We’ve all been there: A dear friend is acting in a way that’s not in their best interest, and no matter what we say or do, we can’t get them to listen to reason. But what if you could force someone to do the right thing?
“Ill Behaviour,” a six-part BBC comedy that’s coming to Showtime on Monday, takes that premise to its bonkers extreme. When Charlie (Tom Riley) is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and decides to fight it naturally instead of undergoing chemotherapy, his best friends Joel (Chris Geere) and Tess (Jessica Regan), hatch a super disturbing plan to save his life. They hold him captive in a castle in the British countryside, where Nadia (Lizzy Caplan), an alcoholic, drug-addicted doctor, whom Joel’s in love with, force feeds him his chemotherapy treatments.
What results is a twisted and hilarious descent into delusion from creator Sam Bain (“Peep Show”) and led by Geere’s Joel, whose psychopathic tendencies make his character Jimmy in “You’re the Worst” seem like a sweet, harmless guy (and not egomaniacal trash) in comparison.
We spoke with the 36-year-old British actor about playing charming/delusional antiheroes, Jimmy’s trajectory in “You’re the Worst” season four and why woo-woo medicine is actually the worst.
What’s intriguing about the premise of this show is that although Joel and Tess are acting completely insane, they aren’t wrong.
The initial idea is so bizarre that you think they can’t pull it of. Playing Joel, I had to one hundred percent believe this idea is going to work, that kidnapping Charlie would be fine and no one would ever learn about it. Sam Bain wanted to write a story about the lengths someone would go to to save someone’s life.
And it’s partly a true story: Sam had a friend who had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and decided to try to heal naturally, and he died. Sam kept thinking, “Is there anything I could have done?”
Does woo-woo medicine make you angry?
All of us try and lead a healthy life, but there are a million things we aren’t in control of. You’ve got to look at science in the end. Chemotherapy has a 96 percent success rate, and carrot juice has zero. The fact that Charlie’s not listening to Joel is infuriating.
When we were researching and were lucky enough to go to the Lymphoma Association and speak to some patients and some doctors, I said to the nurse, “Does this happen?” and it does. It wasn’t just Sam and his friend. So many people every single year say they don’t want to poison their body with chemotherapy, but it comes down to the individual in the end. You can’t really say what you would do until you’re in that situation.
Joel really puts Jimmy’s worst-dom in perspective. Can you imagine Jimmy sinking to these levels?
No, he’s not selfless enough. Even though Joel’s actions are awful and illegal, there’s good will and good intention behind all of it. Besides Gretchen [Aya Cash in “You’re the Worst”], I don’t think Jimmy’s ever done something as selfless as Joel.
He’s not even that nice to Gretchen though, is he?
Well, he’s been awful to Gretchen too, but he’s fighting for her now. I think finally, four seasons in, Jimmy is willing to grow and change.
It seems like I keep being cast as this anti-hero type guy [Laughs]. [Jimmy and Joel] are similar in that you’re rooting for both of them despite their flaws, but the thing they have in common mostly is that they rarely learn from their mistakes, which I thought was really fun to play with.