Gary Oldman talks Slow Horses Season 2 and the show’s recipe for success

As the first season of slow horses ended up at Apple
TV+ Earlier this year, the streamer had already renewed it for a second season. However, that didn’t guarantee anyone would see it. Luckily, the spy thriller is based on that Slough house Books by Mick Herron immediately found an audience and critical acclaim.

Now the second season, filmed back-to-back with the first, is here. Two more are on the way. Gary Oldman returns as the bloated, sloppy but brilliant leader of the Slough House team, Jackson Lamb.

I caught up with the actor to reflect on the show’s success, how he’s learned to never assume things will work out, and why he’s happy to be committed to Lamb for several more seasons.

Simon Thompson: Were you surprised by the popularity of season one? We spoke before anyone saw it and it was exceptionally well received. It’s been talked about a lot on social media. Did you know it would be as popular as it was?

Gary Oldman: You never know. British footballer Jimmy Greaves always said: “It’s a funny old game”. I remember a movie called true romance, directed by Tony Scott and written by Tarantino, starring Brad Pitt and Christian Slater. It seemed like a safe bet and it opened and closed in theaters, later becoming a cult film with fans on DVD. It was one of those things where you’re like, ‘Oh, this is just so much fun. This has got to be a winner.’ It was not. You always hope that people will like your baby. You meet these people who are dedicated Mick Herron readers and really love his books, the ones who slow horses based on. That’s one of the reasons we let Mick Jagger do the music for the show. He was a fan of the books. Apple had so much faith in it that we had the green light on Season 2 before a picture of it even aired.

Thomas: Two more seasons were announced a few months ago. This is a journey that I’m assuming is longer than you realised. As you say, you never know if things will end up so this could have ended here. Have you been willing to commit to multiple shows?

Old man: Oh yeah. Knowing there are eight books and he’s prolific. He will keep writing. I don’t know if we’ll all end up doing eight, but I’d love to. I’ve just wrapped season 3, they’re shooting until early January and by the end of February we’ll have the green light for season 4. I’m particularly looking forward to that. haunted street is the fourth, and it’s just terrific. I love playing Jackson Lamb, the crew and the company of actors; I’m happy to come back as long as we have an audience and Apple wants to write those checks generously (laughs).

Thomas: When shows are renewed for seasons, people often want to put more money behind them. Is it a case with slow horses that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it? It works as good as it is; If you remove the edges you may lose what it is.

Old man: We have an advantage because we have the raw material. when we were there Craft tailor soldier spy, we had very good advice from John le Carré, who unfortunately is no longer with us. I happened to be there and he said to the director, ‘Look, you have to do your film. Here’s the book, so make your movie. If your movie sucks, my book will still be great.’ We know these books work. We have the stories, we have the characters, some characters will remain and new characters will come, but we know those stories. The blueprint is already there. What happens with some shows is they get to season five and you’re in a writers room where they’re scratching their heads and they’re like, ‘What are we going to do? You can imagine a scenario where they are contemplating what to do with Jackson Lamb. They think, “Maybe we’ll do something where the ex-wife comes back, but she’s married to an American who works for the CIA,” and they jump at the shark. Then you’re on a show that started with truth and enthusiasm, and then you suddenly come to season six and this character is something ridiculous. As a viewer you think: “I’m done. I’m out.’ You have to turn it off. I don’t think we’re in any danger of doing that. By the time we start season four, I don’t necessarily have all the scripts, but I do know how good the book is. If we stick to that and the story and the book, we’ll be in good shape.

season two of slow horses has started streaming on Apple TV+ with new episodes premiering weekly on Fridays.

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