Mining script

Charlie Cooper was shocked by the script of See How They Run

It is undeniable that crime fiction is an infallible entertainment. From double-crossing to unraveling mysteries, every movie buff loves a cold-blooded murder case. Now the latest film in the beloved genre, See How They Run, is rushing to theaters, and to celebrate the big release, The Digital Fix sat down with one of the upcoming drama’s prime suspects – Charlie Cooper.

Directed by Tom George and set in 1950s London’s West End, See How They Run follows the murder of a sleazy Hollywood director who is killed during a celebration of Agatha Christie’s acclaimed play – The Mousetrap . The list of suspects is long, with the comedy cast featuring Ruth Wilson, Reece Shearsmith, Harris Dickinson and David Oyelowo. One of the people of interest is Dennis the Usher, played by none other than This Country co-creator Charlie Cooper.

In our interview with Cooper, we discuss his time working with George, filming during Covid-19, and the ethics of true crime stories. Most importantly, we learn how he reacted when he first read the script for See How They Run and how even he, a seasoned, award-winning writer, was bowled over by the big reveal of the upcoming film.

The Digital Fix: What was your first reaction when you read the character of Denis the usher?

Charlie Cooper: Yeah, I mean, I kind of knew instantly, as soon as I saw it, as soon as I saw the script in general, that this was something I really wanted to do. And I didn’t feel a million miles away from who I am anyway, which makes it easier in terms of the game (laughs). So yes, really attractive. Right away it was a yes.

Without spoiling anything, your character has a pretty strong connection to The Mousetrap game which is featured in See How They Run. Did you do any research before stepping into your role?

I did, yeah! I mean, I love murder mysteries. So it was quite exciting to be able to rediscover all of this, Agatha Christie and more particularly this play; I mean, I learned a lot, which was awesome. But I did research. Absolutely.

I think it’s always helpful to get into the character you didn’t know and familiarize yourself with the world you’re entering. But it’s still a lot of fun, and it was really, really fun too. Especially the fact that See How They Run is kind of a period piece in the 1950s. It was just like another aspect that I loved.

So you already worked with Tom George on the television series This Country? I wanted to know what it was like to be part of his first feature with See How They Run?

It was great because I know how he works. And we’re good friends anyway. So when he called me, he was like, ‘Look, I’ve just been asked to do this movie. I’m really scared. Do you want to do it with me? So I have a friend on set. And I was like, ‘Absolutely’.

Then when he told me who else was in it, I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Do you really want me and not someone better?’ He said, ‘no, I want you.’ So I was like, ‘good’. And yeah, that’s just the best thing ever. I mean, I would have felt really overwhelmed and terrified if I hadn’t had it there.
It feels like some kind of anxiety-reducing animal that you can take with you.

But because I know what he wants, and I know how he works, having done three sets of This Country, it was a really nice and heartwarming experience. And if I ever had any questions, I wasn’t afraid to ask him, which is great. I also like his way of working. You know, he’s so character driven and meticulous with details and everything. All that I love.

Charlie Cooper Interview See How They Run: The Mousetrap Poster

You said Tom called you. So is that how you got the role of Dennis? Or was there more to the casting process?

Yeah, he just called me and said, ‘Would you?’ and I just said, ‘Yeah, where do I sign.’

A really exciting point in See How They Run is the ethics of using real court cases for thrillers. And I want to know, because you’re also a writer and an actor, what do you think about using true crimes as inspirations for stories?

Well, if it’s done right, I don’t see a problem with that. I mean, I was actually in an ITV drama, and it was about a real case that happened locally from where I grew up. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I ended up doing it because it was quite close to my house.

And again, it was interesting to see this process because the whole family was involved and had various interviews with the writer, and we all went to lunch before production and everything. And it was so well done; it was by Jeff Pope, who is an amazing writer.

You know, you have people who have been involved in the story, who are okay with it and who are okay with it. He has their approval, and so, yes, we can absolutely say that. Sometimes, like, if it’s historical, it’s, it can be different, so when it comes to those cases, I’m not sure.

Charlie Cooper interview See How They Run: close-ups of the newspapers in See How They Run

You filmed See How They Run during Covid-19 during the second wave of UK lockdowns. Were there any challenges?

I guess this limited the ability to interact with the other actors. I think it limited rehearsal times and stuff like that. Which is a shame because sometimes you come to work and you want to be able to meet everyone or have time to improve things and get into your character. To learn more about other characters, and yes, it was just a bit limited when we didn’t have that freedom.

I don’t think there were any cases of Covid-19 during the whole production, which is a miracle, you know? Because it was so meticulous, all the testing, so I guess that side was so good in some ways too. Actually, I mean, the good thing about filming during the lockdowns is that we were able to film in these places like the Old Vic theater in the West End.

And because it was a light set, there weren’t as many people as there normally would be. So you’re in these incredible places, a little lonely sometimes. And sometimes you’d look at yourself and be like, ‘you know what, that’s really nice’ because you would never have had the opportunity to experience this any other way. But yes, it was a surreal experience. But again, the production was just brilliant in that regard.

Charlie Cooper interview See How They Run: Dennis the Usher talks to detectives

Looks like you had a lot of fun with this crime movie.

Yeah!

What were the best funny moments that stick out in your memory from your experience with the cast of See How They Run?

I mean, I got along really well with Jacob [Fortune-Lloyd], who played Gio. And we kind of got really bored one day and we just made up our own game where you had to throw this water bottle and put it on a chair from different points in the room. It sounds really bad. But we ended up creating these amazing rules, and we got a few of the other cast members involved.

And again, that’s the thing with Covid-19, because there’s a lot of waiting in a room, you had to fill that void for this time. So that was good. Yeah, there were some nice laughs, kind of a start and a lag.

So we briefly touched on this country and how you are a BAFTA-winning writer for your work on this show. After See How They Run, do you ever think of writing a thriller?

You know what? I would like. Absolutely. I mean, it’s something that looks like maybe it’s been overdone, but there’s always a way to make it fresh, I think. The great thing about this movie is actually that it uses all of these sorts of thriller tropes, like even the characters are characters that you would have seen in any whodunit of all time. But because it’s a comedy, you can shed some light on that, and that’s really nice.

I think I’d really like to approach it as a comedic murder mystery. Definitely do something like this. There’s so much room for that, I think. Because that’s what we love. I love watching all these documentaries about the murders, just awesome. Something about this really touches people’s interests.

Charlie Cooper See How They Run Interview: Adrien Brody as Murder Victim

So you wouldn’t adapt an Agatha Christie novel. Would you like to do something new and fresh?

Maybe not Agatha Christie, but something else? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, coming up with inventive ways to kill people is pretty fun, isn’t it? (Laughs)

(laughs) I mean, it depends who you ask, doesn’t it? So the great thing about whodunits is that everyone is suspect. As an actor, have you ever found it difficult to be suspicious but not too suspicious? How did you travel this line?

Yeah, I had talked to Tom about it a lot. I mean, it’s convenient. And he’s so good as an extra set of eyes. But I think a lot of it is in the editing and how they put these scenes together. I think it’s so mathematical if it makes sense?

It’s like how long you see a character on screen before it becomes too obvious that they might be the killer. There is a formula for this. Absolutely. And I think they found it through editing. But in terms of my character, it’s probably more on their shoulders than mine, I think.

But it’s really interesting how they put it together. I fall for red herring every time. Even though I’ve watched hundreds of murder mysteries. My partner always managed to figure out who the killer was right away, but I just don’t have that mind. So yes, I just fall for the red herring.

Were you shocked by the big reveal of See How They Run when you first read the script?

Totally! Yeah. Completely, which is really nice. Yeah, totally shocked. So, as a viewer watching it for the first time, I like to think everyone would be too.

Interview with Charlie Cooper See How They Run: a cake to celebrate the play The Mousetrap

So this country was a huge hit, and now you have See How They Run coming out. Can you tell us if you have anything else planned?

Not really. I just wrote at the moment; I have some beginnings on the project that I’m kind of trying to move forward. Yeah, I’m pretty slow with some things. I always have one project at a time. A bit lazy in that regard, but no other acting stuff, just that for now.

See How They Run hits theaters on September 9, 2022 in the UK and is set to be released in the US on September 16, 2022. For more murder cases, here are our guides to the best thrillers and the best action movies all time .