Returning to Sky Atlantic's Arctic drama Fortitude, Luke Treadaway talks to Marie Claire about climate change and bad headlines
I interrupt Luke Treadaway on a little break in Canada. At the tail end of the press tour for A Streetcat Named Bob, he’s flown from the movie’s New York premiere to visit his girlfriend, actress Ruta Gedmintas, in Toronto where she’s filming psychological thriller The Strain. It was decided that the transatlantic promotional trip would be a little too much for his co-star Bob, the stocky ginger cat who plays himself in the true story of James Bowen (Treadaway) whose life of addiction and homelessness was turned around by the arrival of a small, furry shadow. ‘Bob was ready for a little chill out after all the press in London,’ says Treadaway, where he was greeted at the premiere by the Duchess of Cambridge. ‘I think [Bob and his owner] will be doing Berlin, though. I missed him in New York.’
Treadaway’s next project is a gear change from the feel-good vibes of Bob, as he returns in season two of suspenseful Sky Atlantic drama Fortitude, all bleak arctic landscapes and a cast peppered with Scandi-noir veterans (hello, Sofie Gråbøl). Treadaway plays British scientist Vincent Rattrey, sent to the isolated arctic town of Fortitude to research a worrying trend of cannibalism in polar bears. But then dead bodies start turning up in mysterious circumstances and no one is quite sure why. With so many subtle twists and turns in the plot, even Treadaway found it hard to keep up. ‘It was tricky to work out what was actually going on at the time,’ he says. A chunk of filming was done on location in the tiny, isolated town of Reyðarfjörður in eastern Iceland.
Dennis Quaid has joined the cast for season two (presumably in part to fill the ‘recognizable US actor’ slot after the unfortunate demise of Stanley Tucci’s character DCI Morton) and with little to do besides bracing walks, they found creative ways to pass their free time. ‘Richard Dormer, Dennis [Quaid] and myself made up a ukulele band. We played one night at the crew pub… Dennis was brilliant. He’s a lovely human being and great on the guitar and piano – what’s not to love?’ Although there appears to be supernatural elements at play, the show relays a message about global warming, too – a particularly potent subject with a climate change denier unpacking in the White House. ‘Members of [Trump’s] energy team are just terrifying,’ agrees Treadaway. He’s not so sold on the UK situation, either. ‘Andrea Leadsom [was] in charge of energy in this country and she was the one connected to the people who are fracking. We voted in Parliament against it and it was [David] Cameron who said, “We’re going to do it anyway.” I fear massively for the planet really.’
Treadaway grew up in Devon. He and his twin brother Harry (also an actor) made their professional debut together in a mockumentary called Brothers Of The Head, about a pair of conjoined twins who become rock stars. Twelve years later, aged 32, the brothers have forged successful but separate paths in the industry. Luke indicates that he’s more than a little bored of the whole ‘sibling rivalry’ shtick. ‘It’s quite rare that it comes up now, which is really pleasing, because I don’t have much to say.’
Treadaway has been referred to as the National Theatre’s ‘million-dollar man’ thanks to leading roles in War Horse and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time (which won him an Olivier Award for Best Leading Actor in 2013), two shows that have vastly contributed to the British theatre boom of the last ten years and – Treadaway believes – help bolster the case against Arts Council funding cuts. ‘They’re both productions that would very rarely get produced in private theatre, because the two years or so of development and the weeks and weeks of workshops [they require] isn’t necessarily what a commercial theatre is going for.’
After a four-year hiatus, he will be returning to tread the boards in March in a new production of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? opposite Imelda Staunton, Imogen Poots and Conleth Hill (Game Of Thrones). The play will include a passionate kiss between Treadaway and Staunton (‘I never kiss and tell,’ he jokes. ‘Also I can’t, as we haven’t started rehearsals yet.’). He ‘literally can’t wait to work with [Imelda],’ he says. ‘I haven’t done a play like it before that’s set in real time in a living room with four people, so it’s exciting.’
Off stage, Treadaway began his relationship with Gedmintas in 2011. Dating another actor is handy, he says, as ‘it’s useful to have someone who understands the strange nature of this job.’ But, unlike a lot of unmarried couples in their early thirties, he insists they’re not suffering the well-meaning wedding bells enquiries from friends and family.
With 2016 having turned out to be a car crash year in many ways, has Treadaway got any big hopes for the New Year? He says he’d like to see certain papers stop writing ‘f**king horrible headlines’ for one (he’s supportive of the Stop Funding Hate campaign, which is gathering momentum when we speak), and thinks we could all do with being a ‘bit kinder’ to each other. ‘Think about the fact that in 50 years or so we’ll all be dead – we can’t take our money with us. If everyone had that in their heads when it came to running governments and energy policies, then surely there would be a better outcome for the planet? Surely? Well, that’s my theory anyway.’
Season two of Fortitude starts on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in January. It will also be available to watch on Sky Box Sets