Hap and Leonard show secrets with James Purefoy

We get behind the scenes exclusives from the Hap Collins actor about the thrilling AMC event series.

Hap and Leonard’s thrilling first season currently has us hooked on AMC – the drama channel, exclusive to BT customers.

James Purefoy (The Following), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) star as the lead characters and femme fatale Trudy Fawst in the East Texas noir, adapted from the books of Joe R Lansdale.

We caught up with Purefoy to talk about what it was like making the show, some behind-the-scenes secrets and where the drama is heading as the explosive finale rapidly approaches.

James Purefoy on the origins of the show…

James Purefoy in Hap and Leonard

Michael is an old friend. We’d done a show together a few years ago, but we always felt like we had unfinished business. We got on really well off camera, but we didn’t have enough scenes together. As we were packing up and leaving the set, we thought, ‘that was great, let’s do this another time’.

So when Michael sent this to me, I knew that the one thing we wouldn’t have to worry about was the chemistry. Michael and I, we’re not going to have to sit around talking about this relationship. We’re not going to have to create or work on that. There’s a lot of stuff in this show to work on, but that fundamental partnership with Hap and Leonard – we know that will crackle on screen.

James Purefoy on Michael Kenneth Williams…

Michael Kenneth Williams in Hap and Leonard on AMC

We come from such different backgrounds. He’s from the hood in Brooklyn and he’s had such an incredible life. I always feel so very boring, so very middle class when I do interviews with him. You find yourself saying, ‘you did what?!’ quite a few times.

But despite that difference, we have lots and lots in common as well. I just knew that we would work well together.

James Purefoy on why the show is important in 2017…

This is a show about a relationship between men. Let’s redefine that. Let’s not do the same old shtick. Let’s do something different with it. Especially in the context of 2017, and the questions about what men are and the troubles we have - we try to reflect that. Even though the show is set in 1987, their relationship still reflects on men in 2017. That’s one of the things about doing a period piece – how does that period speak to us now.



James Purefoy on racism and homophobia in Hap and Leonard…

I think that is the world that Joe Lansdale comes from. He comes from a very impoverished background, neither of his parents could read or write and he was self-taught. He’s a man who just has stories pouring out of him. He’s unusual. Maybe you have a view about what Texans are. But Joe isn’t that. He comes from a background where he saw racial discrimination and he’s just not prepared to lie about. Life in East Texas for a black man, who is gay, he’s not prepared to lie about it.

I think one of the big things that drew me to the show – although the framing device is a buddy comedy drama – it is peppered all the way through with little bubbles of social realism that are interesting and honest. It doesn’t ram anything down your throat. It’s just the classic thing – hold the mirror up to nature and reflect what is really happening on the ground in people’s lives.

James Purefoy on The American Dream…

Hap and Leonard on AMC

This show is about two men in their late 40s, who haven’t made it. That speaks a lot to people now. The implosion of the American dream. People have been told over and over again that if you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and work hard, the American dream is there for you. But these guys think, ‘God, we’ve been working hard’. They’ve done 12 hour days and worked hard, but quite frankly their time is running out. They’re in the late 40s and when is this dream going to arrive. I think a lot of people in America feel like that. They’ve been feed a pup.

James Purefoy on Hap and Trudy…

Christina Hendricks in Hap and Leonard

It’s like what Prince Charles said, ‘Love, whatever that is.’ She does love Hap, but she has other things going on and another agenda. He’s got another agenda as well. So it can never work. He is besotted by her and always has been. Despite the fact that she betrayed him when they were kids and just after they got married. He always has a soft spot for her in his heart, so his agenda is to win her back. But she wants the money to feed kids in an orphanage and you’re just waiting to see how far she’s willing to go to do that – you will find that out in episode 5.

[Read more: Six fascinating facts about Christina Hendricks]

James Purefoy on Soldier and Angel…

Hap and Leonard on AMC

Sometimes, I think drama is quite aspirational. Actors play characters in a way that we would perhaps like to behave, rather than how it really is. In episode four, it all kicks off and Hap and Leonard have only a couple of lines in the whole episode. They just don’t know how to deal with the situation. It is so violent and so horrific and they’re tied up, so they have to stay quiet and bide their time.
Pollyanna is fantastic because she’s just so… tall, muscular, sexy and terrifying. Simultaneously sexy and terrifying. Jimmy talks a lot in the show and he’s just incredible. His performance is extraordinary and off the scale-mad.

James Purefoy on the season finale…

I’m not going to tell you, but it’s about to get pretty damn crazy. **** happens and it’s nail-biting stuff. There are a lot of cartoonish elements to the violence, but we react in a real way to what’s going on and you’re going to see Hap get very scared.

James Purefoy on being duct taped to Michael Kenneth Williams…

Hap and Leonard Behind the Scenes

It’s fine for me, but Michael doesn’t like being restrained of constrained in any way. He likes to walk off, have a smoke, do whatever he wants to do. The idea of being tied to me with duct tape for hours on hours end is his worst nightmare. I have to keep him calm to stop him ripping the whole thing off otherwise we have to do the whole take again. For me, the angrier he gets, the funnier I find it.

Hap and Leonard airs on AMC – the drama channel exclusive to BT customers. Catch up on the series so far on BT TV Catch-Up.

Watch AMC on BT TV channel 332/381 HD.

New to BT? Learn more about BT TV >

Got BT Broadband? Add BT TV >


[Read more: Hap and Leonard on AMC - Meet the cast]

[Read more: 5 reasons you will love Hap and Leonard]

BT TV customers - Watch now on the BT Player

More from BT