The Night Manager is the spa drama we’ve been waiting for. Filled with suspense, high stakes and emotional highs and lows, the adaptation of John le Carré’s 1993 novel hits all the sweet spots. The six part miniseries has already aired in BBC to a resounding critical success, and will have its North American debut this week on AMC.
The miniseries stars Tom Hiddleston, a–you guessed it–Night Manager named Jonathan Pine working in a luxurious hotel in Egypt in the midst of the Arab Spring. He gets caught up in the world of espionage when he decides to leak illegal war arms documents to the British government, catching the attention of one Angela Burr (Olivia Colman), who has been devoted to catching the man at the epicentre of the arms trade, Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie). When Angela suspects government corruption, she sends Pine undercover to stop Roper from the inside, even if it means turning himself into a criminal to do it.
Hiddleston, Colman and Laurie all deliver outstanding performances in the miniseries; Hiddleston feels like a bonafide James Bond, from his cool exterior, to his undeniable charm with women, which refreshingly still feels earned as opposed to a default expectation. In that same vein, Laurie epitomizes the eerie and sinister appeal of a good Bond villain. It’s a side of Laurie we haven’t seem much of before and he wears it incredibly well.
Olivia Colman on her role as Angela Burr
Of course, the standout of the series must go to Colman. Angela Burr quickly becomes the unexpected hero of the story, thanks to Colman’s unflinching portrayal of a woman determined to extinguish one flicker of evil in the world. We had the chance to speak with Colman about her role as Angela Burr. “Angela’s the sort of person I would want to be,” Colman told The TV Junkies. “She’s so impressive. She’s bright, she’s fearless, she’s down-to-Earth, she’s all those qualities in a human that I admire. It’s really fun to be able to play her. It’s a no-brainer, really.”
The character of Angela Burr is one of the biggest changes made from the original novel. The character was originally written as a man named Leonard Burr; they changed the character to Angela and, when Colman announced she was pregnant, they wrote that in as well.
“I’m thrilled that they decided Leonard should become Angela,” Colman says. “I’m proud of the decision-makers behind The Night Manager, that they decided to make Burr a woman, and hopefully other things will follow suit. I know it’s happening more, [but] we’ve still got a long way to go until it’s all 50/50. 2016, there’s really no excuse.”
Creating Chemistry with her Co-Star
While the individual performances are strong, nothing makes a solid ensemble piece like the chemistry between its leads. When asked about the chemistry between herself and Hiddleston, Colman says it was easy. “He’s such a lovely man, we could make each other giggle, so we naturally felt affectionate with each other and comfortable with each other,” she says. “I’d be so proud if he was one of my children, and sadly I am probably almost old enough to be his mother. I’ve never asked him how old he is, but he looks much younger than me, which is annoying.”
The relationship between Angela Burr and Jonathan Pine is a tricky one, since they’re so deeply connected, but spend much of the series apart. Colman says le Carré made a note that Burr takes on a motherly role towards Pine, which helped inform their bond. “When you send someone undercover like that, you do take on a sort of parental role over your operative. She had put him in such danger, she took on a protective role and that really helped, that note,” Colman says. “[Pine is] incredibly able, he’s bright and brave, but she always felt responsible that she had put him in that position, so I liked the idea that there was an extraordinary trust between them.”
A possibility for a sequel?
Aside from Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine, Colman says there are few other characters that Angela is able to completely trust. “Trust is such an issue when you find out a lot of the people above her all willing to turn a blind eye to the most horrific acts in order to take some money. She finds that so deplorable,” she says.
One character Angela is able to put her trust in is an American agent by the name of Joel Steadman, played by Supergirl‘s David Harewood. The two share what seems to be a romantic history, though it’s never explicitly stated. However, Colman says that there is certainly love between them from one degree or another.
The series is only just premiering in North America, but thanks to its roaring success in the UK, there have already been talks for a sequel, in spite of the fact that The Night Manager is a stand-alone novel. When asked if she’d be interested in playing Angela Burr again, Colman says it’s a “no-brainer,” but says the sequel should be warranted.
“I do trust their taste, so if they don’t come up with something that is as good or better, I trust them not to do it and I think it would be wrong to try and squeeze something out of it for the sake of it,” she says.
Will you be watching The Night Manager premiere? Sound off in the comments below.
The Night Manager airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.