What do you get when you combine phenomenal writing and acting with a historical based spy thriller? You get, “Turn: Washington’s Spies”, the new AMC drama series that tells the true story of spies during the American Revolution who helped give rise to modern espionage tactics and gave freedom to our country.
“Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season” is a new 3-disc set that’s available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD. The package contains all ten episodes from the show’s first season as well as a plethora of bonus features, including a history of the show, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew.
English actor Samuel Roukin plays the role of John Graves Simcoe on “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. A ruthless lieutenant whose high stakes, emotional affections for the beautiful Anna Strong (Heather Lind) is matched only by the viciousness he holds for the rebel alliance.
I recently spoke with Roukin about the release of the first season of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”. He also gives me a sneak peek at the brand new season of the series, which airs April 13 on AMC.
How did the role of John Graves Simcoe come about for you?
I had originally read for a bunch of roles for the show when they offered me the role of Simcoe. In the original pilot, Simcoe is killed. So we filmed the scene where Simcoe was shot and I thought that was all there would be. Then after the show was picked up, I remember getting a call from producers telling me that the show just wasn’t the same without Simcoe and that they were going to rewrite the pilot and keep the character on the show. That’s really how it all began.
What was it about the show that attracted you?
One thing you must know is that in England, we get taught absolutely nothing about the American Revolution…. and we all know why! [laughs]. But when pilot season comes around each year, the really good scripts just pop out. Apart from that, the writing on this pilot was just phenomenal. You could see the world and the characters and the relationships were very clear. I immediately connected with the material and wanted to be involved. I wasn’t thinking about Simcoe initially, but when the time came my whole creative outlook just opened up. I saw so many options with this guy and had a very specific idea of what I wanted to do with him. He’s a character of such depth and complexity with so many different layers and extremes. He’s someone who’s completely viscous and unpredictable and it’s been great fun developing him.
In season one we see quite a bit of Simcoe’s affections for Anna. Will we be seeing more of this dynamic unfold in season two?
Absolutely. Simcoe really believes that there’s something there with Anna, and it’s interesting that he’s not just trying to intimidate her. In his mind, he really believes he has a chance with her and that there’s some sort of connection. That’s what keeps him coming back. I think he’s genuinely in love with her.
In the season one finale we see a brutal execution scene. Do you feel at that moment we’ve started to see the real face of John Simcoe?
What’s great about the development of the story is that by the end of season one every character has been changed significantly. For Simcoe, he’s always been expected to toe the line under an authority in which he believes to be indecisive and lacking in real military might. So when the crisis moment happens and the town they’ve been sent to defend is under attack, in his mind it’s very clear what needs to happen. I think one of the most dangerous things about Simcoe is that he knows exactly what the solution to the problem should be — even though it doesn’t chime with most human beings [laughs]. In his mind, Major Hewlett [Burn Gorman] wasn’t doing his job and the rebels needed to be sent a message. So in that regard he’s really acting on military instinct. He’s also hell bent on revenge for what’s happened to him and it was the perfect opportunity for payback.
What can fans expect from season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies”?
From Simcoe, you’ll see what happens to him after his arrest. We know through history that he eventually takes over the Queen’s Rangers and we’re heading towards that. The Queens Rangers are a group of Special Forces sent in to do specific jobs and are a lethal force. Generally speaking, the tempo and velocity of the show in season two goes off the charts and it becomes a more intense, high stakes spy show with some really brutal events that take place. It’s all very exciting.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an actor when you were growing up?
Yes. From a young age I was drawn to it. My parents would always take me to the theater when I was growing up and I grew up in a family where there was a lot of storytelling and it fascinated me. I got involved in theater early on but didn’t know that it could be a job until late into my childhood. For me, it was always just one big, fun thing to do. But once I found out that you could do it for a living, that was it! Everything I did from that point on was driven on making it happen!
If you had to describe season two of “Turn: Washington’s Spies” in just two words, what would they be?
That’s easy. “High intensity”.
Turn: Washington’s Spies: The Complete First Season is available now on Blu-ray, Digital HD and DVD
Season Two premieres Monday, April 13 on AMC