THE CASUAL VACANCY comes to Blu-ray™ and DVD from 15th June 2015
Interview with Rory Kinnear (plays Barry Fairbrother)
Your character’s death is the catalyst for the story. What more can you tell us about that?
Barry has a place on the Parish Council and it’s the vacancy that his death prompts that is the title of the piece. It prompts everybody to fight for their position in the town.
Your character dies very early on but he still features in all three episodes?
I hadn’t read the book so I didn’t know that he died on page five. I read the first episode of the script and realised that he died three quarters of the way through. It was a nice part and I like Jonny Campbell, the director, I’d worked with him before. Of course I finally got around to reading episodes two and three, knowing I was in them and there would be flashback scenes and voiceovers, so the part doubled in size to my surprise.
Sarah Phelps has cleverly weaved Barry into the story to allow us the opportunity to view the others in the way that he views them.
Barry is one of the few people in Pagford who is that fulcrum between the two sides. Seeing in flashback what he meant to people and the things that he did, the generosity of spirit that he did as well as the toughness. He was serious about his belief that you have to support those who are less fortunate than yourself, because he benefited from it growing up. You don’t know precisely how he got out of The Field side of town, but we presume he was bright and somebody looked out for him and he made his own way. The fact that he’s still living in Pagford means that he’s felt the pull of the town and not just because he has family there. He’s passionate about giving a bit back.
Would you say that by Barry’s absence the rest of the village is fighting for that space, because he seemed to be the only good heart?
He’s the only crusading good heart. He’s the one that is driven to unite and to suggest that the emphasis should fall upon those privileged to have an easier life, to work a bit harder to make those whose lives are less fortunate, easier. That is a thing that he makes explicit and it’s quite easy to forget that when you live in a bubble of privilege and prettiness, that the Pagford people do live in. It’s quite easy for schisms to develop in societies, in villages, cities or countries. The more rarefied a life you live, the easier it is to think that those who don’t share it could be demonised. To find the common humanity becomes more of a struggle, the more you surround yourself with nice things.
Do you think Barry is one of the few people who understand the importance of society and community?
Yes but he is also aware that it comes from his background, and people are products of their experiences. If you haven’t been through the tough stuff of life, then it’s hard to make the empathetic leap. But you have to keep on reminding people who he is, what he’s achieved, where he’s come from and he knows he’s one of the lucky ones to have done so. I don’t think it’s a patronising thing to think that you have to work hard to help people less fortunate, because he feels like he benefited from somebody that saw something in him and took a chance on him.
That’s what he’s doing with Krystal (Abigail Lawrie). He sees something in her that has potential to achieve something. She’s got a really tough home life, and he wants to offer up help in any small way, as well as knowing that he can’t cure it. You can’t obliterate that side of your life; it’s a pain that she’ll have to live with, but you can live with pain and still be successful.
The fact the whole story is largely based around the fight for a parish council seat, and that’s the main thrust of the drama as it were, shows you that the ambition is not one of crash, bang and wallops in terms of the action. It’s about how people interact with each other and the fact that you’ve got different types of people. It says something about England of today as well as it also says something about the universal aspects of human nature.
THE CASUAL VACANCY, based on the global bestselling novel by J.K. Rowling, released on Blu-ray™ and DVD on 15th June 2015.