Detective Joe Geddes is a man who is finding himself in more ways than one. The new AMC cop drama, “Low Winter Sun,” pairs Geddes, played by English actor Lennie James, with fellow Detroit detective, Frank Agnew, played by fellow Brit actor Mark Strong (“Green Lantern," “Zero Dark Thirty”). The twosome murders a corrupt colleague, leaving Geddes searching to regain his moral center — but alas, he and Agnew are assigned to find the murderer.
“He’s trying to rescue himself and the rescue begins with the death of his partner, whom he kills,” James says of Geddes. “He has been letting himself down for years and is trying to live up to his own expectations. He has a strong moral center and he’s acted against it for far too long.”
“Low Winter Sun” is based on a British mini-series of the same name that’s reset in Detroit. It’s far from a conventional cop drama, buddy saga or whodunit. “We know who did it,” says James. “Then, those two cops are put in place of investigating the crime they’ve committed. Our story is also about two guys unsolving a case as opposed to solving it.”
James early career included playing the bungling would-be criminal in Guy Ritchie’s “Snatch,” and more recently, roles in "The Walking Dead" and last year’s Guy Pearce-starring “Lockout.” James says he’s played many cops, but Geddes and his inner journey to salvation — not to mention this turnaround on the good cop-bad cop story — was a juicy role he relished.
“The first step onto the road to redemption is an heinous act of violence, which for an actor is just gravy,” says James. “It’s what you want to play; the more complex the character, the more difficult the situations. I’m someone who gets bored very quickly, so I like to be interested. This one, you can’t drop the ball — there’s a tension that exists in this story that you can’t let sag. This job has taken some proper lifting,” James adds, using an English colloquialism for tackling hard work, “ and I enjoyed that a lot.”
The 'Wire' effect
Will “Low Winter Sun” do for beleaguered Detroit what “The Wire” did for the resurgence of Baltimore? “Detroit is not just one of the characters, it’s a major character in this story,” emphasizes James. “If your police force, who are sworn to protect and serve, are killing each other in vats of water it says something about your city, it says something about your people.”