Exclusive: Jamie Bamber Talks Cannes Confidential, Now on Acorn

Jamie BamberRecently Acorn TV premiered the new romantic crime procedural Cannes Confidential. The six-part international detective series stars French actress Lucie Lucas as Detective Camille Delmasse, who struggles to accept the arrest and sentencing of her ex-Chief of Police father for corruption charges. The series also stars Jamie Bamber as international conman Harry King who teams up with Camille to solve crimes (regardless of whether she wants the help) and may have information that could exonerate her father. Their chemistry becomes complicated by Camille’s colleague Lea Robert (Tamara Marthe), who has a secret crush on Camille.

Bamber recently spoke with SciFi Vision about working on the series, which is now available to stream on Acorn TV.

SCIFI VISION:   What was it about the role that made you want to do it?

Jamie BamberJAMIE BAMBER:   It was the dialogue between the two characters, that sort of push me pull you repulsion attraction, the way they meet, the fact that they argue like a married couple before they've even met. It was that sexual chemistry plus the odd couple element of them eventually becoming this crime solving duo. Each has a reason to really distrust the other one. Harry, obviously, is someone with a checkered past who doesn't want his past investigated. She's a police woman who investigates people like Harry, and yet, he's also helping her access the criminal underworld to find out what's happened to her dad. So, there's a loaded gun held at each other as they carry on together. So, whilst it seems that there's an attraction, there's also a lethal elements to it as well. It reminded me of a lot of things that I loved growing up, actors I loved, people like Cary Grant and David Niven and Roger Moore and people like that. So, whilst the project changed a lot from the first time I read the scripts, because this is a real international, three way co-production, and the elements changed over the two years that I was notionally involved in then. So, it wasn't always easy, because [there were] scripts changing. There was a battle, which I had to get involved in from time to time and really fight for what I loved about the show. But yeah, I'm very proud of it, and I really enjoyed the things that attracted me to it in the first place, because it's meant to be fun. It's a cop show, but it should be fun.

So, did you audition? Or were you offered it? How did that sort of happen?

No, no, it like happens a lot these days. What happened was, it was the first script I read after the first lockdown. I happened to be visiting my mom, who I hadn't seen for obvious reasons. As soon as I was allowed to, she actually lives in the South Bronx. So, I was there. A friend of mine called me and said, “I've seen your name on a piece of paper of a friend of mine who's developing a TV show called Cannes Confidential, would you be interested in reading the script?” And I said, “Yes, I've got nothing else to do.” I read the scripts. I really liked the elements, the character, the dialogue, the sort of screwball banter between the two. Then, before I knew it, I had a lunch meeting, like the day after, down in Cannes on the beach, and Patrick Nebout, the producer, creator, and I talked about what we liked about it, what we wanted to do, and there was a sort of verbal agreement that I would do it. But then, of course, as happens all the time, he then has to convince the other partners that I'm the right guy for the job. So, whilst I was filming in Ireland, later that year, I did a little scene, on camera. I filmed one scene on my own, you know, recording the off lines, and that was used to pitch the rest of the partners. So, yeah, in that sense, I did have to do something. But pretty quickly, they cast me, and then I was involved in trying to find the other elements in the show, which came together when the French broadcaster came in. And from that moment, it was very clear we were always making an English language show, but we needed a French cast, which I was very happy with, because if you’re going to shoot in France, I think you should have a French cast. That's when Lucie and Tamara [Marthe] joined, and we did a session in Paris with them. But it was always them when there was no one else. It was just those those two. It was a chemistry read, really. So, that's how it started.

So it sounds like then they were really open to listening to kind of what you had to say. Was there anything specifically like that you, I guess, changed or added to your character that you can think of?

You know, there were disagreements and not not all of them are resolved. There are things that had I been producing, I would still change about the show, but once once you understand the reasons why these elements are in place, then you have to adapt. And from then on, I say to them, “Well look, I respect what you're doing.” You've got a tripartite Swedish American French production in English with a French cast. It's not easy. So, I just said, “Can you just allow me to take care of me, of the character.” So, in every situation, we had a big zoom chat, and I said, “Look, I've got certain ideas for the way the dialogue can work and the way this relationship can grow,” and they were very open to it. And Camille Delamarre, who was the director, he gave me basically free rein, just in terms of of dialogue, essentially rhythms, dialogue, we were very free on the set. Then, for the French actors, who obviously were a bit hamstrung, because they couldn't necessarily respond in real time if I was just going to spring something on them, I would work with them beforehand and suggest [things]. So, we didn't change anything into terms of the story, at all; it was just coming up with bits of dialogue. And interestingly, we've just dubbed it all into French for the French broadcaster. Then, that was an opportunity, again, to completely rework some of the dialogue. Not that I was taking the front, but there's a whole team that directs dubbing. Yeah, and so it's been a very interesting process in that regard, in terms of what you can do on the day, on camera, to find little things like happy accidents, little retorts, responses, and we have a lot of freedom in that department.

That's good. You keep mentioning how much you like the dialogue. I really love how he's constantly saying sarcastic things to her. Do you have a favorite line he says off the top your head? If you don't, it's okay. I just figured I'd ask.

You know, I certainly did, but it's been it's been over a year since we shot it, and I've only seen it once. But yeah, there must be one I could think of. Well, I mean, the one that sticks to mind is in the art gallery, the beginning. All these women are waving at Harry and he says to [Camille], she's sort of threatened by this very sort of high, highfalutin society that she suddenly walked into, because she's very much from the working class side of Cannes, and Harry is very much at ease everywhere. And he says, “Just imagine them all naked. It helps it helps to sort of level things off.” Then, there's a couple of women's that start waving at [him], and he says, “Well, I have actually seen her naked.” There were little lines like that, which were politically incorrect, and there were some anxious moments with notes about actually, I'm not sure how you can say that. But then I came up with a retort, “life drawing classes,” as in, you know, the only acceptable way it is okay for these days for a man to gaze at a female form is still life drawing classes. It’s a silly line, but yeah, little things like that, that we were tinkering with all the time. I can't really remember. I'm sure there were better ones, but that comes to mind.

Now, you sort of talked about this, but can you talk a little bit more about heir relationship? There’s almost like a love triangle at certain times even.

Yeah, it's definitely a 21st century, sort of screwball romantic police procedural comedy, because it is a love triangle between two female colleague cops, one of which is very much a lesbian and has got eyes for Camille. Then, there's Harry who comes into the mix, and kind of enjoys being a fly in the ointment and their particular kind of cozy camaraderie. He adds an element of something that gets under her skin, Camille's skin certainly, gets under Lea’s skin. But then you get a couple of moments later on, where Harry and Lea kind of understand each other. I think I really enjoyed those moments. There's almost a tacit agreement from Harry saying, “Look, you were here first. She’s yours; go for it.” So, it's those sort of things. I mean, with Camille and Harry, it's will they, won’t they, will they, won’t they, but equally between Lea and Camille is, will they won’t they. So yeah, it's kind of a 21st century paradigm for how complicated relationships in and out of the workplace can be.

The other thing I was wanted to ask was did you actually ride a motorcycle at all? I don't know how much of that was real, but I'm just kind of curious. Did you at all ride a motorcycle for the show? Because you were definitely on it a lot.

I was on it. I was on it a lot. You know, I rode the last few meters sometimes. No, but I'll make a promise that if we do season two, I will ride the motorcycle, and I will get my motorcycle license. I'm not a bike guy. The only two times in all my career as an actor I've had to ride a motorcycle on screen, ironically, they've each been Triumph Bonnevilles, although different models, and in a show called Peak Practice in Britain, I did actually ride a motorcycle back in the day when safety wasn't such a big deal, I guess. But I also remember driving it into the bushes right next door to a school playground during the lunch break and having 150 seven year olds laughing and pointing fingers at me. So, motorcycles and I, we have a way to go yet before we're comfortable bedfellows, so no, I had a couple of stunt guys to drive most of the scenes. Then, there's a big chase scene where I don't think we'd ever be allowed to do, Lucie and I, at this budget. So, we were on the back of a low loader during that sequence, but that was a lot of fun. That's in the first episode as well.

Was there anything in particular that you researched for this to be able to get into his head?

No, do you know what I did? You know, he's called a con man, and in the show, you don't really see that side of him. But obviously, the constant search for confidence. I think there's even a line to that degree, which I think I came up with, but there were things - I did some research into people like [him] that make a living out of taking people into their confidence and somehow embezzling them, swindling them, whatever. And whether you know that about Harry explicitly, about what he what he did in his past, the character trait is definitely someone who is able to get people on board to relax, and he has that ease. He has an ease and facility with people. So, that was something I was very conscious of. So, even with someone that clearly clearly dislikes him, and has her guard up against him, he has a way in, which he uses that in order to actually make it fun, like the guards, the defensiveness, the pushing away can be part of the fun. So, whilst not really research, I did watch a couple of documentaries, like the Tinder Swindler and things like that, just to understand what it is that people that have that capacity to make people forget their own cautious instincts in order to allow him into their lives. I did a bit of that and a bit of watching the great actors’ performances in that genre, in the genre that I'm talking about. So, these are things like Moonlighting and Romancing the Stone and things like that, just reminding myself why I used to love watching that kind of movie where you get a male and a female or, or even two females, or whatever it is, where there's a sexual attraction, but also a defensiveness and a repulsion that is sort of self preservation within those relationships. Indiana Jones as well. The first Indiana Jones movie there's a great relationship I remember between the lead actress and Harrison Ford, and you know, it's a fight. All the [romantic] scenes are sort of combative, and those are my touchstones in this. But no, there wasn't a great deal of [research]. It's not that kind of show. It's a fun show where I'm just encouraging people just to sit down and watch with the family, in couples, or whatever at the end of a long day in the gloomy part of the world, and pour yourself a glass of something cold that you enjoy, and pretend you're on vacation in Cannes, and these two careen by on a motorcycle, and you wonder what they’re up to and where they're going and what's going on.

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