EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ripper Street stars Adam Rothenberg and MyAnna Buring talk new season
Our favourite Victorian crime drama (and that’s a surprisingly tough category) Ripper Street is returning for a fourth season this Friday, exclusive to Amazon Prime Video.
Last season’s finale saw Reid finally hang up his hat and resign from his position as Head of the H Division at Whitechapel, moving to the seaside with long-lost daughter Mathilda. Drake took over Reid’s former role and married the love of his life, Rose Erskine.
It was a less happy ending for Long Susan, however, who was imprisoned for her role in the locomotive disaster, which killed 55 people. Jackson was at her side as the series closed, but have they remained together for the long-haul?
We spoke to Ripper Street stars Adam Rothenberg and MyAnna Buring about Susan and Jackson, the upcoming new series of Ripper Street and plans for a potential spin-off.
The end of last season ended on a positive note – kind of – for Susan and Jackson’s relationship.
MyAnna: Yes. Darkly positive.
Adam: Gallows positive.
As in – you’re together. So what’s next? Are you going to be more of a united front this season?
Adam: As far as I’m concerned I think – I hope – it seems the days of us going should we, shouldn’t we are gone. That’s been sorted.
MyAnna: Yeah. I think definitely in terms of Susan and Jackson, for sure. What the rest of the world thinks or believes is a different matter, but between them they’ve gone through too much and have given in – they’re doomed for each other. And to fight it…
Adam: It would be silly to fight it at this point.
Why do you think they make such an interesting couple?
MyAnna: Because they’re not straight down the line soppy anything. It’s been hard. They’re strong personalities that clash, and yet underneath that clashing there’s this massive love.
Adam: I think it’s love. It’s something else. I don’t know if it’s addiction, but it’s something else. It’s a wonderful thing but also very messy. It’s very extreme but everyone can relate. What people go through in our world internally when they fall in love – the tumultuousness – these are those feelings just to the extreme.
Do you two personally think they should be together?
MyAnna: It’s dependent on where we’ve been in the story. There’s been times when people have been like “poor Jackson” and I’ve been like “what?!”
Adam: I never get that. One of the interviewers said “so, Jackson is a terrible husband” and I was like “What?” I got so depressed.
I thought Reid was a terrible husband, but Jackson…
Adam: Thank you!
MyAnna: The only time [I disagreed] was the gambling. The gambling of the money.
Adam: That was a mistake, but the only reason he did it was to get you out of a pickle that you’d put yourself in by borrowing money that Jackson knew nothing about. I’m not advocating it, but in his way – because he’s brilliant in many ways and a buffoon in others – he tried. Should they be together? At this point, yeah. If you rewound to before they ever came here and were on the run, maybe no.
At the start of the new season, Susan has given birth to the couple’s son Connor. Do you think parenthood has changed your characters?
MyAnna: Yes. Absolutely. I think the idea that you know, your sense of self has extended outside of you into another little creature. What becomes important to protect is not yourself but something else.
Adam: Of course yes, but I’d say in many ways no. I think Connor is an idea to Jackson, but Jackson’s not really had anything to do with him [until now]. It’s gonna sound cold, I don’t mean it this way. I think he would love his son, if you asked Jackson do you love your son he’d say absolutely. But I think if he was being honest, it’s a piece of baggage he has to take if he wants Susan, because now Susan’s love is very divided. I think Jackson doesn’t know what to do about it, but he knows what he has to do. I think when he lies awake at night he dreams of Susan, he doesn’t dream of his son.
But that’s something that could change over the course of the series?
Adam: Absolutely. It’s just he hasn’t seen him.
There are a lot of new characters this series. What can you tell me about them?
MyAnna: They’re brilliant. They are all brilliant.
Adam: All of them really.
MyAnna: Yet again, the casting has been phenomenal. It’s not only brilliant actors, it’s really lovely people who add so much to the set. David Threlfall is a great example of that, I think everyone who worked with him loved to do so. He’s brilliant at what he does but he’s also a wonderful energy to have around. He’s been around a long time, he really understand how sets work and he contributes to a lot to them. Jonas Armstrong, a phenomenal actor as well. Matt Lewis. We’ve had really exceptional – as always – actors joining in and they serve to make this story richer.
Any characters in particular you find quite interesting?
Adam: Croker. He’s one to watch out for! The new boys Thatcher and Drummond, they’re great boys, they’ve got some good stuff coming up.
MyAnna: We’ve got our new reporter, taking over from Best.
MyAnna: I know. So upsetting, I see David [Dawson, who played Fred Best in series 1-3] now, I’m still devastated. I’m like “nooo, you’re not there.” That was my saddest thing this year actually, that David wasn’t around. I really miss him.
Adam: There’s no wasted new casting. Every face you see is going to do something interesting.
One of the things I love about the show are the historical references in it. I wondered if there is anything in this new series that is based off any real life events or characters?
Adam: The jubilee.
MyAnna: What our writers do brilliantly is that they always go and fact check and pick out little bits of information here and there that is interesting to the story and relevant to the time that will place Ripper Street within the era its placed. And what it also does, it springboards from that truth.
Technology is often featured like the telegram, the telephone, stuff like that, technology is always mentioned and referenced. And what Ripper Street does is it takes that historical fact, like the mass immigration that was taking place in Whitechapel during that time, it takes that and creates a much more heightened story out of it.
It’s not a historically exact programme, yet it’s one that is definitely based within the realm of truth. But within it, lots of things are made up. Story is never sacrificed to be factually correct at all time. But for anyone who is interested in that time, I think it’s got huge [appeal].
Are there any fun things you get to do in a Victorian drama?
MyAnna: Play in that world.
Adam: The whole thing is a playground. I just have to say props and wardrobe. And the fact nothing is solved by [technology] – there was technology back then, but everything was a chore. Getting someone in a hurry requires physical effort. I just think it’s fantastic, that’s the fun of it.
So you enjoy the costumes? They’re not too restrictive?
Adam: For me it’s very freeing, because it’s the same thing all the time. Colourful jacket, that hat, it sorts itself. I think modern dress can be unspecific and sometimes you’re doing a show and you’ve got eight costumes for no good reason. This one, for me it’s like putting on your character.
MyAnna: I’ve complained [about my corset] enough. But no, the costumes are wonderful. I think they put all of us into character. And seeing everyone in costumes just brings that world to life.
How does it feel to have fans so dedicated that this series was brought back from the grave?
MyAnna: Really flattering, really lovely, it’s wonderful to have that kid of support.
Adam: Absolutely, that’s all there is to it. Thank you.
The series has been renewed for two new seasons, does this mean there are some storylines that aren’t really wrapped up in this series and lead onto the fifth?
Adam: Oh yeah. I would venture to say that everything that happens in five is directly related to what goes down in four. I would think that series four and five would feel like one giant extended season.
MyAnna: I think so, but then again we don’t know, we haven’t got the scripts.
The most obvious spin-off to me would be based around you two, so would you be up for this?
Adam: Can you write this thing and start a petition?
You guys escaping somewhere, that makes the most sense to me.
MyAnna: I think you’re totally right. That’s brilliant. Write a little note on that.
Adam: …Jackson Street.
It doesn’t even have to be set in England, you guys can go all over the world.
Adam: Exactly… We could film in New York, you guys live over in my neck of the woods.
MyAnna: No problem!
And that would be a completely different story, I’ve thought this through.
Adam: Not because it would serve me well, but I completely agree with you. I think that would be the only interesting [spin-off]. [Laughter]
Ripper Street Season 4 will be available exclusively on Prime Video from Friday 15th January, with new episodes released weekly.