Vincent Regan (‘Hit & Miss’) interview

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Vincent Regan (Camelot, 300) stars as John in Hit & Miss, Sky Atlantic’s new drama series about a contract killer with a big secret: she’s a transgender woman.

Train. Kill. Receive payment. Repeat. This has been the routine for Mia ever since she was taken under the wing of Eddie, a long-standing resident of the criminal underworld, and transformed into a sharp-shooting assassin. Fate, however, ensures things don’t stay the same for long, and the arrival of a bombshell-laden letter from her ex, Wendy, changes Mia’s life forever.

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Created by Paul Abbott (Shameless), Hit & Miss is currently airing on Tuesday nights at 10pm on Sky Atlantic.

How would you describe your character?

“I play John, the farmer, who probably has no redeeming features whatsoever. Actually saying that he has one or two but they’re buried somewhere deep and they haven’t been dug up for a long time. John owns the smallholding that the kids live on now and he was carrying on with Wendy, their mum – or he was trying to carry on with her; he had a couple of little liaisons with her, because he thought she was the village bike. He treats women as pure sex objects, basically. He has absolutely no respect for them. And when we first see him he’s moved on from Wendy to carrying on with her daughter Riley.”

What does he make of Mia?

“With the arrival of Mia his first attitude is he’d quite like to sleep with her – because that’s how he treats all women. But he realises that this woman has become a rival alpha male in the whole set up. That really does put his nose out of joint. They have a little set to in a pub in which she humiliates him in front of all of his cronies, and so he decides that he’s going to get his revenge, and that he wants her off the holding. Because they haven’t paid their rent in god knows how long. So his whole idea is to get revenge on Chloë’s character and throw them all off the farm. But obviously Mia has a bit of cash because she’s a professional hitwoman. So she pays the rent and John can’t throw them off the land.

“Then, basically, Riley gets pregnant, much to the chagrin of John because his wife is pregnant as well. He’s desperate to get her to have an abortion. When she doesn’t he tries to force the issue and everything goes downhill from there.”

He sounds like a lovely guy…

“As I said, no redeeming features whatsoever. There are a few moments when you think that he might have some feelings for Riley, but they’re soon snuffed out by his general behaviour, which is obnoxious to say the least. He’s never had anyone tell him he’s not cock of the yard, and when someone does I think it reveals a deep insecurity. Just like any playground bully.”

Some of the more explicit scenes with Karla Crome must have been tough to play…

“You just have to be extremely prescriptive about everything you do – ‘we do this, we do that, we do the other, that’s it.’ You have to get the sense of violence but film it in such a way that it’s not too graphic.

“They were uncomfortable scenes to film but John never for one moment thinks he’s raping her – as far as he’s concerned no means yes. That of course makes him a typical bully-stroke-rapist. It’s a very dangerous relationship: she needs him and although he brutalises her she comes back for more. It’s incredibly damaged.”

Have you ever played anyone like John before?

“I can’t think I’ve ever played anyone quite so heinous before. Or messed up. And I’ve played some messed up people in my time. But they all have redeeming features. He has none. Saying that, as an actor you’ve got to find the redeeming features so you end up looking for the values he has – like the fact that he wants to keep his land and his farm strong for his young son.

“You have to find any reason why you can find this man plausible and supportable. But it can be quite hard. If you can’t find the light touches in such a dark character it can become two-dimensional – and you don’t want him to become a pantomime villain either. You have to search for his vulnerability, even though it’s quite deeply hidden.”

Why did you want to be part of this project?

“I’ve always wanted to work with Hettie [Macdonald, director] because I’ve loved her work in the past. In particular the Jonathan Harvey play [Beautiful Thing] they turned in to a film. I know Hettie from the theatre at the Royal Court so I was always keen to work with her. But the writing itself is just so off the wall when you read it: the imagination that comes up with characters and a situation like this. I mean a transgendered hitwoman? It’s like Nikita meets Emmerdale Farm.

“Anyone that can come out with a story like that I’m interested in. There’s also the fact that it’s coming out of Sky Atlantic. They’ve changed the landscape a bit when it comes to Sky and drama and how they see drama. They’re no longer the new kid on the block – they’ve well and truly arrived now.”

What keeps it in the realms of the plausible?

“It’s the fact that it’s played for real. It’s not sent up. When you have something that’s written as ‘out there’ as this you have to ground everything in the reality of the situation.

“As long as you do that, and all the actors play it for real, and it’s directed with truth – and not with those directorial flourishes that often come in when you do an ‘off-the-wall’ kind of drama – it can work. The more straight you play it the better chance you have and I definitely think that’s what we’ve gone for.”

What have you made of Chloë Sevigny?

“Well I know they took their time to get the right Mia and they certainly got the right one with Chloë. I think she’s fantastic. She is a New York actor first and foremost. She’s very East Coast – none of that West Coast starry attitude at all. None of the bullshit. She was just one of the cast, part of the team and really great to work with.”

> Order the DVD on Amazon.

What do you think of Hit & Miss so far? Let us know below…

Watch a video interview with Chloë Sevigny…