Winter sun shines on in US mini-series

Mark Strong and Athena Karkanis in a scene from the TV series Low Winter Sun.
Mark Strong and Athena Karkanis in a scene from the TV series Low Winter Sun. Contributed by Foxtel publicity

WHAT happens when a cop is tasked with investigating the murder he committed?

That's the premise of the new psychological thriller Low Winter Sun, debuting on pay-TV channel FX this week.

The American mini-series, based on the original two-part British drama, follows Detroit detective Frank Agnew as he becomes tangled in a web of intrigue, suspicion and paranoia.

Mark Strong reprises the role of Agnew, who in the first few minutes of the show kills a fellow cop with the help of the cop's partner Joe Geddes, played by Lennie James.

But what led Strong to commit murder, and Geddes' true intentions are not immediately clear.

"This even happens in the first 10 minutes," said Strong.

"The rest of series is psychological fallout. In that sense I think it makes it much more interesting. It's not a whodunit. You know exactly who did it."

Low Winter Sun - FX - Tuesday at 8.30pm

When the Internal Affairs division begins to investigate the dead cop, who turns out to be dirty even by Detroit PD standards, Agnew is asked to investigate the case and Geddes begins to feel the heat of association with his now-dead partner.

Strong said he enjoyed returning to the role, although it's not the same Frank Agnew he played in the British series.

"I thought I'd put that character to bed.

"I thought that story was over and done with in Edinburgh, and eight years later I suddenly find myself playing a character with the same name in Detroit doing the same deed."

The 10-part series has allowed Strong, and the writers, to expand on the characters and storyline over 10 hours rather than three.

"We've gone to places with him I couldn't have dreamed of," Strong said.

"As an actor what you want to find are multi-layered characters whose stories you can flesh out.

"In 10 hours you have a lot more time to delve a lot deeper into where a character is coming from."

And where is good-cop-turned-cop-killer Frank Agnew coming from?

"Frank essentially believes himself to be and he is, as much as you can be in the murky world of the Detroit Police Department, a good man," he said.

"Frank plays his cards very close to his chest. It takes a while to really understand him and where he's coming from."

The real star of the drama is the city of Detroit, which serves as a bleak but sometimes beautiful backdrop.

"Being here it's not what the news seems to suggest. There are not muggings on every corner," Strong said.

"There's a lot of young people starting up new tech companies, there's a big arts scene here and there has always been a big music scene. The ruin people enjoy photographing is really just the outer layer. You come to realise there are some great people here."

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