James Nesbitt reveals why he signed up for Netflix series

James Nesbitt has said doing a Netflix original series was “an opportunity to open a different door again”.

The Northern Irish actor, 56, stars in forthcoming thriller Stay Close, based on the Harlan Coben book of the same name.

The eight-part crime drama sees Nesbitt playing a detective, Michael Broome, who is haunted by an unsolved case, and features famed US thriller writer Coben as an executive producer.

Jo Joyner and James Nesbitt in Stay Close
Jo Joyner and James Nesbitt in Stay Close (Vishal Sharma/PA)

Nesbitt told the PA news agency: “I know I’ve played a lot of policemen, recently that’s all I seem to do is play a policeman.

“Obviously people recognise the good in me, or the screw-up in me, but this character was optimistic.

“I’ve played a lot of extreme characters in the last while, and I just thought, there was someone who is one of the good guys in a way, but yet with a complicated internal kind of process going on his life and in his mind. So I loved that.

“Everything I thought about this job, the boxes that you hope to be able to tick, it turns out that it was very easy early on to be able to tick.

“Also, I’ve never done a Netflix original series. I haven’t done anything like that before, and so just the scale of that, it was an opportunity to open a different door again, when so many doors have been closed.”

The series, which focuses on “four people who conceal dark secrets” from those close to them, also stars Cush Jumbo, Eddie Izzard, Jo Joyner, Sarah Parish, Richard Armitage and Daniel Francis.

Filming for the series took place earlier in the year in and around Manchester and the north-west of England.

Speaking during filming in June, and asked about Covid restrictions, former EastEnders actress Joyner said of the first cast read-through that it was “incredibly strange”, adding: “It was like being in something from ET, we were in shower cubicles with iPads and tests and masks.”

Nesbitt added: “Even at the best of times, I’m a terrible pacer, I pace and pace. My mother and father, my whole childhood was them saying, ‘James, sit down’.

“And so I suppose I felt a bit kind of caged in a way. That’s not to say I wasn’t in a very comfortable cage, I’m aware of that.

“But it was just funny, we were talking about, Jo (Joyner) mentioned that read-through, and I haven’t sat, stopped, and thought about it and, just looking back at that, to a bunch of actors, people in a Netflix series, very privileged and all that.

“But when I look back at that, I see our version of what the world had become and it’s really quite painful, because there’s something really raw about that, because actually, it’s opening a window to me into what happened.

“It just makes me think of my teenage daughters, who missed out on a lot of things.

“That snowballs and snowballs and God, you hope it gets better, but also you just hope that people remember what sustained them through it, in terms of community and friendship support.”

Stay Close is the latest Netflix project for prolific US author Coben, as part of his five-year deal with the streaming giant.

His other TV projects include The Stranger, The Five and Safe.

Stay Close launches on Netflix on December 31.