Ireland is a beautiful old country. Full of lore and lore, and old wives’ tales that give it a strange and unknowable quality. It’s the perfect setting for a crime story, which was undoubtedly part of the appeal of Tana French’s popular Dublin Murder Squad novels, which began with her 2007 bestseller. In the woods-on the murder of a young girl and its possible connection with the mysterious childhood of one of the investigators of the case. The main characters – Rob and Cassie – are beloved by fans, with the latter having his own central story in French’s follow-up novel, The resemblance.
Now these first two books have been adapted into the series Dublin Murders, which just finished an eight-episode broadcast on BBC One in the UK, and premiered its first episode on Starz in the US this week. Nerdist recently chatted with the show’s main cast: Killian Scott, who plays Rob Reilly, and Sarah Greene, who plays his work partner and close friend Cassie Maddox. They discussed their familiarity with French’s books, creating an iconic on-screen partnership, researching their characters, and what they hope audiences will take away from the series.
On the writing of Tana French and its usefulness for the actors
Scott and Greene both knew French’s books but hadn’t read them until they got the roles. “I’m terrible [about reading books] when I’m working I really have a hard time getting into another story, ”Greene admitted, saying that once she got the part, she ordered both books online. As fate willed it, the second novel—The resemblance-came first, and that’s the one told from her character’s perspective. She read it quickly, describing it as “some sort of autobiography” for Cassie, and a perfect way to get into the character’s brain.
Scott felt the same with In the woods, told from Rob’s perspective. “It was the most exciting thing to play a role where this resource was available,” he said. “A lot of times as actors we have thoughts on, well, what is the story of this guy and what happened in that period of his life or whatever, and when you have the novel there- bottom, it’s 600, 700 pages entirely from your point of view. “
They also cited series writer Sarah Phelps for providing all the information they needed to get into character. “When we see for the first time [Rob and Cassie] going to a crime scene at a gas station, all these details of how they get around, how it’s kinda unspoken, their partnership – it was all written down, so we just had to show up and our job was really easy for us by Sarah Phelps, ”explained Greene.
Scott and Greene’s offscreen work ethic mimics that of their characters
The show follows Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox, two detectives from Garda Síochána’s Murder Squad in the Republic of Ireland. The couple are entrusted with a case involving the murder of a 12-year-old girl named Katy Devlin, whose body is discovered deep in the woods, the same woods where, twenty years earlier, Rob had witnessed the disappearance of his two best friends, an unsolved crime that he remembers only in unreliable fragments. His past is kept secret from his bosses; it’s only Cassie who knows the details, and she’s vowed to keep them private, even with her growing concerns that Rob’s closeness to the new case could harm her psyche.
The two have an extremely close working relationship, bringing to mind Mulder and Scully of X files; a pair of male and female investigators with unlimited confidence and deep rapport. Scott and Greene said their on-screen relationship isn’t that different from the way they work off-screen. They met during a script read two weeks before the shoot and before the rehearsals, and clicked immediately.
“We have the same kind of work ethic so it was really, really easy between us,” Greene said. “I loved working across from Killian. He’s a special actor and I can’t wait for people to see him do his thing.
Scott agreed with this sentiment. “I think we work the same way and we want the creative environment to be relaxed and we want it to be playful,” he said. “It was great because we’re going to go through it together. We had a very Rob and Cassie relationship in the sense that we both seemed to really understand each other and we could work together seamlessly. “
The Irish executive helped them get into character
In a sea of criminal proceedings, there is something special – almost mystical – about Dublin Murders. This is mainly due to its Irish setting, which gives the story and the setting a supernatural quality. As the story progresses, more and more of these elements bleed into the narrative. There is talk of “old man” living in the woods and a subplot of doppelgänger. There’s also the recurring imagery of a wolf, which may or may not have something to do with Rob’s story.
“We’re a very, very old country, with a huge history, and superstition is something we’ve all lived with, old stories and rituals,” said Greene, who was born in Cork, Ireland. “As much as people want to erase it, in fact we all have an insignificant belief deep down.”
The physical locations, shot around Dublin and parts of Northern Ireland, also helped the actors get into this frightening state of mind. The show was filmed around Dublin and also in Northern Ireland. The woods where the main action takes place is actually Tollymore Forest, near Newcastle in Northern Ireland, a location also used for Game Of Thrones. Greene called the woods “another character” in the series. “As soon as you walk in there is a strange aspect,” she said.
“When you’re filming in the dark woods at midnight in winter in Belfast, you don’t have to work too hard to get the right kind of emotions,” Scott said with a laugh. “It’s kind of given to you for free in a lot of ways. “
The show is not going easy on the audience
In many ways, books in French and Dublin Murders relate to a lack of resolution. It is not all a mystery, but there is a recurring theme that some things are impossible to fully understand, and this part of life is about learning to understand this fact and live with it.
“For me as a member of the public, I like to be challenged,” Greene said. “I like to make up my own mind and not be spoon fed all the time. And sometimes we just don’t get the answers. It’s frustrating, it’s really sad, it can drive you crazy, but I think it’s real life.
Rob is the character who tackles this in the most direct sense. Much of the show involves him chasing after the ghosts of memory, things that can never make total sense. “He’s kind of caught up in this very difficult problem at Kafka where he’s relentlessly pursuing something that he’s probably not going to solve,” Scott said. “And the resulting frustration is a little inconceivable. “
But that’s also part of what makes this story, both the books and the series, so intriguing and compelling. They teach us to navigate these dark and inexplicable corners of the universe. Sometimes there is no way out. But with the right people in your life, with a Rob to your Cassie, it might seem a little easier.
The Dublin Murders air Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET / PT on Starz.
Featured Image: Starz