Luke Newberry has been having strange dreams. “I had one that my cat started eating my arm – that was quite strange. Subtly, my dreams have got a little bit odd! I don’t know – maybe I always have strange dreams, but definitely working on this they’ve gone a bit awry.”
“This” is BBC Three’s new zombie drama In The Flesh (it starts on Sunday at 10pm) in which Newberry stars as Kieren Walker, a young man suffering from PDS – Partially Deceased Syndrome – which basically means, he was a zombie, but he’s better now. Not completely normal, mind (there’s the whole freaky eyes, not-being-able-to-eat and walking-like-you-seriously-need-a-wee business), but better .
SFX : What appealed to you about the role?
“My agent said, ‘It’s a series about zombies, and it sounds quite mad,’ but we read the scripts and actually it’s a really amazing part. It’s so multifaceted. There’s layers to it, it’s so engaging and human and just brilliant. I think it’s fascinating to make something which would usually be all about hunting zombies or something, but to make that the background thing.”
“Some people are very accepting of it. Most people don’t even know I’m back. His mum and dad are doing the best they can to be accommodating, to try to leave the past behind and start afresh. There was a communication error in the family – fundamentally – where we just didn’t talk. But I’m just completely freaked out by the whole experience and my sister just wipes me out like I don’t exist – ‘He’s weird, he’s not my brother!’ And that’s really hard because we were really close before it happened and now she won’t accept me back."
What’s the tone of it? Horrifying? Humourous? Relationship drama?
“I think it's kind of a collision, a bit of everything. There are light moments in it deliberately, but I would say it's more of a drama about relationships really, with this layer of PDS on top of that. It's quite domestic. It's like, what if this was real? If it actually could happen it wouldn’t just be people going, 'Urggggggh' and banging against the windows - it would affect people like any kind of disease would."
How do you get your head around playing a zombie?
“I don’t really think of Kieren as a zombie, I think the makeup speaks for itself. Really, I’ve just tried to make him as human as possible, so it's just like a person suffering with an illness, or some sort of affliction.
So it’s just a physical thing really?
“There’s stuff like the running and the walking. Kieren’s walk is slightly awkward, slightly not right - his bones aren’t quite right. He’s not quite as agile as he was.
What's the strangest situation you found yourself in during filming?
"Halfway through the grass, with my head completely covered in soil. That was one of those moments when I thought, 'Get me out!' I had to come up through this rostra. It was like a big of soil and I'm crouched down, and they'd cut a little hole. I'm under the stage like that and I put my hand up first and then push my head up through the soil. There came a point where it's like pushing my head through a bag of compost, and it would get to a point where I'd get stuck, and I'd be completely surrounded by soil, so it was kinda like the real thing - it was like trying to get out of the ground. So that was pretty strange. Lying in a coffin was quite strange as well, and imagining what it would be like to wake up in one and struggle my way out, clawing my way out through wood. That was weird!"
Ian Berriman/Dave Golder