Created by Golden Globe-winning showrunner Frank Spotnitz alongside award-winning writer David Vainola, Ransom is a brand new primetime thriller, set to bring nail-biting suspense and incredible drama to the small screen when it makes its British debut tonight (June 5) on Universal Channel. We got the chance to chat to lead star of the show Luke Roberts, to find out a little bit more about the series, what we should expect from his character and more…

Luke Roberts stars as Eric Beaumont in Ransom

Luke Roberts stars as Eric Beaumont in Ransom

What can you tell us about new series Ransom and the character you play, Eric Beaumont?

Ransom is a procedural drama with a serialised thread that follows an elite team of crisis negotiators as they are parachuted onto the front line of danger zones, where traditional agencies of law enforcement have failed or are simply unwelcome.

My character, Eric Beaumont, is the lead negotiator who, with the assistance of his hand-picked team, understands his adversaries better than they understand themselves. The team typically formulate the strategy while Eric implements it – with a healthy amount of latitude since circumstances can change very fast and must be adapted to. And Eric has an almost preternatural ability to read and respond to those changes often under extreme pressure. His approach is highly focused and often unorthodox. I guess he’s pretty heroic. Of course, his calm demeanour will be tested! As Laurent Combalbert – French negotiator and the inspiration for my character – says: ‘emotion is good, but second emotion – i.e., anxiety, panic, the impulse to retaliate etc., must be kept at bay to be effective and bring people home safely. Of course, like the best heroes, Eric has a traumatic past that threatens to destabilise his commitment to non-violence and the safe passage of all the victims and indeed his adversaries. And this is eked out through the series, particularly in relation to Sarah Greene’s character, Maxine, who Eric recruits primarily to challenge him, second guess his decisions and generally keep him sharp.

Eric’s powers of persuasion are also met with stiff resistance from the ladies in his private life, who understand him better than he understands himself! They so have his number! And if he has a flaw, it’s that he struggles to switch off his professional mode. That’s not to say he’s an automaton. As a negotiator he has to be mercurial and personable to win the hearts and minds of his adversaries. So with a bit of luck we’ve invested him with a good amount of natural, or is it calculated charm?!

How does Ransom differ to the other thriller shows available on television nowadays?

While the show often pits the team against criminal elements, unlike traditional law enforcement procedurals, they are dedicated to a peaceful resolution above all else. It’s also about saving lives. The aim of the heroes is to de-escalate the crisis. It is not to persecute and prosecute the criminals, but simply preserve life on all sides. This is an interesting grey moral area and sometimes brings Eric and his team into direct conflict with the police themselves. But as Laurent Combalbert told me, ‘conflict is good’. It’s where two opposing ideas clash to produce a third idea. The fact we have Lauren and his colleague Marwan as consultants on the show gives it enormous authenticity, credibility and scope. They have many, many stories!

Visually, Ransom has been beautifully rendered by our Canadian and French Directors of Photography respectively. It has the feel of a Michael Mann movie at times, employing some great visual effects to get into the mind of Eric as he analyses the situation from the eye of the storm. We’re particularly fond of the slow-mo shots when Eric is having some kind of meditative epiphany.

The actor stars alongside Nazneen Contractor
The actor stars alongside Nazneen Contractor

The show’s created by renowned showrunner Frank Spotnitz and written by David Vainola; what have they been like to work with?

There’s a heavy element of mystery in this show, and there is no one better than X-Files alumnus and master showrunner Frank Spotnitz to incrementally amp up the tension. Moreover, he and co-creator David Vainola really understand the exigences of network TV shows in terms of pacing and identifiable motifs. Both were so clear-sighted, communicative and supportive throughout filming. Great guys. And we haven’t even got to the incredible ladies at Sienna Films and Wildcats!

There’s also a huge talented cast involved with Ransom, so what was the chemistry like on the set of the show?

The chemistry within the cast was there from day one and the numerous international producers were unanimous in their excitement about the way the team gels on-screen. Much to our collective relief! That’s the challenge of TV acting and certainly on procedurals. You have to step on-set and interact with total strangers as if you’ve been colleagues for years. Easy with Sarah Greene, Nazneen Contractor and Brandon Jay McLaren who are so skilled and were so present, even when my character waffles on for hours at a time! I loved working with each of them because they have a magical blend of experience, ability and utter irreverence – which is just what you need when you spend hours together staring at an invisible point on an imaginary virtual evidence board that will be added in post!

You’ve been involved in big projects in the past such as TV series Reign and Pirates of the Caribbean, so how does working on Ransom compare to your previous work?

Playing a fast-talking contemporary American in Ransom was a very welcome change from a string of roles in costume dramas over the last few years. Verbally, it’s just fun to have a looser style of delivery. I do miss the swords and horses though. And maybe the corsets…

Luke Roberts promises some tense and addictive television
Luke Roberts promises some tense and addictive television

Having starred in both TV and film, how do the two mediums compare? Do you have a favourite?

I grew up in a golden age of film so imagined or rather dreamed that I would work in that medium. Things have changed to a degree. TV is enjoying a rembarkable renaissance. Practically, film is much slower to shoot than TV. While TV schedules can be gruelling, I personally enjoy the adrenaline rush and the ever-evolving characters and storylines. I look forward to the thud of that Manilla envelope hitting my doormat and seeing what ways the producers have decided to twist my character. It’s a great privilege to work in television, especially now that it attracts such international talent – particularly in the writing department.

What are some of your favourite shows right now?

I don’t watch enough TV to give a balance opinion – there’s so much of it now! But I’ve certainly been enjoying Westworld, where two of my favourite movie actors reign supreme, and Bosch. I always enjoyed McConnelly’s crime novels. Just started The Crown too, which seems very promising.

Ransom makes its UK premiere tonight (June 5) at 9pm on Universal Channel.

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