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'Low Winter Sun' rises from England to America

Published August 9, 2013 5:58 pm

Television • Mark Strong takes on the same cop character — but in Detroit.
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Beverly Hills, Calif. — Seven years ago, Mark Strong starred as Frank Agnew in the British TV miniseries "Low Winter Sun" — the dark story of two Edinburgh cops who kill a fellow officer and then cover up the crime.

Beginning Sunday on AMC, Mark Strong stars as Frank Agnew in "Low Winter Sun" — the dark story of two Detroit cops who kill a fellow officer and then cover up the crime.

Same character, different city, different accent.

"I just couldn't let anybody else play my part," Strong said. "I mean, it's as simple as that. I created the guy, and I wanted to take him further."

And, he was quick to point out, a chance like this doesn't come along for many actors.

"Normally you play a part, you put it to bed, it's done," Strong said. "The idea that you can resurrect a character seven or eight years later, move him from Edinburgh to Detroit, was too fascinating a creative opportunity, I think, to let go by."

Perhaps the weirdest part of the Americanized "Low Winter Sun" is that the two Detroit cops at the center of the AMC series are both British actors. In addition to Strong, Lennie James stars as Det. Joe Geddes.

"Honestly, I wouldn't care if they were from America or from Australia or from the UK," said writer/executive producer Chris Mundy. "The best actor wins, and it's kind of as simple as that."

There's no arguing that Strong and James are talented actors. But the jury is still out on the new "Low Winter Sun." It's loaded with possibilities, but it's not quite there in the two episodes screened for critics. Particularly when the story moves from the cops to the bad guys.

But those first two episodes are certainly intriguing.

"It's a very simple premise," James said. "Two cops kill another cop, and then they're put in charge of the investigation to find themselves. This isn't a whodunit because we know within the five minutes who's done it, and we're not trying to solve the case. We're trying to unsolve a case."

The two versions of "Low Winter Suns" aren't exactly the same. The original ran about three hours; the American adaptation has a 10-episode first season and the actors are hoping for more.

"The murder of a colleague and the fallout from that is all cherry-picked from the original," Strong said. "Then we're off into new territory. There's a whole group of people … that are brand new and invented by Chris and the writers."

"It necessarily had to be different," Mundy said, "and no one could complain we were doing something different than the original because the original ends pretty abruptly."


'Low Winter Sun'

The 10-episode first season of "Low Winter Sun" premieres Sunday at 10:57 p.m. on AMC, with multiple rebroadcasts throughout the week.