In The Day Of The Triffids, Eddie Izzard takes on the role of Torrence. He survives a plane crash and ends up as one of the few humans who escapes blinding by the solar storm. However, the others survivors soon realise that Torrence is using the disaster for his own, sinister ends.
Eddie, who has another, highly-successful career as one of Britain's leading stand-up comedians, and can sell out massive arenas at the drop of a hat, says he was drawn to the complexity of his character in The Day Of The Triffids.
The actor, who has also starred in such major movies as Valkyrie, Ocean's Twelve and Thirteen and The Chronicles Of Narnia, begins by explaining Torrence's background.
"He's disconnected from everyone else. They left it up to us to fill in our characters' back stories. So I've decided that maybe Torrence was orphaned. I think he also has a military background. I was a cadet myself, so I'm using that for this character."
Forty-seven-year-old Eddie, who has also enjoyed a very well-regarded run as the lead in the US drama series The Riches, goes on to emphasise that he was not interested in making Torrence a cardboard cut-out villain.
"I didn't want him to be just a bad guy – that's too obvious. I wanted him to be ambiguous, so other people could never quite tell what they'd encountered.
"Hitchcock said that all villains have got to be charming. The most serious sociopaths often have a magnetic, avuncular thing going on. So I put lots of different colours into the character of Torrence. I made him cute and flirty. At first he is rather likable – he reveals his darker side only gradually."
Eddie, whose hit stand-up shows have included Dress To Kill, Glorious and, more recently, Stripped goes on to stress the classic qualities of John Wyndham's novel, which continues to strike a chord some 58 years after it was first published.
"It's a classic tale. In this version, the Triffids offer a solution to our energy problems, and that makes it a very topical way to update the story. If you come up with a cure for anything, people always go mad for it. Look at I Am Legend – in that film, they find a cure for cancer and everyone goes wild. Humans are hardwired for that story."
The actor, who also has a considerable career as a stage actor, enthuses that The Day Of The Triffids also works on a more visceral level.
"It's a brilliant thriller, which taps into the survivalist instinct within us all. Like 28 Days Later, it shows what could happen if the structure of society disintegrated."
Eddie concludes by wondering: "What if law and order breaks down and you're forced to get a gun and go feral? How would you react? That's a universal question. We can ask it of ourselves. And that's what makes The Day Of The Triffids such a riveting piece of television."