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Gary Oldman on the difference between Slow Horses and classic John le Carre

Gary Oldman arrives for the premiere of Slow Horses (Ian West/PA)
Gary Oldman arrives for the premiere of Slow Horses (Ian West/PA)

Gary Oldman has said the source material of his new espionage series Slow Horses differs from the work of revered author John le Carre because of its “biting wit”.

The spy thriller, which airs on Apple TV+, is adapted from award-winning writer Mick Herron’s 2010 novel about a team of British intelligence agents who work in a dumping ground department of MI5.

A lifelong fan of British author le Carre, Herron has been described as the heir to his legacy in the field of spy thriller novels.

Le Carre, who wrote best-selling novels including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and The Night Manager, died in December 2020 aged 89.

Slow Horses
Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb (Slow Horses/Apple TV+/PA)

Oscar award-winning actor Oldman appears as Jackson Lamb, the leader of spies who have ended up in Slough House after making career-ending mistakes, and said the “human” drama of the story set it apart.

He told the PA news agency: “Mick has achieved a wonderful thing. People sort of say that (he) is the heir to John le Carre – there’s people out there that believe he is better than le Carre.

“But what he’s done is he’s taken that world and really humanised it and injected this humour, a biting sort of wit to it. That’s what sets them apart.

“Having discovered the books through the series, reading Slow Horses, I just thought, ‘Good heavens, if the scripts are as good as the book…’

“Just the human (element), it really gripped me, you know. It’s a world you’re familiar with, but he does something so wonderful with it.”

Slow Horses premiere – London
Jack Lowden (Ian West/PA)

Talking about his unhygienic, ill-mannered character, Oldman added: “No vanity. Doesn’t give an eff. And to be that liberated and cynical, it’s delicious stuff.

“And sparring with River. It’s a great, really nice dynamic.”

Jack Lowden stars as River Cartwright, an agent exiled to Slough House after a botched and publicly embarrassing training mission.

Addressing their characters’ relationship, Oldman said: “I think it’s tough. I think it’s a tough love thing.

“I think that he sees potential in Cartwright, even in spite of himself, because he has a whole history with the grandfather.

“But he sees something in River, and I think that’s particularly why Jackson rides him as hard as he does.”

The series has premiered on Apple TV+ with new episodes every Friday.

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