Thomas Roach chats with Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy about Taboo…
The new BBC series Taboo gets underway this weekend, and we caught up with the show’s creators Tom and Chips Hardy at the press junket, where they revealed that they have been working on the project for the last few years, and the initial idea came out of a conversation between the two.
“Tom and I wanted to explore a particular character that he had in mind,” said Chips. “We tried to create a world in which that character could operate. The character was a kind of conflicted hero. We also talked about the notion of landmark period drama. We wanted to make a period drama like the old ones. We didn’t have an absolute plan. It was always television.”
Tom said that there was not a clear time period in which the story would have taken place in initially: “We toyed with several periods. It came from playing Bill Sykes.” [Tom played Bill Sykes in a television adaption of Oliver Twist back in 2007].
Tom went on to express how telling the story on television was more beneficial than creating a film: “The opportunity to tell a story on TV has less constraint than a film. We have 90 minutes in a film, we have 8 hours in TV. We have less money and less time to shoot it. We have more responsibilities to have the creative discussion.”
Tom also explained how he had been living with the character James Delaney for many years, and it took so long to go from the initial conversation with his father to arriving on set.
“It was about seven years old for starters. Every character in this piece is an extension of this character for me. The piece is the character. It’s an ensemble game in many aspects. As it’s not real everybody is an extension of central character they just happen to have a character name. For me the piece is the character, Taboo is the character. My relationship with this particular character has come from a seminal position there was nothing before it and now we see the show. It wasn’t in the same sense of getting a script and saying I’ll adopt this persona. There is never closure on character work anyway for me.”
Despite being born out of a conversation between Chips and Tom, it was really a team effort of everyone involved in creating the show. “This was just an idea we had in our classic father son conversation,” said Tom. “The piece is now unrecognizable from that conversation. It belongs to the entire team of people. It would be wrong to say it was our piece. It was a best idea wins collaborative environment.”
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 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).