David Schwimmer returns for the second season of Intelligence / Picture Credit: Sky
David Schwimmer returns for the second season of Intelligence / Picture Credit: Sky

He was one sixth of TV's version of The Beatles in his roll as Ross Geller in Friends, but David Schwimmer only wanted to talk about the return of his Sky One show Intelligence when Female First caught up with him.

The quirky comedy drama - written by Nick Mohamed - was a big hit with viewers when it aired last year, with life inside Britain's secret intelligence service at GCHQ proving to be a perfect platform for humour.

Swchimmer plays the role of maverick former-NSA agent Jerry Bernstein, alongside his hapless junior analyst Joseph Harries (Mohammed), with the uncomfortable humour drawing comparisons to Ricky Gervais' classic, The Office.

Here, Schwimmer tells Female First about the reasons why he did the show and his love of all things British.

You seem to love Britain and even use some British phrases when you speak. You must have spent a lot of time here?

I love British comedy and always have done. Some of the best physical comedy actors have come from the UK and when Nick sent me the script for this show Intelligence, it had me laughing on every page. I guess I have always had a real love for British humour. Also, I've been in and out of the UK now for about 20 years working and also I have family there and very, very good friends. So, I've picked up maybe too much.

Tell us about shooting Season 2 of Intelligence during lockdown...

This was a tough shoot for me personally. It was tough on everyone in terms of Covid but I was also unfortunate because I was dealing with an ear injury and I had to take different medications just to be able to get through shooting without real pain and discomfort at times. And looking back on it I just so appreciated Nick was – as an actor, as the writer, the executive producer and as a friend – so sympathetic and supportive.

Picture Credit: Sky
Picture Credit: Sky

How did you injure your ear?

I was trying to make my daughter laugh. We'd been visiting people who had a place with a pool that we were allowed to use, with social distancing and all of that, so we took advantage of it. I was standing at the edge of the pool and wanted to make her laugh so I did a kind of dead fall into the pool and I slammed my ear at such a perfect angle that I immediately ruptured my eardrum, and I gave myself an inner ear concussion.

Has it healed now?

That first issues was resolved in about six weeks, but then a whole new condition migrated into both ears and gave me a combination of tinnitus and something called hyperacusis. It's finally just on its way out now. It's been seven months. It's crazy. I have bad days and good days. The thing that bothers it the most is talking. So, if I talk too much and at significant volume, it generates the ringing. That's why being that character, who's pretty loud, was challenging at times.

Where do we find your character Jerry at the start of season two?

He's in further pursuit of power and trying to work his way up the ladder as much as he can. Maybe he's harbouring some secret fantasy of running for president, he certainly thinks very highly of himself and believes he should be in charge of pretty much everything. As Nick said, we find him pursuing anything that will elevate his status and give him more power. But at the same time there's a real attachment, a bromance forming between Jerry and Joseph. Jerry's feelings and real friendship for Joseph, are growing deeper, I think.

You have not done too much comedy acting since Friends, so why did you agree to do this?

What I love about this show is that it hits on so many comedic levels. It's great dialogue, just great written word, great jokes, great situation comedy. And it's character- driven more than anything, but then there's all this physical comedy. It's firing on so many different levels. As an actor, I just love physical comedy, so to have an opportunity to play some of those scenes, especially with Nick, is just a joy.

Your character Jerry makes comments that may not be considered politically correct in the modern world. Do you feel bad when you insult your cast members?

The supposed 'victims' of Jerry's comments; we never really feel they're injured. We feel that Jerry is an idiot or a buffoon – the racist, sexist, homophobic man in this situation. For me it's cathartic because I've been around these jokes in different settings. And I feel like for a lot of men in power, these behaviours and these attitudes persist, and so it's quite cathartic to be able to play that guy.

All episodes of Intelligence are available on Sky One and NOW.

Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer.

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