×

John Simm Talks ‘Cold Courage’ as Lionsgate Boards International Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

John Simm plays a rabble-rousing populist politician in “Cold Courage,” and Lionsgate has stepped up and taken international rights to the series.

Based on the series of novels by Pekka Hiltunen, the drama is billed as the biggest yet out of Finland and will bow on the Viaplay streaming service in Scandinavia. With a cast from all over Europe and a shoot spanning Belgium, Finland, Ireland, and the U.K., “Cold Courage” is international in scope and ambition.

That was part of the appeal for Simm, a familiar face on British TV, playing The Master in “Doctor Who” and starring in a host of other shows for British networks. “There was a point I was on BBC and ITV at the same time and that was a bit much,” he told Variety. “I thought it would be nice to step away from that for a little bit and do something I haven’t done, and this is an international show.”

He plays Arthur Fried, a businessman and firebrand right-wing politician. He is in the cross hairs of a covert agency that attempts to bring down powerful wrongdoers. Two young Finnish women are leading that effort with Pihla Viitala (“Deadwind”) and Sofia Pekkari (“Wallander”) playing the female leads. “They go after him and there are grey areas of morality, where good people do bad things with good objectives, and bad people sometime do good things,” Simm explained. “It’s set in the fake news world we are living in.”

Caroline Goodall (“The Dressmaker”), Jakob Eklund (“Johan Falk”), Arsher Ali (“Informer”), Peter Coonan (“Love/Hate”), and Matteo Simoni (“Call Boys”) also star. Agneta Fagerström-Olsson (‘Seppan”) directs alongside Kadir Balci (“Marry Me”).

“He’s a horrible character and that’s a challenge,” Simm said of Fried. “He’s charming, affable, urbane and he’s great company. That’s the interesting thing about him. With someone like The Master [in ‘Doctor Who’]… he’s just a made up character and it’s much easier to do. With this guy, there are real people like this.”

He added that he did not base Fried on any one particular real-life figure although there is no shortage of real-world inspiration. “I looked at lots of horrendous politicians,” he said. “I can’t get inside their heads because I don’t believe their philosophy, but you just have to go for it. I just have to serve the script, and the script is great.”

The show is produced by Markku Flink at Finland’s Luminoir. Belgium’s A Private View, Ireland’s Vico Films, and Sagafilm out of Iceland are co-producers.

Brendan Foley and David Joss Buckley wrote the series, which sets out to capture a reality in which fake news and populist politics hold sway. “One of the great challenges of writing such an up-to-the-minute series is the point at which our ever-changing rolling-news reality collides with drama,” Foley said.

Rights were previously with Global Road, which dropped out amid its well-documented troubles. Lionsgate is now across distribution. It has previously sold Scandi series “Swedish Dicks,” and recently took U.S. remake rights to Swedish comedy “Veni Vidi Vici.” It will take “Cold Courage” to market at MipTV in Cannes.

More TV

  • Caroll Spinney, with "Oscar the Grouch,"

    Caroll Spinney, Puppeteer Behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, Dies at 85

    Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for 50 years at “Sesame Street,” died in Connecticut after living with dystonia. He was 85. Sesame Workshop announced his death on their site, calling him an “artistic genius” whose “legacy here at Sesame Workshop and in the cultural firmament will be unending.” [...]

  • Stephen Colbert Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus Talks 'Seinfeld,' 'Sexist' Environment at 'SNL' in Q&A With Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert and Julia Louis-Dreyfus swapped stories about “Saturday Night Live,” Northwestern University, “Seinfeld” and the possibility of running for office during a Q&A held Saturday as part of Montclair Film Festival’s annual “Evening with Stephen Colbert” fundraiser. Colbert, a Montclair resident, has long been a booster of the festival, which is going into its [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jennifer Lopez"

    'Saturday Night Live' Offers Prayers for Trump (Watch)

    “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kate McKinnon resumed her role as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the Dec. 7 episode to offer a few prayers for Donald Trump. During the “Weekend Update” segment, co-anchor and “SNL” co-head writer Colin Jost first commented on Pelosi being asked if she hated President Trump during her [...]

  • Spongebob Squarepants Mr Kiasu

    Singapore Comiccon: Spongebob Squarepants Collides With Local Character Mr Kiasu

    Enormously popular Nickelodeon character, SpongeBob SquarePants is 20 this year. To commemorate the anniversary Nickelodeon commissioned Singaporean artist Johnny Lau, creator of iconic local animated character Mr Kiasu, to draw a coffee table book converging the wildly diverse worlds of the two. Lau released the book “Mr Kiasu Meets SpongeBob SquarePants” at the Singapore ComicCon [...]

  • America's Got Talent Simon Cowell

    Simon Cowell Lawyers Up From Abroad as 'America's Got Talent' Investigation Begins (EXCLUSIVE)

    “America’s Got Talent” executive producer Simon Cowell has set his legal representation for an investigation into the NBC competition series, which was announced by the network this week after a lengthy meeting with ousted judge Gabrielle Union. Cowell has hired Larry Stein, a longtime litigator in Hollywood and media spaces, multiple individuals familiar with the [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds' Aviation Gin Hijacks 'Peloton

    Ryan Reynolds Hijacks 'Peloton Wife,' Wrings New Buzz From Old Ad Trick

    The “Peloton Wife” is on the verge of striking up a new relationship outside her marriage The actress who plays the controversial Madison Avenue figure in a commercial for the luxury physical-fitness company is back in a new ad campaign – for another marketer that has little to do with promoting a healthy lifestyle. Aviation [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content