SLOW HORSES Interview: Gary Oldman And Saskia Reeves On Jackson Lamb's Continued Evolution (Exclusive)

Slow Horses stars Gary Oldman and Saskia Reeves discuss season 2, Jackson Lamb's continued evolution, their unique back and forth on set, and what it's like to inhabit such a uniquely repulsive character.

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In season two Apple TV+'s Slow Horses, long-buried Cold War secrets emerge which threaten to bring carnage to the streets of London. When a liaison with Russian villains takes a fatal turn, our hapless heroes must overcome their individual failings and raise their spy game in a race to prevent a catastrophic incident.

Gary Oldman stars as Jackson Lamb, the brilliant but irascible leader of the spies, who end up in Slough House, a dumping-ground department of MI5, due to their career-ending mistakes as they frequently find themselves blundering around the smoke and mirrors of the espionage world.

Last month, we were fortunate enough to sit down with Jackson Lamb himself, the legendary Gary Oldman, to discuss his return as the already-iconic spy. Joined by standout co-star Saskia Reeves (Catherine Standish), we hear from them on a number of topics ahead of season 2's launch on Apple TV+ this week. 

Gary talks us through how Lamb has evolved in this second batch of episodes, explaining whether he feels a sense of ownership over a character he's poured so much into in the process of translating him from page to screen. Saskia, meanwhile, sheds some light on her creative process when it comes to the often confrontational scenes she shares with Gary.

Check out our interview with the Slow Horses star in the player below. 

Lamb is as abrasive as ever in season 2, but we are starting to see a little more empathy and care from him for his team. What did you enjoy most about exploring that side of him, Gary, all while balancing it with the disdain he still has for everyone? 

Gary: Yes, absolute disdain. He publicly humiliates people. He’s deliberately provocative and confrontational. ‘Cause he doesn’t really give an ‘F.’ What Lamb has is that he’s very loyal and has a very strong moral compass. He just absolutely detests the higher-ups with all that hypocrisy and double standards and all that kind of stuff going on.

He is very loyal to his team; he berates them, humiliates them, and is a sarcy old sod, and I don’t know if it’s a soft spot, but as he says in season one, ‘They’re losers, but they’re my losers.’ There’s a certain protective element in the code of the spy world. They’re Joes, they’re his, and he’s going to make sure they’re okay at the end of the day. 

Is it hard to keep a straight face when you’re having those insults thrown at you, Saskia, particularly when you’re having to portray this quiet contempt it seems Catherine has for Lamb in those moments? 

Gary: You’re focused.

Saskia: I’m very focused. No, actually [Laughs]. I’ve got to really enjoy Catherine’s seriousness. I suppose once I’ve got the costume on and everything…I don’t know. 

Gary: There’s a lot of comedy in the series, isn’t there? The more you’re serious, then the more sarcastic I am. You don’t break that veneer, and I think that’s where the joy is. 

Saskia: Sometimes, I have to talk to myself and say, ‘Don’t enjoy this too much.’ That sense of, ‘This is really fun and going really well,’ I have to suppress that feeling because I start to look at myself in the situation and it becomes self-conscious then. I do have to work on that. 

Gary, there are so many great literary characters who have been played by multiple actors, but similar to Sirius Black, I can’t picture anyone else as Lamb. As you continue fleshing him out, Gary, do you start to feel a sense of ownership over Lamb at all as you do put so much into him?

Gary: Well, I have to say, a lot of that work has been done for me. He is the creation of Mick Herron, who writes the books the show is based on, and he’s brilliant and has done an incredible job with all of us, and all these people that he’s conjured up. I’m not how Mick physically saw the character originally, but I feel a sense of ownership to it and Mick has now…

He sort of hinted the other day when we saw him in London that he sees, maybe going forward with the writing, we’ve contaminated him now [Laughs]. He lived with these people for so long in his imagination, and now they’re three-dimensional, walking, talking breathing people who look like Gary and Saskia. Going forward, he may be influenced by what we’re bringing to the parts.

Saskia: You know, his seventh book is called Bad Actors. I hope that isn’t directed at us or an observation of last year. I’m joking! 

Gary: I think he’s chuffed, don’t you? He’s thrilled. 

Saskia: Oh yes, delighted. 

The first two episodes of Slow Horses will debut globally on Friday, December 2, exclusively on Apple TV+, followed by one new episode weekly, every Friday through December 30.


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