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Questions with John Simm


Prey star John Simm plays Marcus Farrow, a detective forced on the run after being accused of murdering his wife and son. Here he discusses filming in his “spiritual home” of Manchester, his frustrating on-set injury, and the “revelation” that is costar Rosie Cavaliero.

Tell us about your character, DS Marcus Farrow.

Simm: Marcus Farrow is a hardworking Manchester detective and he’s devoted to his family. However, when we first meet him it’s fair to say that his relationship with his wife Abi (played by Heather Peace) is going through a “rough patch” — he’s living apart from them, but is confident that they can get their relationship back on track. He’s a great dad and would do anything for his two boys.


Farrow quickly becomes a man on the run. How did you prepare for all the stunts and action?

Simm: It was a very physical role with lots of running, hanging off bridges, and climbing fences — hard work, but I must say I absolutely loved it. I prepared by upping my gym work. When you hit your mid forties, it’s a good idea to keep fitness levels up!

What advantages does Marcus have in trying to outsmart the police who are hunting him down?

Simm: He’s a detective, so he knows the methods they’ll use to find him and he also knows Manchester. He’s always one step ahead. When he’s really up against it, he gets desperate and is willing to go to any lengths to prove his innocence. That’s when we see how good he is at his job.

You suffered an injury during filming. What happened?

Simm: We were filming the scene where Marcus is being chased through fields and ends up wading through a river. It was very cold, and we were on about the third take of me clambering up this wet verge. Then as I launched myself forward, my foot slipped and I felt my calf muscle tear. I’d never torn any muscle before, but there’s a first time for everything! It was frustrating, as we had to halt filming for a while as the muscle healed, but I was raring to go once we resumed and there were no more problems.


What were your thoughts when you first read Prey‘s script?

Simm: The script reminded me of The Fugitive, and I’m a big fan of Harrison Ford, so it was exciting to say yes to it. As a father, I can absolutely relate to the horror Farrow feels when he finds himself in this situation. Sometimes as an actor, you have to put yourself in a horrible place to convincingly portray a certain emotion. It’s not very nice, but you have to draw from real life.

Did you enjoy filming across Greater Manchester?

Simm: Manchester is very familiar to me, since I spent my formative years there going to see bands, watching football, clubbing, and hanging around The Arndale and Afflex Palace. But there were certainly some back alleys that I’d never run down before! It’s a great city, my spiritual home. My parents still live nearby so I’m up there quite a bit.

Tell us about working with your Prey co-stars.

Simm: Craig Parkinson (Detective Sean Devlin) is a mate, but we’d never worked together before so it was good to get that opportunity. Anastasia Hille (DCI Andrea Mackenzie) and I went to the same drama school, and I’ve long been an admirer of her work, so it was a thrill to get to work with her. Rosie Cavaliero (DCI Susan Reinhart) was a revelation to me — I’d seen her do comedy before, but not something like this. She’s one of the most natural actors I’ve ever seen in my life. You watch her acting but she’s not actually ‘acting’ at all, which is a great quality to have. I think they all give exceptional performances.


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