The Fades: Cast Interviews
The BBC have released interviews with the main cast of The Fades.
Iain De Caestecker (Paul) & Daniel Kaluuya (Mac)
Daniel Kaluuya (Skins, Psychoville, Sucker Punch] and Iain De Caestecker (River City, Coronation Street, James Herriot) play best friends Mac and Paul in The Fades.
Seventeen-year-old Paul has never quite worked how to fit in. Other than to Mac, he talks only when he needs to, out of certain knowledge that anything he might say would probably be under-appreciated. He’s always known he’s different and always not wanted the job. In some ways his journey through the series is the journey of someone who learns different can be great: Paul is special, it’s as simple and as complicated as that.
Unlike Paul, 17-year-old Mac talks – well – most of the time. A hive of knowledge and theories, he is almost a walking encyclopedia of geeky film quotes – yes, Mac has a lot to communicate and seemingly not a lot of time. The son of a police detective under pressure, Mac would always say he’s cool with his place in the world, but the truth is – Mac doesn’t want to be this invisible person that people walk through. As Paul develops his angelic powers, so Mac will feel increasingly left out. Mac and Paul have always been a double act – and if Paul outgrows him, he’s scared he will be left nothing. He may not have any special powers, but Mac is also our hero – he’s Paul’s wingman and right at the heart of everything.
What is The Fades about?
Iain: The Fades are spirits of the dead walking the Earth. It happened years ago, as more and more people have died and the population grown, more and more fades started to exist. Usually dead people would ascend to another place but the Fades are people who have been left on Earth. They have no sense of touch and they can’t interact with other human beings which is a bit of a problem.
Tell us about Paul?
Iain: Paul is best friends with Mac. Two quite geeky characters. At the start of the story he’s 17, so he’s got the normal teenage problems coupled with the fact that he’s having these weird visions. He is able to see Fades which most people aren’t.
Tell us about Mac?
Daniel: Mac is this really geeky guy who is best friends with Paul. He loves comics and films and really random stuff like the Matrix and science fiction. Mac and Paul have been living in each others pockets for years, since they were kids and they really love each other. Mac loves to talk. He just goes on about his little theories and Paul is very nice and always listens.
How would you describe the series?
Iain: It’s like a horror mixed with comedy and drama. It’s got a Skins type feel to it as well.
What is an Angelic?
Daniel: This character called Neil (Johnny Harris) is the leader of the Angelics, they are this team that don’t want the Fades to come back to life and they’re in a constant battle to kill them all. But that’s a very hard battle. It’s very hard to kill them….
Discuss your experience of filming. Any anecdotes?
Iain: It’s been a laugh! Johnny Harris is amazing and the girls are hot. We’re all the same age as well so we’ve been hanging out quite a lot off set and been talking to each other lots. We all went to Fabric together which was so much fun and we can look back together on really good times – team Fades!
What do you think is the international appeal of the series?
Iain: It’s important to outline why it will appeal outside the UK is because there are really great characters, great stories and just really great writing. When a foundation is those things then it translates in any language. That’s the reason I watch films like The Prophet, its one of the best films ever even though it’s in French and has subtitles. It’s great storytelling by Jack (Thorne) and that should appeal.
Daniel: Despite all the supernatural elements to it, it’s quite a real story, with the characters and their relationships which is what grips you and makes it relatable.
What are the highlights from the first three episodes?
Daniel: Episode one is good because all the characters are introduced and so you get to know all of them. Paul and I go for a hunt in the shopping centre and while we’re there we stumble upon Neil (Johnny Harrris) who is battling with an unruly Fade.
Iain: Episode two starts with us at school and Paul’s been having terrible visions; also there’s lots of scary stuff in an orphanage which is cool. Paul ends up getting a bit further in his romantic endeavours with Jay (Sophie Wu) and we go to a party which is pretty sick.
Iain: Episode three is Mac’s birthday which he’s really excited about. Neil tells Paul that he needs to make a choice between one life and the other life and he gets into a real turmoil about this and then forgets Mac’s birthday! But he manages to make it up to him with balloons in a car park. Paul’s powers are all revealed when he manages to help Neil who has been in a fight with Polus (evil Fade). But then…
If you could have a super power what would it be?
Daniel: The ability to read people’s minds, like in that film What Women Want. But, I’d want to be able to switch it off when I want so I don’t have to hear any mean stuff.
Iain: I’d like to be able to go back in time. Take a really good book with me and then write it back in time as if it was mine.
Sarah (Natalie Dormer)
Natalie Dormer (The Tudors, Silk, W.E.) is Sarah, beautiful, complicated and damaged. Cursed by her powers and torn from the comfort of her loving home and family, she eventually managed to rebuild her life and find solace with Mark (Tom Ellis). Before things went wrong all over again. Sarah can be tough and determined and is incredibly loyal. She is Juliet to Mark’s Romeo – hopelessly in love but always just out of reach.
Tell us about Sarah?
Sarah is a woman who has had a very unhappy past. She has been struggling to maintain a schizophrenic existence, she’s got two lives. She’s been an Angelic, she has this gift, she sees this other very dark scary world and she’s had a history of mental problems because she’s had this gift since she was very young. She therefore has grown up into this very delicate woman who has fallen in love with Mark, Tom Ellis’s character and is desperately fighting to maintain some normality. She is the only Angelic who has done that, who has tried to have a real life, tried to do the superhero thing of ‘I can be two people’ and of course we all know you can’t do that.
The interesting thing about playing Sarah is that friction and that she’s a very loyal person, I love playing her because she feels a great loyalty towards Johnny Harris’s character, Neil and the Angelics and realises her duty and responsibility there. But she also is incredibly loyal to her husband, she loves him dearly even though their marriage has had some very bad issues and they’ve broken up because she’s tried to maintain two lives. It’s that juggling act that you find her in when you first meet her and then it all just goes to pot after that!
Any special preparation necessary to play the role?
What I’ve drawn on is that I’ve been in love, so I know what it is like to be in love and regardless… even if the apocalypse is happening, all you want to be is with that person. You would die for them. Then there’s the fight and the struggle in realising that she has responsibility elsewhere and that maybe love can be a very selfish act, sometimes too selfish and you need to take responsibility for other human beings and indeed, in Sarah’s case, the whole human race.
What is her relationship with the main character Paul?
The show centres on our young coming of age hero, Paul. He gets entangled in this alternative world, this parallel world that is happening at the same time as daily life. He finds out he is an Angelic, or has powers like an Angelic and what I love about Jack’s (Thorne) scripts is his extreme dexterity at mixing this teenage sixth form world, the day to day trivia, the politics and everything that comes with that and right next to it is this story of the struggle for humanity, theology, a whole mythology and deep profound questions of life and death simultaneously. There is this great juxtaposition between the two worlds.
How would you describe the series?
I was doing an interview the other day and a journalist asked me what would people compare The Fades to? You hear people banding round titles like True Blood, Buffy, Skins or Jack’s (Thorne) other work but my answer is that people will only compare it before they have seen it. Once you’ve seen it you’ll stop comparing it to anything else because it stands on its own. It’s so strong, it mixes all the genres. The Fades is what people will start comparing other shows to because this show has broken the boundaries and it’s merged everything beautifully and as I was saying before, I just love Jack’s dexterity at being able to jump in tone. The humour is so funny, it is laugh out loud in places but then it is heartbreaking in other places and hopefully really quite scary in parts too. It’s a real rollercoaster ride.
Any anecdotes from the set?
This has been one of the most physically demanding jobs I’ve ever done! I couldn’t begin to list everything, but it was crazy! For example, being submerged in freezing cold gloop and goo all day, vomiting black stuff, ash being thrown in your face for three or four days, you name it we’ve done it. There’s been a sort of hellish physical experience for all the cast at one point or another. We’ve all been supportive of each other when it’s been that person’s turn! We’ve really been pushing the boundaries especially in the second half of the series.
Do you actually believe in the supernatural or had any supernatural experiences?
What I find very interesting about Jack’s scripts is the completely invented theology, the mythology and the culture of the Fades. It’s interesting to think when you have a completely clean slate and you have to tackle questions on life and death, religion and faith and identity and I find it fascinating where he’s taken his inspirations from and created this whole new mythology. It’s been a real stab in the dark; we’ve all been making our way through together.
Why should people watch The Fades?
Watch the first ten minutes that’s all I’m asking, and if you’re not hooked in the first ten minutes then I’ll be very surprised!
Neil (Johnny Harris)
Award-winning actor Johnny Harris (This Is England 86, Spartacus) plays Neil. Afraid of nothing and afraid of everything, Neil is perhaps the unlikeliest warrior in the world. Generally unwashed and unshaven, Neil is an orphan who has left the conventional world behind to commit himself entirely to the Angelic cause. He lives on the edge, and quite likes it there because he can see everything. Teacher, learner, helper, Angelic, and a surprising mentor for Paul (Iain De Caestecker).
Tell us about Neil?
Neil is an Angelic. And he’s pretty much born into it. The Angelics have this ability to see these dead souls, the Fades, as they roam the Earth. He’s pretty much a fundamentalist… it’s his life. It’s all he’s got.
How would you describe the Fades?
The Fades essentially are the spirits of the dead and they roam the Earth. They’re trapped here… and this has an effect on them as you can imagine. They’re not happy. They live in a world they can’t touch, they can’t taste they can’t feel. And so they evolve.
It seems a slight change of gear isn’t it? From This is England ’86 to The Fades. What brought you to The Fades?
My agent called and said ‘there’s a new project, it’s called The Fades and it’s by Jack Thorne’ and so instantly my ears pricked up… it was everything that I imagined from Jack Thorne. It was out there you know. His imagination’s limitless, and it was all there on the page. It was quite fantastic. So I was intrigued to see how I could try and bring it to life.
How is your character connected to Paul?
Paul realises he’s got these powers, he can see the Fades, there’s only a certain group of people that can do that. This young boy thinks he’s mad at first and then Neil comes into his life and explains to him that he’s not mad, he’s got these special powers and what they’re meant to be used for… the stakes are raised consistently… the Fades are evolving and growing and as far as Neil’s concerned that needs to be controlled and that’s where his relationship with the boy comes in. Paul is the chosen one.
Johnny on working with a young cast on set
I’m learning from them to be honest. I’m not just saying that to be polite. We’ve all got different journeys really. These guys are getting big parts at young ages and they’re really mature as actors. Iain De Caestecker is something a bit special. One thing that I think will be key to this show is the casting of Iain. He’s fantastic and they’ve got it just right.
I think and he’s lovely to be around. It’s the same with Jo Dempsey. Daniel Kaluuya is one of the most enigmatic young men I’ve ever met… I’m watching them and thinking: ‘God, what was I doing at 22 or however old they are..?’ I love hearing what they’re about. They’re teaching me new words everyday – ‘Swag’ apparently now means good. It was a bank robber’s loot when I was young. So I’m feeling a bit old on this set..! They don’t just turn up and say lines. They are very serious about their craft. It’s a breath of fresh air and I think it’s really exciting.
Do you believe in the supernatural?
I don’t to be honest. I have a faith, I’ve got a belief. I’m not religious but I have a belief that if you do good, good things happen. I do believe that there’s an energy out there that we can connect into. I like to believe that that’s true and it’s not let me down really.