The next James Bond? Max Irons on spying, lying and his thrilling new series Condor

BT TV meets the charismatic English rising star who plays the lead in Universal TV’s new Jason Bourne-esque CIA drama Condor.

Max Irons could only ever have been an actor. Oozing charisma, those cheekbones and an splendidly old-fashioned English accent have sparked rumours that one day he could play a famous martini-sipping secret agent on the big screen.

The fact that he’s the son of Jeremy Irons and Sinéad Cusack, actually feels secondary once you’ve seen him in The White Queen, The Riot Club and now his biggest TV series yet – Condor.

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Condor on Universal TV

Condor is based on the James Grady novel Six Days of the Condor, which was previously turned into a film in 1975, Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford.

Irons plays CIA analyst Joe Turner, who finds himself alone and on the run after his suspicions and moral dilemmas about the work he’s been doing turn into a real-life crisis that places his life and millions of others in danger.

Already recommissioned for a second series, Condor is a classic cat-and-mouse thriller, where you can trust nobody and the line between good guys and bad guys is blurred and always moving.

Watch Condor if you loved…

Bodyguard, Homeland, The Night Manager, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.

7 Questions with Max Irons

1. Had you ever seen the film or read the book Six Days of Condor?

Condor on Universal TV

I’d seen the film, but when I was very young, too young to understand the significance of the film. When I got the part, I watched the film several times and read the book. The film is the thing that sticks with you because it is so iconic.

At the heart of it is Robert Redford giving the perfect performance, as stylish as always, and Sydney Pollack directing this suspenseful, paranoid thriller. But you don’t want to try and emulate or copy when you’re actor so while I think it’s important to watch it and absorb it, you then have to cancel and continue.

I think it only becomes a problem if you linger on it too much. But this is fine. The one I always think about is Hamlet: you’ve had so many successful interpretations. Or something like Doctor Who, that is nerve-wracking.

2. You do action sequences and spying in Condor. Do you wear a tux at any point, because if you do there is a rule that you must then be linked to playing a certain iconic movie character?

Condor on Universal TV

The next James Bond? I don’t think I get a tux moment in this. I’m just running around in T-shirts.

3. You need to get a tux scene in season 2

I don’t know if being linked to James Bond is a gift or a curse. You don’t want to come in too early in that race. There are actors, and I won’t mention any names, who three or four years ago were good applicants but now people are sick to the back teeth of them. You want to show up at the right time.

I’d rather play Jason Bourne.

Personally, if I got cast as James Bond, I’d probably have a mental breakdown. I’d be so terrified. That’s the truth. I’d call my agent and say, "I got it? Great. Book me some therapy".

4. What are you like at keeping secrets and telling lies?

I don’t think I’m very good. I get stressed telling lies and I show stress very easily. But that being said, I’ve never had to lie for my life. Maybe if I had to lie for my life, I’d get better.

Of course, a true spy would always claim they were bad at lying…

If you were a spy, it’s the best idea to create the persona that you’re not very good at lying, when In fact..!

5. Joe isn’t a typical CIA action hero is he?

Condor

I think that is what defines Joe more than any other quality.

What links us as the viewer to Joe is that he recognises that there are problems culturally and economically, structurally with our governing bodies, but he doesn’t know how best to deal with them.

The CIA personifies Joe’s feeling. Is it a necessity, does it provide more good than bad? Or is it in fact an unbenign influence on the world? And if that’s the case, do you try and destroy it or do you work from within to try change it?

6. The show has similarities with Bodyguard – why do you think there’s such a trend for paranoid thrillers at the moment?

Why do people look at car crashes? It’s a very odd but human thing we do. It does seem very timely, but then when the Sydney Pollack film came out in the 1970s, Watergate had just happened and people were equally suspicious of their government. So it also seems timeless.

But we are seeing a lot of things recently: Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Cambridge Analytica – we’re learning stuff about the infrastructure that has been built to protect us. Then it comes down to the individual and what constitutes protection. That’s a huge conversation.

Bringing it back to Condor, the fact that this is a TV series and not a movie means you have 10 episodes to get into that conversation. We don’t give you a wholesome, palatable answer at the end either – we leave it open for more conversations.

[Read more: What to watch after binging Bodyguard]

7. The show already has a season 2 – what do you know about that?

Condor on Universal TV

The only thing I know – they’re writing it right now – is that Russia is involved in some shape or form. Which works, because they’re everywhere. How it takes form, I don’t know.

It means, in real life, being away from your home a lot and family a lot, but the creative team are fantastic and there is so much more room with this character to take this.

Watch Condor on Universal TV - BT TV channel 320/385 HD.

Condor premieres on Monday, October 29th at 9pm. Catch up on the BT Player.

Universal Channel is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, National Geographic, AMC and many more.

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