Thomas Roach chats with directors Kristoffer Nyholm and Anders Engström about Taboo…
Back in November, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the directors of the new show Taboo, Kristoffer Nyholm (who directed episodes 1-4) and Anders Engström (who directed episodes 5-8).
Speaking with Kristoffer Nyholm, he revealed what attracted him to the project. “I read the first two scripts. I thought they were fabulous. I had another project at that moment so I was unsure whether I was going to do it. Tom Hardy said ‘do you want to do this with me? Do you want to walk down that road?’ He said ‘we will go to the edge but we might fail’. I thought that was beautiful. I thought it was a personal story for Tom to do. He had strong ideas and instincts about where it was going.”
Nyholm was directing the first four episodes, and went on to discuss his contribution: “I think there was always a sense of where it was going and what it was about. That played into every scene from the very beginning. I didn’t have to control it or look at it. I looked at his character, you’re moulding on the same person.”
Nyholm then revealed how he saw Hardy’s character, James Delaney progress as a character: “The main character is not developing throughout the series, he is moving to different stages of awareness. It was important for me you understood what he wanted to do. That is where you get the empathy or the interest for his character.”
Anders Engström, director of episodes 5-8, revealed what attracted him to the project: “It was really about the characters, it was James Delaney’s complexity. It is an imaginative series. Of course it has a fantastic lead and a fantastic producer; I think Ridley Scott’s DNA is really in the show. We had a fantastic production designer, Sonja Klaus, who really opened up the world; she was a true inspiration for me because her research and her knowledge of the time was really huge and important for me.”
Engström weighed in on his collaboration with the show’s creators Tom Hardy, Chips Hardy and Steven Knight: “Collaboration was boss. We had no desire to trump each other. We were too interested in the story and in the people. Tom and I had a very honest discussion before I came on board. It was really on those terms that this is a collaborative project and we bring ourselves to the table.” He added “Tom was a very loyal and wonderful collaborator.”
As Taboo is being shown on both BBC One and FX, it is going out to two different audiences, and Engström talked about whether this had an impact on creating the show. “While being on the journey there was not a worry about the world outside. Of course you are aware of certain expectations in both camps. That was so strongly interlaced in the design of the project that one didn’t have to consider that when we woke up in the morning.”
Set in 1814, Taboo follows James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth and come back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa in 1814 to inherit what is left of his father’s shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself. But when his father’s legacy is revealed to be a poisoned chalice and enemies lurk in every dark corner, James must navigate increasingly complex territories to avoid his own death sentence. Encircled by conspiracy, murder, and betrayal – a dark family mystery unfolds in an explosively colourful tale of love and treachery.
Taboo will premiere on BBC One on January 7th and on FX on January 10th and sees Tom Hardy leading a cast that also includes Michael Kelly (Everest), Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones), Oona Chaplin (Black Mirror), David Hayman (The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas), Jessie Buckley (Shades of Love), Ashley Walters (Bullet Boy), Ed Hog (Anonymous), Leo Bill (Alice in Wonderland), Christopher Fairbank (Guardians of the Galaxy), Richard Dixon (The King’s Speech), and Nicholas Woodeson (The Living and the Dead).