Up until a year ago Andrew Buchan was virtually unknown.
He had had various parts in Party Animals, The Fixer and Cranford, even taking the lead in Garrow’s Law, yet he remained largely anonymous to the British public.
That was until Broadchurch. The runaway success of the ITV murder drama, fronted by David Tennant and Olivia Colman, that saw Buchan propelled into the limelight.
The 35-year-old actor from Manchester played Mark Latimer, a grieving father dealing with the loss of his son who finds himself under police investigation for causing his death.
Buchan admits that the show has given him the most recognition he’s had. “Whereas prior to that there’d just been the occasional ‘hello’ in a pub or ‘were you that chap on…?’ and they’d still get it wrong. I was like ‘no, sorry, that’s not me,’” he said.
His newfound fame on Broadchurch has led the Rada-trained actor to an equally compelling new project, starring alongside Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in BBC2's The Honourable Woman.
In pictures: The Honourable Woman
In pictures: The Honourable Woman
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Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Nessa Stein, a woman who is trying to build links in the Middle East
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Andrew Buchan and Katherine Parkinson in 'The Honourable Woman'
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Maggie Gyllenhaal and Andrew Buchan play brother and sister in the political thriller
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Tobias Menzies stars as Nathaniel Bloom, Nessa's bodyguard
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Ephra and Nessa get into a heated argument
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Andrew Buchan as the "tormented" Ephra Stein
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Nessa and her team
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Ephra is left dismayed after an argument with his sister
The eight-part thriller, set against the backdrop of the Israel-Palestine conflict tells the story of Gyllenhaal’s character Nessa attempting to undo the damage caused by her father’s arms business.
Buchan plays Ephra Stein, the “tormented” brother of Nessa, but seems unfazed about working with an Oscar-nominated actress.
“She’s superb. […] Right from the word go [she] just burned with a desire to tell this exciting tale and tell it in the most honest and truthful way possible.”
In preparation for the role Buchan drew a map to geographically get to grips with conflict, “Because things are crackling away within the story that relate to these areas and so it was handy knowing where in the world we were dealing with”. All of which was supplemented by reading and speaking to other members of the international cast.
It is a difficult topic to tackle but Buchan says he had no reservations about working on the project.
“I said right from the word ‘go’ that this isn’t in effect a story about Israel Palestine and it is in no way trying to solve any of the conflict.
“What he’s trying to do is set familial issues and familial reconciliation and themes of hope, trust against the backdrop of that.”
Along with The Honourable Woman, he is now busy working on the second series of Broadchurch. The new series is being filmed in Somerset and Dorset, and will return to Broadchurch in the aftermath of the events from last year and feature the same characters.
The ITV show was a runaway success and saw nine million people tune in to watch last year’s finale. The suspense was so intense that Buchan found himself cornered by fans at bus stops desperate to know if he had “done it”.
“No, I didn’t kill him! Go away!” he says with a laugh, recalling the incident.
But the most surreal moment was when the actor was on holiday in Majorca and got stopped by a girl who wanted to know if he was the killer.
He puts on a French accent, “‘Was it you? I am halfway through watching and I wanted to know, did you do it?’ […] So it was from all corners of the universe.”
Broadchurch is now being adapted by American network Fox for a US audience under the title Gracepoint. The series will see Tennant reprise his role, albeit with an American accent, and paired up with Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn as Ellie Miller.
The first episode of Gracepoint has been written by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, who will also serve as executive producer on the series, but the ending is going to be different to the British version.
Buchan admits that he has not yet seen the trailer for Gracepoint, which was released a couple of months ago.
Nevertheless he is curious to watch the show and is full of praise for Michael Peña, who will be playing Mike Lasseter, his equivalent on the American version.
“It’s very exciting and apart from anything else, very flattering to be played by such an outstanding actor.”
After Broadchurch it will be back to auditioning. But with the success of British actors across the pond, including co-star Tennent, will he follow if Hollywood beckons?
“It’s always hard to say. You never say no to Hollywood, it’s all dependant on the script, isn’t it? But you’d be daft to say no them, I think, because it’s such great opportunity over there isn’t it?”
The Honourable Woman is on BBC Two on Thursdays