Kerr Logan spoke to David Hennessy about his part in the new book adaptation The Killing Kind, why he would love to do comedy and theatre again and visiting both Westeros and punk Belfast with Liam Cunningham.
Kerr Logan stars with Emma Appleton and Colin Morgan in Paamount +’s adaptation of award-winning crime author Jane Casey’s The Killing Kind.
The Killing Kind tells the story of barrister Ingrid Lewis (Appleton) who defends a man on a charge of stalking only to become stalked herself. She suspects it is her former boyfriend John Webster, played by Morgan, who is making her life a misery but he says he is the one looking out for her when the sudden death of Ingrid’s friend Belinda causes her to descend into paranoia. Kerr plays Detective Luke Nash who wants to help Ingrid and also put Webster behind bars.
Born in the Bangor area of Northern Ireland, Kerr grew up in Lancashire. His early credits include playing Matthos Seaworth in Game of Thrones, playing Feargal Sharkey in Terri Hooley biopic Good Vibrations. He played Conor in Lisa McGee’s pre-Derry Girls sitcom London Irish.
More recently you may have seen him in Showtrial or playing an IRA character in The Spectacular, based on true events. The last time The Irish World interviewed Kerr, it was in 2020 and he was playing Conall Malloy in the Michael Smiley-led undertaker drama, Dead Still.
Luke could not be more different from Conall. Conall was well meaning but just a young man or even a boy while Luke sees Kerr taking on a notably more mature role.
“I’ve been quite lucky really,” Kerr tells The Irish World. Every job I get I seem to be playing someone completely different, good or bad and I get all these mad jumps in character which is a lot of fun to play really, and I’m just very lucky that I get to explore very, very different sides of my own kind of personality and characters that I’m able to kind of get access to. It’s a lot of fun.”
“He is [a more mature role] and you know what? My two children have done a great job of ageing me rapidly over the last four years. My face resembles a spiderweb more than it ever used to. There’s lots of cracks in my face now and I definitely blame the two boys for that.”
How did you first hear of the project?
“Well, I had heard maybe a year before we went into production. I had recently done a job called Showtrial with the director Zara Hayes and we just got on very, very, very well. I think we both really sparked off each other in the way that we both work and the way that we approach text and drama and stuff, so she had actually – very kindly of her – had me in mind that she wanted to work with me again.
“I think she had said whenever they first looked to adapt Jane’s novel, that they always had me in mind to play this character of Luke which was very sweet and I was very humbled by that.
“So she gave me a ring saying, ‘Look, I think the show’s definitely going to go ahead towards the end of the year, are you interested?’
“And of course, once I read the character and saw they were taking it away from Jane’s book – They used Jane’s words as a starting block and then working closely with her, we sort of changed it for television to make it a bit more fast paced and, and exciting.
“But I kind of came on board after I kind of got hold of that character and realised, ‘Gosh, he’s actually a very, very, very complex individual’. And with any of these crime thrillers, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the story so you know that at certain points reading the script, the audience has to doubt my character.
“But it was a lot of fun trying to get under the skin of what that ambiguity means and why characters can come across ambiguous but mean something completely different. And just from a dramaturgical point of view, it’s just a really good challenge to be able to play these characters that aren’t necessarily black and white.
“They’re much more complex humans and people in real life do very good and pretty bad things. It doesn’t mean that they’re all good or they’re all bad. It was working with Zara again because I think she’s amazing as a director, and I hope she will employ me again, of course.
“And it was just to take on the challenge of playing this character of Luke, because I knew it would be kind of a difficult prospect to take on the character and to try and play him as truthfully and as properly as I could.”
The show rests on Emma Appleton who is already being lauded for her performance. It is all on her shoulders, isn’t it?
“It is. In Jane’s book, it’s all seen through Ingrid’s mindset, and her mind’s eye and how she interacts with characters so Zara and her amazing director of photography Matt Grey came up with a concept which is very unusual for screen, that the camera never, ever, ever, ever will leave Emma’s character.
“I think there might be one scene that Emma is not in which is incredibly unusual for a television program, and a lot rides on her shoulders. That’s why she does such an amazing job with it. She really was having to live and breathe that character for the three and a half months that we were shooting at Bristol.
“Bless her: Every time I saw her upset, I just had to give her a big hug and check she was okay because she was kind of being stalked and harassed every single day of her life for three and a half months, so she needed a few cuddles every time I came to set anyway to make sure that she was alright.”
You have a frosty dynamic with Colin Morgan’s Webster, what was it like to create that? “It’s funny actually, because in the series, I think our characters only actually meet twice. We only actually had two scenes to work together. We kind of build up this complete enemy vibe with each other but actually never get to meet each other.”
“Your job again as the actor is to kind of portray that deep hatred and the audience, as the show goes on, realise why these characters don’t particularly like each other. What’s hilarious is I’m about to actually start a new job working with Colin again. It’s hysterical, what a small world.”
You had never worked together before, had you?
“Never and now it’s going to be twice in one year.”
It’s very much his hatred of Webster that drives Luke, isn’t it? It is also thanks to Ingrid that he couldn’t put him behind bars when he had the chance..
“I think because of something that’s happened in Luke’s personal life, he’s got an incredibly astute, possibly quite obsessive moral compass between what is right and what is wrong. So he’s very, very black and white in that regard personally but also in his job.
“What the police are allowed to do, I think, can be very frustrating because they have to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is and do everything very, very by the book where someone like Ingrid’s character can choose whether she withholds information or whether she completely divulges everything in a case in order to win that particular case for our client.
“So there are moral grey areas for Ingrid’s character, but for my character, he’s very, very black and white, everything needs to be on the nose. And so that’s why- even though they’re aiming for the same goal- they go about it in very, very different ways professionally and personally.”
You say how different the series is from the book, did you read the original book or would that have been unhelpful?
“I always like to read the book. Novel adaptations are very, very difficult to do because sometimes if you stick very rigidly to how the characters portray the story in the books, you kind of deny yourself a lot of natural interaction between people and your own instincts of how a character influences you to then take the character further. Because of course when you read something on a page, everyone fills in what they think the character is, and what they look like.
“No matter how you play a character from a novel, you’re always going to disappoint someone because someone would have seen my character as being older, or someone would have seen my character as being scarier, but then the next person would have seen the character younger, and the complete opposite of that.
“So you kind of have to just take Jane’s words, and then let that influence you and then accept the dynamics between me and Colin that we have as people and then the interactions and the dynamics that me and Emma have as people, and you then create something that is for more of a visual medium that is television because audiences are genuinely seeing the relationships between people so that has to all live and play very truthfully.
“I always like to read the novel anyway, and see what that character does to me and where my starting block is. Then once you start working with a director and the actors, see how that changes and it kind of becomes this truly organic process of character creation then but having an amazing foundation of Jane’s words. Anytime we’re not doing a book adaptation, you kind of miss having such a bible of influence really.”
Jane wasn’t around set too much but did you get to hear how pleased she was with it?
“She’s been very, very sweet. And it’s so nice to have another good couple of Irish people on any production, EVERY PRODUCTION NEEDS THEM. My character changed and altered and did actually go away from what Jane had originally written, but she came to me at the premiere actually and just said how much she thought it really, really works and how much she loved what I did which was very, very, very sweet.
“Because it’s always incredibly nerve wracking when you’re taking someone’s character and doing something different. You have to be quite brave as an actor and just go for it.”
Would you like to return to it? Obviously there is only one book but if they had an idea for a second series.
“I would absolutely adore to see another series because the series that we made was so kind of conceptual in the way it’s made, all being seen through one character’s eyes. If Jane ever wrote another one or she just kind of helped production just with some ideas…
“I don’t know how you would go about doing a second series but there’s lots of options as to what you could potentially do with a story like that so it would be really interesting and I, of course, would absolutely love to do it again. Who wouldn’t?”
You grew up in Bangor until you were 12 and made the move to Lancashire, is that right? How was that?
“Grand, we sort of grew up between Bangor and Belfast. My mum and my immediate family. We all came over then to Lancashire so I did my teenage years in Lancashire and then I got into drama school when I was 18, so made the big move to London. I did 11 years in London and now I’m actually living in Scotland because my wife is from Scotland.
“So we actually live here, we’ve set up home in Scotland. So I’m well travelled. I’m a bit of a mongrel to be honest.”
What was it like to get to work on Game of Thrones so early in your career?
“It was amazing, really. I mean, I wasn’t that long out of drama school and then getting the call that I was going to be in a TV show called Game of Thrones. The series wasn’t actually what it would finally become because I was only in the second series. It was only really in the second/third series that it started kicking off and becoming this big phenomenon. It was amazing to be part of that kind of legacy of a show.
“And for me, it’s only my immediate family that moved over to England. So my father, my grannies and granddads and uncles, cousins and everyone else is still back between Belfast and Dublin so anytime I get to get back to Ireland working, I actually get to catch up with all my family.
“So it’s amazing and, of course, the next job that I’m doing we’re doing a little bit of filming, we’re doing a good few weeks filming in Dublin so I’m going to get to bring the family back over and catch up with Granny and Granddad and all the relatives which is what makes getting back to Ireland so special for me.”
Game of Thrones had you working closely with Liam Cunnigham playing his son, what was that like (We completely forget another film of the time also had them working together)?
“The funniest thing about working on Game of Thrones was that at the exact same time as shooting Game of Thrones, I was shooting Good Vibrations. And what was funny was, Liam Cunningham was the recording artist who recorded my character Feargal Sharkey so one week, me and Liam Cunningham were Davos and Matthos in Westeros and then the next week, we were Feargal and Davy in 1970s punk Belfast. It was very unusual seeing Dad with his hairy chest out and a medallion around his neck.”
Not long after that you were Conor in London Irish, a show that I see getting a resurgence after the success of Derry Girls with many going back to check out Lisa McGee’s earlier work..
“Yeah, it was, again, an amazing opportunity when I got that, felt very blessed that I got it. I felt blessed that I got the chance to play that mad character. But it was such a shame we didn’t get another series of that one. It was very controversial when it came out, but I think all the best comedies are because it kind of pushes buttons and asks people questions and pushes right close to the line.
“Lisa wasn’t afraid to do that. It was amazing to work with Lisa McGee. She’s such an amazing writer, and we’ve kind of had chats recently about maybe how we can have a reunion or work on something else together. It would be amazing actually to step back into doing a bit of comedy again because I’ve been doing straight drama for quite a while now. So it would be good fun to do something a bit more light hearted.”
Actually, watching Birthright at Finborough Theatre recently we were reminded of Coolatully that you starred in there back in 2015. It was the use of the hurley stick that brought back the memory.
“I honestly think that was one of the last times I’ve been on stage actually. I need to get back to it, I need to tread the boards again. I adored working on that play but I think that was about seven and a half years ago so I’m rusty. If anyone out there wants to put me on stage, I’d be happy.”
You heard him. If you have theatre or comedy ideas, Kerr’s your man.
Back to something that is neither comedy or theatre, The Killing Kind.
Are you getting a sense of the buzz around it?
“I think it’s a very bingeable Show. Very, very watchable. And very entertaining. Hopefully people will respond.”