If you had been out drinking in the English city of Liverpool not so long ago, you might have bumped into Brit actor Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) hanging out with a rather unexpected companion: American Horror Story and What’s Love Got to Do with It star Angela Bassett.
“She’s amazing,” says Sturgess, over the phone from his home in London. “She’s a real force of nature. I mean, a beautiful, amazing person — but very strong, very fiery. She was just brilliant. It was amazing spending time in a pub in Liverpool, watching football with Angela Bassett! With Tina Turner herself! It was one of those surreal experiences.”
The two actors were shooting the new period drama Close to the Enemy, which premiered on Acorn TV last Monday. In the 1946-set show, Sturgess plays an intelligence officer named Captain Callum Ferguson, who runs into an array of interesting folk at a bomb-damaged London hotel — including Bassett’s jazz pianist — while attempting to convince a German scientist to start developing a jet engine for the British.
“He’s somebody who’s literally just come off the war,” says Sturgess of Ferguson. “So, that’s an interesting place to start with a character’s story, having the residue of that experience weighing on your heart and sitting on your shoulders. He was right on the front-line of the war, and experienced it first hand, and saw all the atrocities that that brought, and was very aware how unprepared Britain was, and how many things could have been avoided if there had been a bit more preparation.”
Sturgess continues: “He works for T-Force, which is an elite section of the British intelligence, and has a background in aeronautical engineering. So, he’s given the task to extract information from a German aeronautical engineer. With his intelligence background and his understanding of engineering and aeroplanes, he’s the man for the job, if you like.”
Close to the Enemy is written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff, who is a much-revered TV dramatist across the pond thanks to previous shows like 2005’s Emmy-winning The Lost Prince. “The minute I said I was doing a Stephen Poliakoff BBC drama, that’s when people were like, ‘Oh, that’s really exciting!’” says Sturgess. “I was aware of his work, but I didn’t realize the extent of how excited people are that there is a new Poliakoff piece coming to their television screens. I think my Mum and Dad understood what I do for the very first time!”
Acorn TV is premiering a new episode of Close to the Enemy every Monday night. You can see the show’s trailer and a clip from the first episode below.