Exclusive: Sam Riley Talks Brighton Rock

Pinkie is not perky

Exclusive: Sam Riley Talks Brighton Rock

by Phil de Semlyen |
Published on

Brighton Rock, like True Grit, is another novel-turned-movie being revisited on our screens in coming months. Like the Coens' latest, the source material - Graham Greene's 1938 novel - brims with barely suppressed violence and deeply religious undertones. A thin parallel? Well, maybe, but the spectre of sin and retribution lingers over both like an acrid cloud.

Rowan Joffé's adaptation moves the story from the '30s setting of the book, and John Boulting's adaptation, to pre-mod 1964, the final year of the death penalty in Britain. "There's more of Greene's violence, more religious confusion, and the sexual anxiety is more prominent in our Pinkie," says Sam Riley, the man who plays him, of the new incarnation of Sussex's most famous screen sociopath.

Brighton Rock's protagonist Pinkie Brown is a Catholic, although not one to let his faith stand in the way of murder, cruelty and casual violence. "You've always got to root for your characters even if they feel like bastards," laughs Sam Riley, whose casting offers a big leap along the troubled spectrum from Control's Ian Curtis. "You have to find something in it. Pinkie's not had a lot of love in his life."

True indeed. This is a man so tormented by his own nihilism not even a donkey ride along Brighton Beach would cheer him up. His marriage to innocent waitress Rose (Andrea Riseborough), based on expediency as much as love - she's a possibly witness to a murder - may offer redemption, though as Riley points out, "It's a pretty twisted kind of love."

Can Riley capture the sociopathic menace of Pinkie and match Richard Attenborough's icon-making turn? Find out when Brighton Rock hits our screens on February 4, 2011.

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