The gritty new No Man’s Land thriller, set in the midst of the Syrian civil war, sheds a light on conflicts in the Middle East.
The eight-part series focuses on the Frenchman Antoine Habert, who, after a suicide bombing in a war-torn region, mourns the death of his sister – a jumble of lives from all over the world entangled at the heart of the conflict.
But all isn’t as it seems. The finding sparks a rescue mission that takes him to the center of the IS-ravaged nation when Habert sees a woman he claims to be his sister in news footage of the war.
The series, directed by Oded Ruskin and starring James Krishna Floyd, Felix Moati, Melanie Thierry and James Purefoy, intersects countless lives with clandestine operatives of Islamic State sympathizers, voluntary militias and aid workers.
56-year-old Pennyworth and Rome’s actor Purefoy could play the part of Stanley, a shady member of a humanitarian organization.
“So much is hidden, and when you play characters who aren’t telling the truth, the audience kind of knows you’re lying,” he says with a smile.
One of the issues with that is that when the audience knows that you’re lying and the character you’re talking to doesn’t know that you’re lying, the audience is always trying to see whether they’d believe the lie if they were the other individual.
You play with the audience and the assumptions of the audience for you and your character. It’s fun to play that way with people.
No Man’s Land is a dark and treacherous tale that represents the realities of present conflicts. It is one that Purefoy loved for its glimmers of hope as much as for its dark, dramatic elements.
“A lot of the storylines in these stories are about people taking a step in [a]direction that they don’t know where that path will end up – and what they end up having to do to survive the choices they’ve made,” he says.
“It’s an interesting concept in terms of the little links in a chain that lead people to take a path in their life that they really didn’t know they were going to take until it’s a little too late.”
The matter of the subject
Purefoy says, “I think the scripts are really beautifully written, and it’s a theme I haven’t seen a lot of – either in movies or on TV,”
One of the aspects that they were really interested in, I guess, is that it’s not going to be a diplomatic play, but rather a play about people caught up in this fight.
It seems like a little bit of the Syrian civil war dropped off our radar; it’s still going on, it’s still raging, and it seemed like a good idea to do something about it and just shine a light on it again.
The mystery surrounding his personality
“[Stanley] is incredibly enigmatic and he seems to be in a lot of different places at once and his backstory is constantly changing depending on who he’s dealing with at the time,” Purefoy says.
His sexuality is changing, his history is changing, so you never really understand who he is. And even if you think he’s telling the truth, you really don’t really know that he’s telling the truth.
It’s fascinating how you play with perceptions and how…. he’s highly intelligent and super manipulative, in the sense that he puts out the version of himself that he feels would resonate better with the person he’s talking to, which we all do to some degree.
But he still doesn’t dislike telling absolute tall tales to get what he wants, okay. And it wasn’t what he wanted, it was what his paymaster wanted….
“He’s incredibly cryptic and we figure it out – I think by the end of the series we understand who he is and where he’s from and who he works for.”
I’m very proud to be involved in this because I think all eight episodes were directed by Oded, the director, our mad genius director that we have, which is very unusual on TV for a director to do that.
“Usually it’s like, you might have two directors, and while one director is filming, the other is scouting locations and editing what he just did,” he says.
“But with Oded it wasn’t like that, Oded was just out there every single day with incredible energy, style and empathy, and he was able to deliver the daily program every single day for months.”
The Analysis of Intelligence
I’ve just finished another series that’s on Amazon Prime right now, and it’s on Amazon Prime right now.