David Tennant Talks To BuzzyMag About Spies Of Warsaw

Buzzymag.com spoke to David Tennant about his new wartime drama series Spies Of Warsaw when he visited the USA last year. Read what he had to say about the drama below:

David Tennant: Spies Of Warsaw

In Spies Of Warsaw, Tennant is in fact a Scottish actor using an English accent to play a Frenchman posing as a German. Given that much of Spies is set in Warsaw, does Mercier ever pretend to be Polish? “No,” Tennant says. “He pretends to be German, and I had to learn some German, which was – wow. I hope it was all right. He doesn’t pretend to be Polish, because he’s very much a Frenchman, a Francophone. A lot of French was spoken, so Polish becomes our sort of base language for the piece. So when our characters are speaking in English, they’re speaking French, if you see what I mean. So there is some German, some Russian, but basically everyone is speaking French, which is English.”

Which, Tennant acknowledges, sounds a little confusing. He speaks German when Mercier is speaking German, though he allows he wasn’t always sure what he was saying. “I learned it by rote, so whether I’m managing to successfully convey the meaning in German, it will be for others to judge, not me.”

Besides German, is there anything else Tennant had to learn in order to play Mercier? “I learned how to fire the guns that we used – that’s always tricky. It’s not that it’s exceptionally difficult, but quite rightly and properly, a lot of health and safety surrounds those moments. So people come and stand around you and there’s a lot of, ‘Do not touch the gun, until …’ ‘Let me show you the edge of the barrel!’ In fact, it gets quite alarming, not because it is alarming, but because people have to be very protective and very clear, and that’s right and that’s proper, but it doesn’t feel like they’re very calm about these things – they’re really very exercised about it. [There was also] a bit of horse riding – I’m not a natural horseman, so there’s that. They were beautiful horses, and they were so easy to control, but by the end, you get a bit cocky – that’s the trouble,” he laughs. “By the end, I was thinking, ‘I can do this, I can do this,’ and of course, I get experts around to help.”

Tennant adds that he also researched the era of Spies. “I read a lot, I watched a lot and it’s a fascinating time period, I think, the late Thirties, as Europe was literally sort of coming to the boil. I did a movie a couple of years ago called Glorious ‘39 with Romola Garai, which is about that time and that moment in time. I think it’s a fascinating moment, because the history of Europe and the world pivoted in that time. I’m continually fascinated by that time, just because things could have been so different and the world we live in now been so different had Hitler been appeased, had France managed to form a sort of stable government. I’m fascinated by those moments in history that sort of change things forever and I find myself looking for the modern equivalents. Is Lehman Brothers [in the Wall Street collapse] one of those moments that changed the future of everything? I don’t know.”

On the award-winning screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who adapted Spies Of Warsaw from the novels by Alan Furst he says: “They’re legends. I was weaned on their stuff – Porridge and The Likely Lads and Auf Wiedersehen Pet. They’re legendary figures. So when you get a script with their names on the front, it’s quite humbling to think that you might be working with guys who you know their stuff so well.

David also talks about fame in the USA and those infamous Doctor Who cast and crew farewell videos

Watch the concluding episode of Spies Of Warsaw on BBC America tonight at 9pm/8c.