gang and it follows a family at the centre of it, a crime family, so there are some similarities but I think it’s very new, fresh,” he said. “I honestly don’t think that we’ve seen this in television before. I’m very excited for people to see it.”
Gangs was co-created by filmmaker Gareth Evans, best known for directing 2011 Indonesian action film The Raid and its 2014 sequel – but while the series will feature some spectacular fight sequences, star Cole warned against expecting wall-to-wall action like The Raid delivered.
“I was a big fan of Gareth’s, I loved The Raid, I think he’s one of the most talented filmmakers in his particular genre,” Cole said.
“[This show] has elements of action, but there’s more to it. The Raid, the entire thing was action, [but] this has a family dynamic, drama, there’s characters, real emotions… that’s why I got on board.”
Joe Cole in Peaky BlindersBBC
With his new show hopefully keeping him busy for the foreseeable, Cole said that he doesn’t see a Peaky Blinders comeback in his future – granted, his character was apparently fatally shot by rival gangsters, but then we thought Tom Hardy’s Alfie Solomons had likewise been gunned down and he survived a bullet to the head…
Don’t expect a similarly miraculous resurrection for John Shelby though. “I think it’s hard to come back from that,” Cole says. “So I’m not sure!”