Paradox: Mark Bonnar plays DS Ben Holt

DS Ben Holt refuses to believe the images they’ve been given are from the future but, as events unfold, will he be forced to change his views? Mark Bonnar talks about being reunited with director Simon Cellan Jones and acting in reverse.

How did you get the role of DS Ben Holt in Paradox?

I had worked with Clerkenwell Films before on Rebus, with John Hannah, and an episode of Afterlife. I also worked with the director, Simon Cellan Jones, on The Trial Of Tony Blair, so that might have helped get my foot in the door. But I still had to audition like everyone else – which is even more nerve-wracking when it’s for people you know. I was on holiday about four or five weeks later when I got a call from my agent saying I got the job.

Usually if I don’t hear about a job within a week, I presume I haven’t got it, have a little cry and try to move on. So it was a fantastic shock. The villa where we were in Mallorca had a pool, so I jumped straight in with a bottle of champagne!

How would you describe Ben?

I suppose Ben is just an average bloke with two kids and an ex-wife. He’s a good and committed policeman, although he’s not afraid to bend the rules if the end justifies the means – I’m sure he secretly enjoys kicking down the odd door and roughing up the occasional career criminal!

He can be stubborn, too, which can lead him away from the job in hand. When the images come through he refuses to believe they could be from the future and looks for some kind of rationality. He struggles to deal with, and understand, what’s happening as the truth becomes more apparent.

How would anyone cope receiving images from the future? He changes as the series progresses and becomes deeply, personally involved. What happens in one of the episodes changes his life in the most profound way.

How does Ben interact with the rest of the team and Christian?

Ben gets on well with the team, although Rebecca was recently promoted above Ben and I think there is a little tension carried by that situation.

The relationship between Ben and Callum feels like an uncle/nephew relationship. Ben feels quite protective of him – looking out for him where he can – and they have a good working relationship.

Ben and Christian, on the other hand, have an intense relationship. He finds Christian unhelpful – it seems to Ben like he’s playing games and it really gets on Ben’s wick! Although, there is a brief thaw in a later episode.

How did you all get on off screen?

Like a house on fire. They are a wonderful bunch – cast and crew. There wasn’t loads of time to be sociable out of work because of the busy schedule, but we spent time together when we could and had a lot of fun on set – which I hope comes across on screen.

When you care about the work and get on so well it makes for a very special experience, which you always hope comes across.

Your wife, Lucy Gaskell, also appears in one of the episodes. How did that come about?

It was pure coincidence. This is the first time we’ve worked together since we met. I say work – we only glance at each other at the end of a scene! I’m still looking forward to our first professional conversation!

Did you have to perform many stunts for the role?

I had a couple of fight scenes – it’s always fun pretending to be tough! It is actually quite difficult to keep your concentration physically because you obviously don’t want to injure anyone, so we are well choreographed by the stunt director and we won’t proceed until all parties are happy we are confident and safe.

I also had to film a car crash stunt, which involved backwards acting. That sounds strange – I should say acting in reverse. In order to get a good shot of me driving, right up to the moment of impact, we had to film from that point and then reverse the car backwards.

Then, in the edit, they reverse the film. I had to start the scene being braced for the crash, slowly drive backwards, not taking my eyes off the other car, through to the point where I see it for the first time. It was very tricky, but rewarding when we got it right – although I wouldn’t recommend reversing without looking in your rear view mirror!

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