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The Gentlemen Cast Talk Guy Ritchie’s New Series

9 min read

Netflix

Taking the architecture of his gangster hit  from 2019, returns to the world of drug lords and high-society criminality for his miniseries of the same name.

Delving deeper into the mythology across eight episodes, the series follows Eddie Horniman () who unexpectedly inherits his father's sizeable country estate — only to discover it's part of a cannabis empire. But when a myriad of unsavoury characters from Britain's criminal underworld want a piece of the operation, Eddie has to step up to defend what his father built. Determined to extricate his family from their clutches, Eddie tries to play the gangsters at their own game.

Joining James in the leading role is a star-studded ensemble featuring the likes of , , Vinnie Jones, Joely Richardson, Daniel Ings, and Michael Vu. Ahead of the show's debut on Netflix, the cast sat down with FILMHOUNDS to discuss working with Guy Ritchie and just what it takes to make it in the world of high-society criminality.

First of all, I want to say congrats on the show. I thought it was really something special. I want to ask about how you get involved with this — are you familiar with the film and does that make it any easier or harder to say yes?

RAY WINSTONE: No I'm not familiar with the film. I purposefully didn't really want to watch it because you want to make it your own. I will watch it at some point but we've done this and I'm in the flow so it didn't really influence me at all. I think what influenced me was the meeting I had with Guy and reading the script and understanding it was going to be a little bit different from anything I'd done before — it's quite heightened, what he does with his characters, and so it was good for me to go and do something different.

KAYA SCODELARIO: Yeah I'd seen the film before before I knew this was going to be a project, and then when I heard about it I was actually really interested in it. I went after it more than I had anything else before I wanted to do something British. I really wanted to come back to the UK and work here for a little bit. I wanted to experience working with Guy Ritchie and I loved the world of it and the idea of there being quite a strong female character in the centre of it and what we could do with that. I thought that was different to what we've seen in his work before which I was quite excited about.

THEO JAMES: Was familiar with the film. Definitely. Loved Guy's work. His early work had a massive impression on me as a late teen but this is so different from the film. It's set in the world [of The Gentlemen] so it has the architecture of its DNA but, in terms of story, it's completely different and that was the main thing that drew me to it. The idea of the gentleman being this man who comes reluctantly from high society, a completely different world to that of criminality and then gets seduced by the violence, that was really cool.

JOELY RICHARDSON: I hadn't seen the film. I saw the film after we finished. I think Guy Richie, the producers, the Peaky Blinders vibe, it was that whole combo that had me already sold. 

VINNIE JONES: Old mates so yeah he would text me and he said I've got this movie or this TV show and I was like yeah okay.

DANIEL INGS: I saw the movie like everyone else did when it came out in the first lockdown, maybe just before. I love the movie. I love all those actors in it and that classic gangster world that only Guy can do in this way. So, yeah, it was intimidating but also I think this this show stands on its its own two feet because it's so different. It has a slightly different tone and feel and it's different characters so it was fun to take the DNA and the the germ of the idea from the movie but explore it in a different way that kind of respects and leaves that. But if you love the movie, I think you'll love the show.

MICHAEL VU: I didn't get to watch the film when it was released because I have four children and the only thing that plays on my TV is CBeebies but when I got the job, I definitely ran it back and watched it with the misses. Very cool film. At that stage, this was very early so I wasn't sure where they were going to go with the TV series then when I got the script and looked at it, I was like”This is really cool.” I would say it's completely different but still keeps the vein of the movie. I can't wait for those who enjoyed the movie to see the TV series.

These characters, the high society and this criminal underworld, it's all very far removed from our own reality. What kind of preparation are you doing to get into that mindset and into that world, if any at all?

VINNIE: Mine is “If any at all.”

JOELY: Can I answer for you? He is a gamekeeper. He went into it right out of school, when he was very young so he knew and loved that world.

VINNIE: And still loves that world so, yeah, that was right up my street. Yours was different, wasn't it?

JOELY: I didn't really do any research because it's an invented world and Guy wanted it posher and more eccentric so I kind of found it on the floor as it were. And Guy loves his rewrite so you'd arrive and he'd give you a new version of the scene anyway. Then meeting the other actors… I can't remember if there was a read through.

VINNIE: There was. I didn't go.

JOELY: Getting to know Theo James, Kaya, the leads and so then it was seeing the world and all the different characters through these new eyes and that's another great thing about Guy Richie productions, he always gets such a great group of people together.

RAY: You know being a straight man going to work — you can't afford to have a life like that, so to have this nice big house you have to do some criminality somewhere along the lines. You know what I mean? Otherwise you're going to get nothing because they're not going to give you fuck all. All they do is take.

KAYA: You can take little bits of all these characters from everyday people as well you know. There's enough of them in there. You'll have a scene that's extremely violent and scary one moment but then they're also telling a joke two minutes later and cuddling their kids. The relationship with father and daughter is quite universal and we try and show that on the show. Eddie's relationship with his family and then our family. It's kind of a story of two families at the core of it and that's quite easy to tap into.

THEO: Shanking people. Massacres. You know, the idea is that this is a relatively moral man. He's a soldier and he comes back to his family seat and he unwittingly skips his brother who's the older and inherits the estate, so that was the world I needed to dive into. It was fascinating for me because I've never met anyone in that world. I've never had any experience of it but finding out that there are still 14 Dukes or whatever like the Duke of Beauford who owns the seat that we filmed at, that's his family seat and then you Google him and he's highly eccentric and has inherited wealth over many, many generations. At one point they owned a huge part of Wales so, historically, that's kind of fascinating. It's also fascinating in a world where Britain isn't a top dog anymore. It's far from it post-Brexit, post-1950s, post-1980s. The Empire has crumbled but there are still the vestiges of that in these high echelons of society and how that shapes our understanding of what it is to be British.

MICHAEL: For me, Jimmy Chang's character isn't actually a posh toff. He's more like the help, the philosopher poet so I guess it was a lot easier to slide into my role. There was elements that I drew from my personal life as a father so it came really easily.

Netflix

Touching upon the father daughter dynamic, do you have a bit of time to build that rapport beforehand?

RAY: We just fell into it.

KAYA: Yeah. Fell into it. We got lucky.

RAY: Sometimes it just happens like that. And you don't get time sometimes for that so as actors, you got to find that and understand it and trust one another a little bit and open up to one another that was pretty easy here.

KAYA: We found a good rhythm together which is nice and you never know because it could have been very awkward.

RAY: Don't push it.

KAYA: No not at all. We fell into it quite nicely.

Daniel, what's the art of taking cocaine on screen?

DANIEL: The art of it, I love that. Make sure you blow your nose in between takes. What I will say is it's hard to do whilst wearing a chicken hood. There's a moment where my character is taking drugs dressed as a chicken.

MICHAEL: Was the beak a problem? 

DANIEL: The beak would cause a problem, yeah. We had to just embrace it so we racked up a little line there for the for the beak as well.

For yourself Kaya and Theo, there is that scene where Freddy (Daniel Ings) is in a chicken suit dancing. Is it hard to keep a straight face when you're watching that? It's a very serious moment for the character but it looks quite comical.

KAYA: We shot it over two episodes. It's at the end of episode 1 and at the beginning of episode 2 so we spent twice as much time on it as you normally would and, at first, it's kind of funny. We thought it was going to be silly but it very quickly gets quite dark and intense and I just really admired Dan's balls with it. He really goes for it and he took himself to a really dark place. The scene evolved on the day as well. At first it was going to be a little bit sillier and then that darkness very naturally came into it and he ran with that and I think it was a great choice because it makes it a lot more nuanced, a lot more interesting. It was fantastic. I was in awe of his energy level. I was exhausted just watching it so, yeah, it was a cool scene to be a part of.

THEO: I mean you can't ever keep a straight face when Dan's around because he's constantly throwing out shit in the best possible way. Yeah, we didn't understand how that scene was going to go down honestly because on the page there wasn't as much detail. But Guy, he likes to feel the vibe and energy on the set and adapt to it in the moment. And what it became was this very dark kind of chicken snuff movie and that was hilarious and effective um but you don't exactly know how it's going to unfold in the moment and and some of that is the joy of working with Guy, it's very off the cuff.

You're working in these opulent manors with this decadent production design. It must be quite surreal walking onto set and being in that environment.

JOELY: It's pretty amazing when you pitch up to Badminton House. That place is extraordinary and you think “Wow we're filming here.” Freezing cold those houses.

VINNIE: Glamorous on the outside, freezing on the inside.

THEO: What was most helpful in a funny way was having Mr. Lawrence, who's our butler. I think Guy has a butler. But the idea that… You know, Guy said on the first day, I got out of the car as a character and I went to get my baggage and he was like “No no no, you don't do that you you let the butler do it.” In fact, to do it is an insult to your staff so learning those kind of pieces of cultural understanding of the upper class was fascinating.

 

The Gentlemen is streaming on Netflix now.