A movie version of crime series “Luther” is moving forward, with writer-creator Neil Cross working on the script, the show’s star Idris Elba confirmed at the launch of Season 5 in London.
“We are really advancing on getting a movie version [of the show] up on the screen,” Elba said. “Neil is beavering away on writing this thing, and I think the remit for the film is to scale it up.”
Elba added: “‘Luther’ has all the ingredients to echo those classic [neo-noir] films of the 90s like ‘Seven’ and ‘Along Came a Spider,’ and I think what we would like to do is use that blueprint to create ‘Luther’ the film.”
He continued: “It will be more murder, more Volvos, more frowning Luther… essentially we just want to try to take it to a much bigger audience and scale, and perhaps international as well.”
Asked where else the show could travel to, beyond its native London, Elba said: “The trick is … it would have to be a city. The reason cities work is there are lots of shadows and so I think those cities that have that Gotham-esque vibe to them, and I think that is mainly Europe. A film version would transfer quite easily to cities in Europe but who knows – wherever there is crime Luther will go.”
In a recent interview Elba had said Season 5 is serving as a “segue” to a movie version, if it comes together. “This one’s very particular because I think it’s one of our last TV instalments – I shouldn’t say that as a matter of fact, but it was designed in the sense that Neil’s and my ambition is to take it to a larger screen,” he said, according to Drama Quarterly. “We paid attention to what we were writing in this show. If we are to make a movie, this show is essentially a segue to that.”
At the Season 5 launch, held in an old court house in Shoreditch, East London, now converted into a posh hotel, Elba elaborated on how the latest four-episode season, which airs in the first week of January in the U.K. and later in the year in the U.S., stands apart from previous outings. He was joined by veteran cast members Ruth Wilson, who plays femme fatale and evil genius Alice Morgan, and Michael Smiley, who plays computer wizard Benny Silver, and newbies Wunmi Mosaku, cast as Luther’s new sidekick, Catherine Halliday, and Hermione Norris, who is the chilling psychiatrist Dr. Vivien Lake.
“In this particular season there is one antagonist… so many things fall out of that and it becomes a very complex web, and Alice turns up and she isn’t here to give me Christmas cards, she’s here to give me a headache,” Elba said. “What is really special about this particular season is it is four episodes in one movie, and it starts to unfold, and unfold, and unfold… it is pretty scary.”
Elaborating on her character’s impact on proceedings, Wilson said: “She creates chaos… She is always off the rails. [Alice doesn’t] stick to any rules; she’s always trying to pull Luther to the dark side, and it works quite frequently… but she’s vulnerable and she needs his help.”
In the run up to the filming of Season 5 there was much speculation whether Alice would return, and even Wilson wasn’t 100% sure her character had survived. “I didn’t know for sure,” she said. “I watched it and thought: she’s not dead. She’s never dead. You can’t kill her and not see it, right?” However, she had no hesitation when offered the chance to return for Season 5. “Yeah, I was keen to come back and get these two back together. Idris and I had been working on this for eight years, with this relationship growing.” But, she concedes, Alice may not have gained a great deal of maturity in that time. Alice is “like a naughty girl,” she said. “It is really fun to do. She plays many different roles, and she’s got lots of different wigs.”
Halliday is a young cop on the fast-track to the top. “It’s a thing Neil is quite fixated on – the old school detective and the new generation, the newer style detective with ethics,” Elba said. “With Luther it is always a dilemma. What does he tell this new sidekick? What does he encourage?”
Mosaku, who won a BAFTA last year for “Damilola, Our Loved Boy,” added: “I think she’s really bright – she comes up with a lot of different ideas and hypotheses. She’s the brains and…,” she trails off, giving a side-long glance at Elba and Smiley. “She’s not afraid to speak up, but still… [Luther is] the boss. She wants to learn but she wants to stick to the rules. They are like chalk and cheese… but they work well together.”
It’s been three years since the last season aired, but Elba said he was comfortable with such an extended period between seasons. “It’s one of those shows that needs to be made into bite sizes because it is very dark, and I think for Neil Cross’, the producers’ and my sanity I don’t think we can do this the whole time,” he said. “I think we like it that way personally, and the audience and the fans have grown to know it doesn’t come every year, and that we do it slightly differently.”