It’s one of those projects that you almost can’t talk about. If I tell you anything substantial about BBC America’s Dramaville: Inside Men it’ll give away the story and the suspsense. But it’s enough to say that Inside Men uses a jigsaw-puzzle narrative approach to tell the story of a trio of cash reserve facility workers who work together to pull off the biggest cash theft in British history. Two of the men, John and Chris — played brilliantly by Steven Mackintosh (Luther) and Ashley Walters (Hustle) — are measured and calculating. The third, Marcus, is impulsive and occasionally stupid — meaning that he’s a risk — but he’s also pretty amusing, as is Warren Brown (Luther), the man who plays him in this dark and ruthlessly compelling series that premieres Wednesday, June 20 at 10pm ET/PT.
“It was kind of a lot of fun to play this character that isn’t necessarily the sharpest knife in the drawer, you know?” Brown says, laughing. “He’s kind of gung-ho and all going at it, but he doesn’t really think it through. One of the things that I kind of really enjoyed about it is that although it is essentially the story of a heist — and we’ve seen heist stories previously — these guys are not criminals. These are just ordinary guys, so they don’t really know what they’re trying to come up against. They just spot an opportunity and they go for it, and it’s just kind of about crossing that moral line, and how far would you go? … But he’s generally a good guy. He’s funny … He’s just kind of thinking about the money and the lifestyle that’s going to change — all the fast cars and everything. I don’t think he understands the severity of what they’re doing.”
But what sets Inside Men above the average heist is that more than the heist itself, it’s about the transformation of its participants — particularly Mackintosh’s character, John, who’s the architect of the master plan, and the one who knows what it’s going to take to pull it off and get away with it, and who’s recklessly driven enough to do it. Without getting into too many details, Brown tries to explain. “He has to do it. I can’t speak for Steven and his character, but I think he’s that desperate to steal this new man — he won’t stop for anything. He’s not scared of anyone. He’s not scared of death. He’s not scared of confrontation, and maybe he doesn’t care about the feelings of others, even to the point that it’s his loved ones that — he’s now playing with their emotions. It’s a massive, massive sacrifice of his.”
Brown, who, when we spoke, was on the cusp of starting Season 3 of the popular series Luther along with his colleague Mackintosh. But after having finished their work on Inside Men, he did take some time off to come to America. “I came to L.A. — I went to the Emmys,” he says. “That was my best time there — had some good fun. And then came back to do a job that was initially called Savage, but is now called Good Cop, about a young beat copper in Liverpool whose best friend is beaten and murdered by a gang, then he’s kind of torn between doing his job or this kind of impulse for revenge, and thinking of going after the guys that killed his friend. … It’s a four-parter, BBC, so with a bit of luck, hopefully that’ll make it, get picked up and be shown on BBC America.”
Brown’s fingers are tightly crossed for that project in particular, as it represents a particular milestone in his television career. “For me, that was certainly so far the biggest thing to happen to date, because I actually play the lead in it,” he explains. “It was called Savage, which, I have to say, because the character’s called Savage, and it kind of mirrors a little bit what happens. His world is kind of thrown upside down and he gets drawn in and drawn in, and drawn in with this kind of revenge feeling to going a bit savage. But the title’s now changed to Good Cop, so we ultimately believe that he’s a good cop that is kind of drawn irrevocably to doing bad things.”
Until then, viewers will have to content themselves with the tight-gripping drama of Inside Men. Believe me — it’s savage enough.
Photo: © BBC/Phil Fisk