Will Mellor plays armed response officer Rod Kennedy in the new series BBC2 corrupt cop drama Line of Duty (premieres on Thursday).
Here, he talks about playing an action man and reveals how the role brought out his competitive side…
Your character in Line of Duty is part of an armed response unit that anti-corruption squad AC-12 is investigating. What more can you tell us about them?
“The armed response team is like a family unit; you’ve got to trust each other and stand by each other. But there’s lots of tension and little lies being told within this team… there’s something suspicious about all of them.”
In next week’s second episode, Rod seems especially on edge and undercover officer Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) secretly thinks he could be persuaded to tell her bosses at AC-12 what he knows…
“Rod’s heavily involved with the rest of his team and now finds himself in a situation he really doesn’t want to be in.”
Did you enjoy getting to use a gun in this show?
“When I did another cop show, No Offence, I was gutted that I didn’t have a gun – and in this one I had two! I had a rifle, a gun on my hip and a Taser – I was like: ‘Give me it all’! But then I regretted it when I had to run 100 metres! I was like: ‘Take it off!’ It suddenly stops being so glamourous!”
What was firearms training like?
“It totally brought out my competitive streak in me because once they said: ‘We’re going to see who’s got the best shot’ I suddenly zoned in and I was like: ‘I have to win!’ Arsher (Ali, who plays PC Hari Baines) was doing really well and I think he got 47 out of 50 shots on target and I got 49. He pointed out that I took my time a bit more and I went: ‘Well, then there’s a lesson to be learned!'”
L-R: PC Rod Kennedy (Will Mellor), Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays), PC Hari Bains (Arsher Ali) andWPC Jackie Brickford (Leanne Best)
Sounds like you had fun…
“Yeah, we all really bonded as a team and became like our own little unit – we were just shooting guns, having a laugh and not talking about work and it made us closer. You need to have a bit of banter on set so that, when you’re doing your scenes, you know how far to go with each other.”
So have you enjoyed getting to play a bit of an action man?
“It is a bit of a dream – I did it all the time as a kid, so it feels like I’ve been rehearsing for this role all my life. I was over the moon when I heard I was getting a gun – kicking down doors while shouting ‘Armed police’, I could do that all day!”
Do you think it’s a job you could do for real?
“Well, because of my gun record, I got told by the professionals that I could have a job. But I’m a complete wuss really. I don’t go anywhere I can get shot at – I’ll keep that on the acting front!”
Line of Duty is known for its intense interrogation scenes. What’s it been like filming those?
“Thankfully, I get away with not doing a really lengthy one. When I read the script I was like: ‘Please, no, please, no, please, no… Yay, it’s not me!’ You’ve got to remember some serious jargon for those… it’s like being a doctor. When I did Casualty, I was so glad I was a receptionist, so I never had to use all that jargon!”
With Line of Duty, you’re never entirely sure who the corrupt officers are…
“I know! It’s all about the bosses from AC-12 trying to work out what’s gone on and what went down and the audience goes on that journey with them. There are lots of twists and turns that will keep people guessing right to the end.”
You’ve said in the past you wanted to get some serious drama roles under your belt and with Broadchurch, No Offence and now Line of Duty, you’ve achieved that. How does that feel?
“You know what it’s like in this country, nobody wants to be the first to take you out of ‘this’ box and put you in ‘that’ one. I’d actually be filming something like Jimmy McGovern’s The Street while I was making Two Pints of Lager. But, while The Street’s shown just once, something like Two Pints would be repeated for the next three years, so it seemed like that’s all I was doing. I then decided to be a bit more selective about the jobs I was doing and it seems people are now taking me a bit more seriously. Now, when the right characters come along, I just want to dive in and grab them.”