We caught up with Jack Whitehall co-writer of Bounty Hunters, the new comedy thriller on Sky One, to ask him about how the series came about and what it was like working with Robert Lindsay and Rosie Perez.
So tell us about the show?
We set out to write a comedy thriller that had a compelling story. Growing up, mine and Freddy’s favourite films were ones like the Coen brothers’, so we were inspired by those in terms of the tone. My character, Barnaby Walker, is the son of an antiques dealer who unwittingly purchases a statue that has been looted from Syria. In order to try to get his money back, he enlists the help of Nina (played by Rosie Perez), who’s a tough New York bounty hunter. The series is about their story.
Barnaby and Nina’s relationship is a big part of the series, isn’t it?
Yes, they are sort of the odd couple. We had a lot of fun writing the scenes with Barnaby and Nina together. It’s a very unique dynamic because they are so different. Nina is from a tough background and she’s street-smart, kick-ass and hard as nails. Barnaby is wet, shy and apologetic for his mere existence. She wears her heart on her sleeve while Barnaby is quite emotionally repressed. They are thrust together but they are very much chalk and cheese.
Are there any similarities between you and Barnaby?
He has a nervousness that I think I have a bit of in real life. Also, he gets irate and he loses his temper, but he’s not very good at it. That’s quite me as well.
Would you say you were perhaps more Barnaby than JP or Alfie Wickers?
I think with all of these characters, there is an element of you in them.
The series has plenty of action scenes. Did you enjoy filming them?
They were really fun. We wanted to write a show that had a lot of scale and was very ambitious. There are over 120 locations and lots of action set pieces. These are homages to some of our favourite genre movies and 80s films. There was quite a bit of stunt work and a big fight sequence and a car chase. But I wasn’t allowed to do that because I can’t drive.
Do you think the challenges you do on A League of Their Own helped prepare you for the stunts?
Yes, I am pretty fearless now… and stupid.
Do you have a favourite line or a scene from the show?
My favourite sequence is in episode three. There’s a fight in a lift and Barnaby and Nina have to dispose of a body. It’s really farcical. They decide that one of them is going to have to dress up as a maid. Barnaby suggests that it would be Nina but Nina just goes off on one and starts attacking him because of his privilege. They have a massive argument over the dead body in a maid’s closet. It made me laugh so much.
Barnaby has to take on a lot of different roles. He winds up as a Russian masseuse at one point, too, doesn’t he?
He certainly does get put through the wringer. He goes on quite a journey…
How did you go about choosing the cast for the show?
I’ve wanted to work with Robert Lindsay for a while so we wrote the dad with him in mind. We were so pleased when he came on board. He’s such a good actor and has had an amazing career in dramatic acting, comedy, stage and screen. Then, Charity blew everyone away in her audition. Her character is a hard one to play. On the page, it’s quite an out-there character – she was so good.
Are any of the characters based on real people?
Rosie’s family are. We read her book and we spoke to her a lot. Maria’s character is based on one of Rosie’s relatives, who converted to Judaism. We thought it would be funny if Nina had this Puerto Rican mother who wanted to be all ‘Jews for Jesus’ and keeps speaking in Yiddish. There are other characters that are loosely based on people we know too.
Why did you set it in Wimbledon?
We wanted it to be set in an iconic place. We were trying to think of somewhere that was the complete opposite of Brooklyn and it seemed right. We also wanted to link in the Wimbledon Championships. We actually shot it in Notting Hill.
The series jets between Brooklyn, Mexico and Wimbledon. Does Nina make a better road trip buddy than your A League of Their Own friends?
Yes, I think Nina would look after me more.But if I got into trouble like Barnaby the first person I would call would be my mother. She’s definitely the first person I would go to. She always knows what to do in a tricky situation.
In the series, Barnaby finds £50,000 stashed inside an ornamental fox head. Where would you have hidden the cash?
Under the bed.
Can you describe yourself in just a few words?
An enigma wrapped up in a riddle.
Is there any advice you would give your 15-year-old self?
Don’t die your hair blonde. Or shave into your eyebrow.
Why do you think people will enjoy Bounty Hunters?
There are so many series on TV and there is Jack Whitehall “I think you’ll care about the characters and be intrigued and interested by the story. And, it’s funny. I am very proud of it ”
You can catch Bounty Hunters on Wednesdays at 10.00pm on Sky1 and NOW TV.