David Morrissey is one of the busiest and best actors currently working. These two notions may be linked. He’s in demand, with characters as diverse as The Governor in global smash The Walking Dead and Gordon Brown in Peter Morgan’s political drama The Deal in his arsenal, alongside major roles in The Missing 2, Richard II, the Red Riding trilogy and Blackpool.
This year, we’ve already seen him proclaiming “I am Rome” in Jez Butterworth’s trippy historical romp Britannia on Sky Atlantic before playing Mark Antony in the rip-roaring, politically prescient production of Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre in London.
And for his next trick? Morrissey plays the police inspector at the heart of The City And The City, a new adaptation of China Miéville’s weird-fiction novel – which fuses dystopian alternative history with detective drama. It’s a tale of two cities, sharing the same geographical space but existing under radically different laws, customs and cultures.
But Morrissey is not just a leading actor. He’s also a music fan and “massive geek” when it comes to preparing for roles. And in a Big Issue exclusive, he has shared the playlist he made to prepare for his role as Inspector Tyador Borlú in the unsettling new series.
“I do a lot of geeky stuff. I make a playlist for all the characters I play. Which is weird” he says.
“So for The City And The City I listened to a lot of electronica stuff. Mad Kraftwerk songs. Stockhausen, which has a melody to it then suddenly something hits you – ‘what the hell is that!’ That really puts you on edge a little bit. And a bit of Philip Glass minimalism as well.
“Sometimes there are two playlists. One for the character, what he would be listening to, and one for certain moods I would have to invoke in the role. If it was highly energetic I would need some banging tunes, or sometimes I might need something a bit more miserablist.
“And if it is period, sometimes it is music of the time. For South Riding, I did a whole 1940s playlist. And for Red Riding, it was all late 70s and early 80s stuff, so that was great! That is just the inner geek in me, I just like doing it.
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So, if you’re watching, or planning to watch The City And The City – and why wouldn’t you, it’s a fantastic adaptation of an off-kilter literary marvel – start your preparation by listening to Morrissey’s playlist, containing everything from the sublime piano minimalism of Barry Adamson’s Everything Happens to Me – part of the Moss Side Story album, conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary murder mystery – to Kraftwerk’s stunning Europe Endless from Trans-Europe Express and Rachmaninov’s swooping, soaring, sinister The Isle Of The Dead.
Not only is the playlist a wonderful way to get into the zone for The City And The City and inside the mind of its main character, it’s also an insight into the musical world of David Morrissey…