Following the season finale of Slow Horses, streaming now on Apple TV+, CBR sat down for an exclusive interview with Dustin Demri-Burns and Rosalind Eleazar. The pair spoke about their partnership in the spy thriller/comedy and the important trick to balancing comedy and drama in the series.
CBR: A lot of what makes the comedy in Slow Horses work is the otherwise serious tone. It’s, in effect, a pure spy thriller, just one punctuated with bumbling and idiocy. As performers, how do you approach a project like this — do you openly lean more into the comedic elements, or do you play it completely straight?
Dustin Demri-Burns: That’s a good question.
Rosalind Eleazar: What attracted me to it was that I couldn’t really place it in a genre. It wasn’t quite a spy story, and it wasn’t a comedy. It had a bit of both. I felt like most people just… this sounds really frenetic, but just kind of played it for what it is. The truth is, if anything, I would probably lean to the side of more drama, and then the comedy comes out because the lines… Will Smith is a brilliant writer. Just the lines are funny, so you don’t need to… you don’t really need to do much more than that. I think if our intentions as the actors/characters are right, then the comedy nicely just bounces off the surface.
Demri-Burns: Totally. It was a bit like, What’s the tone of this even?” while reading the books, but because it’s its own thing… That’s what makes it a successful series of books, and then hopefully a successful TV show. It’s serious, you play it for what it is, and you play. The truth of it is even if you do big, broad comedy, sometimes, depending on the character, you still serve the comedy. You still got a bit of truth within that [play up the comedy]. You just have to play it for what it is, and in that, within that world, I guess you’re probably leaning slightly on this side of caution.
Eleazar: I don’t think this show would work if we played it for comedy because then the stakes are removed. So I feel like everyone kind of just played it seriously.
Demri-Burns: If a character is having fun, if it’s written that the character is having fun in that moment or trying to be funny, then you inhabit that, and you start having fun… If a situation is very funny, but the character is in a dark place, then you have to play it dark. That’s what’s going to be funny is that it’s that contrast.
What would you say surprised you both the most about Min and Louisa over the course of these first six episodes that you maybe hadn’t expected when you first signed onto the series?
Eleazar: I mean, for me — this is going to be a lovely compliment for [Dustin]. I think what surprised me was our relationship off-screen in some ways mirrored [our relationship] on-screen… Yeah, that’s pretty much like what we’re like in real life with each other. So I think for me, that was a very nice surprise that it was very easy for us to fall into what kind of a cute friendship there.
Demri-Burns: It does feel very natural performing it. Yeah. It didn’t feel… Yeah, for sure. That’s a good answer.
Eleazar: He’s gonna steal that answer and use it later.
Catch Slow Horses, streaming now on Apple TV+.
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