Steve Coogan has said it was an “honour” to star in the upcoming ITV drama Stephen, which tells of the investigation into the racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993.
The factual drama is a follow-up to the landmark 1999 series The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, picking up the story in 2006 as the Lawrence family continue their fight for justice.
Coogan takes on the role of DCI Clive Driscoll, the Metropolitan Police officer who led the investigation and who finally managed to secure convictions for two of Lawrence’s murderers 18 years after the victim’s death.
Asked about how he prepared for the role, the Alan Partridge star told RadioTimes.com and other press that he had a long Zoom conversation with Driscoll and watched as much material as possible in order to “get a sense of who he was”.
“It was an honour to play Clive really because as an actor I don’t often play nice people,” he said. “So it was a nice change for me to play someone who had integrity, simple unannounced integrity, if you like.
“And in some ways really playing a real person, I think, is easier than playing someone where you have to invent,” he added. “Because a real person has lived a real life for you, and they’ve done all the research, all you have to do is sort of honour who they are in the way you play them.
‘And Clive was… he was a very attractive person to play. He has a sense of humour, he doesn’t go around with a sort of shield and sword of truth, he just quietly does his job, and that’s something I thought, ironically, it was nice to celebrate someone who wouldn’t celebrate themselves in this story.”
As for what he hopes viewers will take away from the programme, Coogan said, “I hope that people take away from it that doing the right thing sometimes makes sense, and there are lots of reasons to do the right thing.
“Often people are faced with choices, and choose whatever’s the most expedient, what’s going to reward them. And perhaps if you do the honourable thing, that’s always the best choice, because so many things roll out from that that benefit everyone. So it’s like, being good makes sense.”