Lennie James: Save Me star on recognising 'ignored and overlooked heroes'

June 22, 2020

Lennie James says we need to ditch our obsession with fame and start to value the "everyday heroes" who contribute to society in less glamorous occupations.

Speaking from Austin, Texas, the writer and actor told Sky News: "There is an unconscious pressure put on particularly young black men growing up in inner city or urban environment, that you have to be special to be anything. And by special, they mean famous.

"You have to be a famous boxer, famous footballer, famous actor, famous blogger for whatever it is. You have to be special to have a voice. You have to be special to have influence.

"And in the meantime, those black men and women who are getting up and doing what most people are doing - which is struggling through the week in the hope of having a good weekend, and working sometimes two or three jobs in order to provide for their kids - those people are often overlooked and ignored."

James says while it's a good that those in the public eye use their profile to highlight important issues, "we should also listen to the everyday regular people whose voices are just as important and whose life experiences are just as valid".

As an actor with over 70 TV and film credits to his name, James has a pretty impressive platform himself, and has achieved international recognition after roles in US shows Jericho and The Walking Dead.

But his latest project, Sky Atlantic's Save Me Too, is a little closer to home.

The Sky original production is the follow-up to his hit 2018 thriller Save Me - and is produced by the same team behind Line Of Duty, in which James also stars.

The drama follows southeast London native Nelson "Nelly" Rowe, an avid drinker and womaniser whose life is turned upside down when he is accused of kidnapping his 13-year-old daughter, whom he barely knew.

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The sequel picks up 17-months after the first series, as Nelly pulls on his faithful yellow puffer jacket once again and continues his desperate quest to find Jody.

It's been positively received by both fans and critics alike, a fact James puts down to the show's clever approach.

He told Sky News: "I think [people like it] because it is a thriller set in in an unusual place, taking a less than obvious angle on what could be seen as a familiar story."

Despite his success as a writer and producer, James maintains that it's his on-screen duties he enjoys the most.

"There's too many questions as far as the writing is concerned and too much time spent on your own in a in a slightly questionably lit room trying to punch out all the words in the story for everybody," he said.

"Acting is much easier and is the path of least resistance."

James will be taking part in the British Film Institute's At Home event tonight at 7pm UK time on BFI YouTube.

All episodes of Save Me Too, which also stars Suranne Jones, Stephen Graham and Jason Flemyng, are now available on Sky Atlantic on demand and NOW TV, as well as on DVD.

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