“It’s a refreshing change,” David Thewlis says about being at the top of the call sheet, in his exclusive interview with Gold Derby about “Barkskins” (watch the video above). “It was one of the reasons I took this job because I felt like it would be nice to try and carry something, even though it’s very much an ensemble,” he continues. He notes how he has spent most of his 35-year career in supporting roles after coming to prominence for leading the 1993 film “Naked,” for which he won Best Actor prizes from the Cannes Film Festival and National Society of Film Critics.
Approaching 100 credits on IMDb, Thewlis has played memorable parts in both blockbuster franchises and prestige pictures, but was next widely lauded individually for the 2017 season of “Fargo,” picking up Best Movie/Limited Supporting Actor nominations at the Emmys, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. “After ‘Fargo,’ I took a long time before I did anything again and a lot of TV was offered,” he explains. “I waited a long time because nothing seemed like it was going to match the quality of ‘Fargo,’ so I just held out and held out and held out for as long as I could and then this came along.”
Thewlis plays New France landowner Claude Trepagny in the National Geographic limited series that is adapted from the 2016 novel of the same name by Annie Proulx. “Trepagny is an outsider in the story. Quite literally, he lives outside the walls of the settlement community. He’s also considered really a heretic by most of the people in the community and certainly by the Catholic church, who are very present,” he explains. Trepagny is a Cathar, following a Christian denomination that was eradicated in the 14th century. He adds, “Here in the 17th century, Trepagny is a proud believer in this, but he’s also very contradictory because he’s not a devout follower of anything.” Thewlis reveals that Proulx cut this aspect of the character from the source material, but the series was able to employ it with the greater focus on Trepagny.
In addition to “Barkskins,” Thewlis will be on the Emmy ballot this year for Best Drama Supporting Actor for his six-episode arc on “The Feed.” “It’s something that has great potential in terms of what’s really going on in the world,” he says about the science fiction thriller. He admits, “It’s something that’s been on my mind much more since we’re here now [that in terms of communication] everything is now computerized, so all that I would not have foreseen even a few weeks ago.”
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