He’s used to playing villains, but even when Mark Strong plays a good guy he ends up making bad choices.
The British actor’s new show “Temple,” based on a Norwegian drama and with a Monday premiere on Spectrum, deals with how people react when standing at an ethical crossroads.
Strong stars as Daniel Milton, a British surgeon whose life is turned upside down when his wife (Catherine McCormack) is diagnosed with an incurable, fatal disease. With few other options research a cure, Daniel opens an illegal medical clinic alongside new friend and doomsday prepper Lee Simmons (Daniel Mays).
After a career playing the heavy in movies like “Kick-Ass,” “Green Lantern” and “Shazam!” the 55-year-old actor has found a gray area.
“You have a character who was faced with that moral dilemma: Was he a hero or was he a villain?” Strong told the Daily News.
“He crossed a moral rubicon. He made some moral choices that he would have never made if he wasn’t forced into that situation.”
Daniel’s illegal clinic, tucked into the deserted tunnels underneath an operational London subway station, attracts all kinds: criminals with nowhere else to turn, patients who can’t afford hospital bills. Eventually, it also attracts his wife’s colleague (Carice van Houten), a research scientist who may be the only answer to her disease.
“He’s making morally dubious choices that are perhaps unacceptable, but because they’re for a good cause, perhaps you would forgive him,” Strong said of Daniel’s illegal practice. “Each individual has their own parameters. With drama, the reason why we watch it is because we’re measuring ourselves against what we’re watching. Would I do that? Would I behave like that? Is that going too far? Would I do more?”
“Temple,” in the basest sense, is about what you would do for the ones you love.
Daniel, at times, excuses his bad actions by countering them with his good, with the lives he’s saved as a doctor.
“Unlike Walter White who enjoys that darkness, Daniel isn’t that character. He’s been presented with that extraordinary circumstance,” said Strong, who executive produced the show with wife Liza Marshall.
“He’s trying desperately to make things good and make things right and do the right thing all the time, but he doesn’t always succeed. Sometimes he makes things worse by his good intentions.”
“Temple,” which first premiered on Sky One in England last year, has already been renewed for a second season, a saving grace considering the season finale’s intense cliffhanger. Now the writers’ room gets to take the show past its inspiration and dig deeper into the characters, the clinic and the science. Strong was tight-lipped on where the show is headed, but promised that Daniel’s decisions won’t become any easier.
“Anybody faced with that dilemma would have to make choices,” Strong said.
“How far would a person go for love?”
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