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Interview: Jonas Armstrong on Sky Atlantic's Hit & Miss
Jonas Armstrong, star of Sky Atlantic's new drama
In Sky Atlantic's audacious new drama, the life of transgender contract killer Mia (Chloë Sevigny) changes forever when she discovers that she fathered a child with a former partner.
Mia's life is further complicated romantically thanks to Ben who is played by Jonas Armstrong. We had a chat with the actor, who starred in the BBC's Robin Hood, about his bold new series.
What attracted you to Hit & Miss in the first place?
Hit & Miss is written by Sean Conway, one of the country's best writers, so that attracted me straight away. I knew Chloë Sevigny was attached and I think her body of work is amazing. The prospect of working with her on something written by him was brilliant.
When I read the script, and the nature of it, I just thought it so different and original and gritty and raw; it's just something I was really interested in pursuing. I went for the meeting and I was lucky enough to get it.
Tell us about your role in this drama.
I play landscape gardener Ben who meets Mia when she comes into a confrontation with a man. Ben steps in, and she thinks being protective of her is quite a charming thing to do, and a semi-relationship ensues. They go out on a couple of dates, he falls for her and she has to - at some point - tell him about her secret.
She doesn't want the relationship to go any further because she hasn't had the operation yet, at which point Ben doesn't know what to do. He's got conflicting ideas; he doesn't know if this means that he's gay, he doesn't know what's going on. What happens next is they just try to figure out the best way for their relationship to work.
What was it like working with Chloë Sevigny? Did you think beforehand that because she's Hollywood, she would have airs and graces?
Oh no. Not at all. You can never judge someone until you meet them, and the first time I met her, she was lovely. We did rehearsals, and she was very gracious. We talked a lot about the characters; Chloë was great to work with, we got on well from the outset. She was very secure in what we wanted to do, including some of the raunchier scenes.
I would be a bit nervous and she would just be easy and say, 'listen, we'll help you, it's going to be fine'. Some of Hit & Miss is quite graphic so we helped each other through it; she's a lovely actress and she's great to work with.
Jonas Armstrong and Chloë Sevigny, stars of Sky Atlantic's new drama. Image.Sky
This seems to be a good period for British drama, whether it's Sherlock or Downton Abbey or Call The Midwife, and now we've got Hit & Miss. Why do you think drama is on the up?
I don't know exactly, but I think because of all the stuff they do with reality TV, people just got a bit bloody sick of it. I mean with Big Brother and I'm A Celebrity etc. People just want to see good, decent drama where they can sit down as a family and watch something which is written and acted well. Something that actually has good story developments and story plots.
They want to sit down week after week and look forward to it. At the moment, I'm watching Homeland, and that's got British actors in David Harewood - who's a friend of mine - and Damian Lewis. I can't wait for a Sunday where I can sit down and watch that.
You mentioned Damian Lewis and David Harwood, just a couple of British actors who are plying their trade on US television. How tempted are you to join them?
I think it's a case of going over there at the right time. I was talking to my agent earlier on in the year about when would be the right time for me to go over because I was going through a bit of a barren patch at the time. I don't think I'd done anything in about four months. He said: 'listen Jonas, your work's going to come along soon.'
I was very close to jobs, and then just not getting them. This year might be the right time for me to have a go because there's a lot of Brits going over there and somebody has to get these parts. With Hit & Miss, if it does do well in the states because of Chloë's profile, it might be the right time for me to go over.
Some British actors have perfected a sort of generic American accent, have you been practicing ?
It's always been something I've been able to do anyway. You've just got to brush up before you go into the meetings. If you've got a good ear for accents, you're OK and I think mine's fine.
What are you hoping viewers take away from Hit & Miss?
I hope it's something they'll watch and think: 'wow! I wasn't expecting that'. I hope they'll list it as one of the most original things that's been on British television. If they think it's too much, they might switch off. But if they've got any sort of balls about them, they'll sit down and watch it. And honestly, they'd thoroughly enjoy it because there's nothing like it at the moment.