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David Thewlis Plays Identical Twin Brothers Joe and Harry Jennerson (2007)

David Thewlis, an award-winning film actor, has not appeared on British television since “Prime Suspect 3″ some 14 years ago. There was only one writer who could lure him back to the small screen: Jimmy McGovern.

In the first episode of the new series of “The Street”, David has a cracking job, playing not one but two leading roles. He takes the parts of Joe and Harry Jennerson, a pair of identical twins. They lead very different lives.

Joe is a stressed-out husband and father of two teenagers. He is unhappy in his job at a housing benefit office. By contrast, Harry enjoys a carefree bachelor lifestyle, funded by a generous army pension.

When Joe is suspended from his job for telling a claimant exactly what he thinks of him, he seeks solace watching the football round at Harry’s. But disaster strikes when Harry dies.

In the ensuing confusion, Joe makes the snap decision to pretend it is he who has passed away and steal his brother’s clothes, life and identity. He embarks on a fraud almost beyond imagining.

Forty four-year-old David, who hails from Blackpool, could not be happier about his return to TV in “The Street”.

“I’ve loved Jimmy McGovern’s writing ever since ‘Brookside’,” beams the actor, who has made his name in such acclaimed films as “Naked”, “Gangster No 1″, “Restoration”, “Seven Years In Tibet”, “Dragonheart” and “The Big Lebowski”.

“I thought the first series of ‘The Street’ was genius. The sheer quality of the writing attracted a very high calibre of actor. It was the best thing I’d seen on TV in years. It was like a return to the halcyon days of ‘Play For Today’ and who better to do that than Jimmy McGovern?”

The actor, who has garnered a whole new, youthful following in recent years as ‘Remus Lupin’ in the Harry Potter movies, says that it was not a hard decision to commit to “The Street”. “It was a no-brainer it was such a fantastic script. My agent sent it to me, and I got it within ten minutes.

“As soon as I read it, I thought, ‘what a genius idea’. It also appealed because it was the sort of gritty Northern character I always used to play. It’s the kind of part that established me in the first place.”

David, who will be seen next as the Nazi commandant in the film adaptation of John Boyne’s bestseller, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, says that he immediately hit it off with Bronagh Gallagher, who plays Mary, Joe’s put-upon and much-deceived wife.

“She’s such a great actress,” enthuses the actor, whose partner in real life is fellow actor Anna Friel, with whom he has a two-year-old daughter, Gracie. “I love Bronagh to death. In fact, I’m having dinner with her tonight. I couldn’t think of anyone better to play my wife.”

A multi-talented man who has also directed a movie (“Cheeky”) and written a first novel, “The Late Hector Kipling”, which was published in September, David observes that he was also drawn to the idea of playing two characters in “The Street”. “It’s very appealing to play twins because you get two roles in one film!

“But I have to admit it was a real challenge to take on both parts. The film is seen through Joe’s eyes. He has always known that Harry was the stronger of the two; Joe was picked on at school, while Harry fought as a paratrooper in the Falklands.

“Joe is downtrodden; he has a mundane marriage and difficult children, while Harry leads an enviable single life and has a pension. It’s easy to see why Joe has the idea of the life swap when Harry dies.”

David closes by paying tribute once again to the series creator: “The problem with so much TV drama is that writers don’t understand the process of story-telling, but Jimmy McGovern tells great stories. His scripts are so believable. He’s never written anything that’s not great and how many writers can you say that about?”

· Published | 19 October 2007
· Journalist | Anita Sethi
· Source | © BBC
· Credit | Submitted by Helia

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