Boardwalk Empire’s Stephen Graham always searches for the humanity in his characters, he tells Laura Davis
FORGET Academy Awards judges or film critics. Stephen Graham gets his best feedback from the women in his local Co-op. They deliver their analyses of his latest performance when he calls in to buy bread for his childrens’ packed lunches.
It was a big Co-op thumbs up for The Accused, Jimmy McGovern’s latest BBC series in which Graham plays married satellite engineer Tony who falls for vivacious transvestite Tracie.
As well as giving us man’s man Sean Bean in full make-up and a dress, it was an extremely gentle performance from the Liverpool-born actor more used to playing gangsters and thugs.
“One of the women came up to me and said ‘I loved that last night, it was very different to what you normally do. But you still killed someone didn’t you’,” he laughs.
“When Jimmy said he wanted Sean Bean to play the part of Tracie, I was like ‘wow, okay’.
“And he was like, ‘I just think it would be really great for him to play that role and people would look at him in a different way – and he’s also got a great set of legs’.”
It was the script, by Liverpool writer Sean Duggan, that attracted Graham to the role of Tony. That and the chance to play a totally different character.
The director’s name also plays a strong part in his decision to take on a project.
“Whether it’s a big role or a small role, you’re in a very privileged place where you can come into someone’s living room for an hour or whatever and have their attention,” says Graham, 39.
“I feel it’s important to be a part of telling good stories and hopefully doing work that can make people think.”