The Street: Jonas Armstrong plays Nick

Jonas Armstrong, best known as the title character in BBC One’s popular Saturday prime-time drama, Robin Hood, portrays Nick, a soldier who returns home after suffering a catastrophic injury in Afghanistan. He finds life extremely difficult as he tries to come to terms with a devastating facial disfigurement.

Deeply depressed by this life-changing event, Nick starts using drink and drugs as a crutch, and his relationship with his fiancee Gemma suffers. At the end of his tether, he takes drastic action, which has highly unexpected consequences.

For Jonas, this was a dream job.

The actor recalls: “I remember having a chat with another actor on the set of Robin Hood and we both said we’d love to work on The Street. Within two weeks, both of us had auditions for it. At the audition, I really went for it and shouted the house down. When I was told I had got the part of Nick, I was so excited.

“The great thing about Jimmy’s scripts is that they’re so believable. Because the drama is set in an everyday street in Salford, the characters within it are so real. The directors shoot it like a semi-documentary – it’s as if the camera just comes around the corner and finds these characters. Also, the writing is incredibly moving. You’re totally affected by these stories.”

Jonas assesses his character: “Nick’s face has been completely destroyed by a suicide bomb – his eye and ear are moulded into his face. The drama is about how he tries to re-adjust back home. It’s very hard for him because of the way in which people react to him. He’s acutely aware that children burst into tears when they see him.

“Nick tries to return to his old job working with his mates, but they can’t take him back because the contract has changed. His sex life dips because he feels inadequate and he turns to drink. He can’t even go back to work as a squaddie because he would damage morale. He doesn’t know who to blame for his problems.”

The toughest part of the job for Jonas was the time it took each day to make him up as the terribly disfigured soldier.

“It took four hours to do the prosthetics every morning,” the actor reveals. “I’d be up at 4.45am every day, while the rest of the cast would be arriving at 8.15 for a nice leisurely breakfast. By the time filming started at 10.00am, I’d already done five hours!

“We tried to make it look as authentic as possible – that really helps you get into the part. My eyelid was pulled down and I could only partially see. The costume guy said he couldn’t look at me for long because it upset him. When I turned up on set on the last day with my own face, everyone was very surprised.”

Playing the role of Nick, Jonas says, “helped change my perception of soldiers. It brought it so much closer to home. Making this film, I learnt so much about what soldiers do for us.

“When they come back home from a tour, many soldiers find it nearly impossible to readjust to normal life. It must be hellish out there. Even wearing all that kit in the boiling heat must be tough. They make an incredible contribution for us.”

Jonas, who has also starred in Teachers, Ghost Squad and Losing Gemma, feels that this episode of The Street is very timely.

“The script is so contemporary. The subject of what British soldiers do for us in Afghanistan is so topical. I think it’s important that drama depicts that. Our soldiers are dying and losing their limbs out there because they’re fighting for us.”

“These lads are risking their all for us – and yet they don’t get the pay or the respect they deserve. We undervalue them. We should never forget the sacrifices they make for us. I feel very strongly about that.”

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  • steph

    love jonas 🙂 he was so good in robin hood

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