Meet Gene and Cindy, the Bonnie and Clyde of new Sky Original 80s crime-thriller, A Town Called Malice
Nick Love’s new series A Town Called Malice which starts on Sky this March, has a pair of love birds at the centre of the story who are only ever a whisper away from becoming jailbirds.
Gene Lord is an intelligent lad, cut from a different cloth to his family who were the crime lords of London once upon a time, but are now mocked in the streets. Gene sees the future, and it's bright. When he meets Cindy in a London nightclub, all the pieces of his life seem to be falling into place. However, when a turf war scuffle with a rival crime clan scuppers everything, and a bobby on the beat is killed, Gene and Cindy must flee London to the Costa del Sol. Protected by a breakdown in an extradition treaty, they can live safely beyond the reach of the Met. Now established in Spain, Gene and Cindy must see if they have what it takes to make it and find out if they can outrun their pasts.
“They are the reverse of Bonnie and Clyde”, says series creator Nick Love. “Cindy is more of a Clyde, but Gene and Cindy’s roles and trajectories completely cross each others in ways that you might not expect.”
For Jack Rowan, who plays Gene, the role was an opportunity to play a morally grey character and really dig into the complexities of what the performance would take. “Gene is one of those complex, imperfect people, and I love playing those types of characters,” says Rowan. “I connect with them, and how the decisions they make in the early stages of a story come back to haunt them later.” For Sharif, it was the script. “I loved that it had this colourful, hyper-reality that’s loud and brash, but never loses the reality of the characters – they are always grounded.” Both agreed that they had never read anything quite like A Town Called Malice before.
Nick Love’s writing held much of the appeal for Rowan and Sharif. “Nick isn’t trying to write a novel with fancy words; he reflects real life, warts and all, that is raw and rough,” says Sharif. “As an actor, scripts come and go, but there are those things that come along every now and again, and when you don’t get it, you are gutted,” says Rowan.
In A Town Called Malice, Gene is out on a date that goes rapidly wrong. After tending to his bruised ego, he meets Cindy and the pair fall for one another - hook, line and sinker. It’s an intense love affair that is tested from the off, including when Cindy meets his infamous relatives.
“Cindy is looking for the family she never had,” says Sharif. “She’s intensely loyal, and once you have her love and loyalty, she will do absolutely anything for you, and do anything to keep it.” Gene on the other hand, is driven by different motivations. “He’s got a fire in him,” says Rowan. “He’s someone who doesn’t have to be the biggest or the strongest, but maybe he is the smartest and he thinks outside of the box.” They make a dynamic duo, with both brains and passion, determined to bend the world to their own future.
As Love states, Sharif’s Cindy is more Clyde than Bonnie; she’s a woman who isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get what she wants. “She’s such a fantastic woman for a woman to play; she’s not a femme fatale; she’s a badass woman.” Rowan agrees that there are similarities to Bonnie and Clyde, mainly how madly in love with one another they are. “They are a good team who will face whatever challenges life throws at them,” says Rowan.
Anyone who watches A Town Called Malice will immediately be struck by the on-screen chemistry shared by Sharif and Rowan. “It was very naturalistic, and we trusted each other instantly,” says Sharif. The pair knew one another prior to working on A Town Called Malice. “We actually had the same drama teacher at school,” says Sharif. “I’m a bit older than Jack, but we bonded over our school experiences and had great conversations about our old school.” Sharif also had another connection to the show, being a south Londoner herself. “When I was reading the script, I looked back at photos of my family at the time living in Brixton, in South London,” says Sharif. “Doing the show authentically was so fulfilling and relatable as well, because that was where I was born and bred.”
Rowan and Sharif agree that A Town Called Malice has a lot to enjoy, whether it’s the retro appeal, the vast selection of hits from the Eighties, or the gritty crime drama. But, beyond the surface appeal, both feel the human drama will really hook people. “The heart of this story is about family and love,” says Sharif. “Sometimes it’s about the desperate need to survive, and that’s not always pretty, and there isn’t always a happy ending.” For Rowan, it’s the love story, “You can tell with Gene and Cindy that when they look into the future, they can see the other person there.”
All episodes of A Town Called Malice available now on Sky Max