Richard Dormer: “Rellik constantly keeps you on your toes”

Rellik – fronted by Game of Thrones star Richard Dormer – turns the detective drama on its head with a revolutionary reverse narrative style. So we thought we'd interview Dormer backwards too.

Great to talk to you, thank you very much.

Lovely talking to you…

In the spirit of Rellik, I thought we’d start at the end. Do you think the audience will take to the series’ unconventional storytelling?

I think they will, yeah. When I watched the first episodes and it started to rewind I felt like my world was spinning. About 15 minutes into the second episode something happens and your brain understands how to deal with the information and you let it spill over you.

rellik-richard-dormer-jody-balfour
Jodi Balfour as Elaine Shepard and Richard Dormer as Gabriel Markham in BBC drama Rellik.

Was it filmed in chronological order or in the order the episodes go out?

It was filmed the way you watch it. You start at the end, you go back a bit, back a bit further, keep going back.

Columbo always showed you the perpetrator at the beginning. Does Rellik play with the audience by always changing what they think they know?

Exactly. It keeps offering up different suspects, when it rewinds it doesn’t just rewind, it shows you the action from a different perspective. It’s constantly shifting your idea of who did what. You’re always on your toes.

When I watched the first episodes and it started to rewind I felt like my world was spinning

When you prepare to play a new character you try to understand who they are but in this your character changes greatly physically and emotionally before and after an acid attack.

Because we read all the scripts we knew what happened at the end and we knew what happened at the beginning. It sounds really weird, but I still knew where I was going when I was doing it in reverse.

DID YOU KNOW…

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Instead of evolving, does your character devolve through the series?

He starts off pretty damaged and gruff. He’s moody and he’s in a lot of pain because the scarring really hurts him. Bit by bit you see him become closer to the person he was before the attack and that person is a very different character. At the start, on the outside, he wears he’s always been feeling on the inside.

Is Gabriel a symbolically laden name?

It could be. You associate the name with an angel, with good. There’s an element of a man who’s trying to do the right thing, he’s done wrong things in the past. He is maybe a bit of a fallen angel.

So who do you play in Rellik?

I play DCI Gabriel Markham who’s the leading officer on the case to find a serial killer.

You play Beric Dondarrion in Game of Thrones. What impact has the series had in your hometown of Belfast where much of it is made?

It’s done a huge amount for Northern Ireland, for the economy, tourism industry, for all the crew who tirelessly work on these shows – they’re some of the best crew in the world. There’s a lot of pride in Belfast that the biggest show in the world is shot here.

Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion in Game Of Thrones season seven.

It’s the final season next year, but what legacy will be left in Belfast?

The show is not going to disappear overnight. There are a lot of people who haven’t seen it so in years to come people will keep coming to it. Filming in Belfast is brilliant for producers because you have beaches, mountains, forests, all within an hour’s drive. The traffic’s not too bad.

Anybody who blurts secrets about Game of Thrones gets beheaded

Are there lots of secrets on set about what’s going to happen?

Yeah. You really only know what is going to happen to you just before you start to film. And sometimes you don’t even have the last script so you don’t know if you’re going to make it to the end. It’s always a surprise.

Behind the scenes of Game of Thrones in Belfast's Titanic Studios.

Game of Thrones ended in typically dramatic style last month. Have you seen the script for season eight yet?

No comment. Anybody who blurts secrets about Game of Thrones gets beheaded.

And finally… Hello, how are you?

I’m doing very well, how are you today?

Rellik begins tonight on BBC One