“I hope it’s going to be a fucking great big hit,” says 35-year-old Adam Rayner about his HBO/BBC/Kudos TV series Hunted, written by The X-Files Frank Spotnitz which starts in September.
“It’s a fast paced multi-layered international conspiracy thriller set in a contemporary world of private espionage,” says Shrewsbury born Rayner who plays Aidan Marsh, a Brit agent who is dating as well as working with the main character Sam Hunter (played by ex-Home and Away alumni Melissa George).
“It’s got great pedigree with HBO and Kudos (who made the equally brilliant Spooks) so the production companies know what they’re doing and I hope it finds an audience who will go with the complexity of the plot. It gets more and more complicated, and deliberately so. The long game American cable network model, which is becoming the norm these days, allows for that level of complexity. I actually read the script about six months before I auditioned for it as a good friend was putting herself on tape for the lead girl and wanted someone to read with. One of the challenges is knowing where to pitch your character as at the beginning we weren’t really told much about what was happening. All I knew was my character loves Sam but he has a lot to hide. So I was flying blind.”
And in order to keep up with the Bonds and Bournes of this world, it required Rayner to crack some heads.
“I kick a lot of asses. Although it’s slow burn for me,” he says. “Sam kicks a lot of ass in the first couple of episodes, then hands over the ass kicking to me in the middle episodes and finally we kick ass together at the end. I tried to get myself in shape as I knew it was going to be physical and I needed to look like I could handle myself. I got much better at the fight scenes as we went along, the first one I did I was utterly useless.”
This is by far the most high profile role for Rayner who’s worked on both US and UK TV series and movies for the past 10 years including bed-hopping relationship series Mistresses, medical drama Hawthorne (“I was the stereotypical English TV doctor incongruously working in a rough inner city hospital with Jada Pinkett-Smith”) and the much-loved-by-kids-and-by-adults-who-should-know-better phenomenon Doctor Who.
“It’s incredible how Doctor Who follows me around even though I only did one episode and was killed by a giant wasp in the first ten minutes,” he says. “There are two careers; out of the gates in big movies by the time you are 22 or the rest of us who slog away and hopefully at some point get a show that makes it big.”
But it’s almost as if Rayner was being groomed to take on such a high profile spy role as one of his first jobs was taking over from Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon, in a London run of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth in 2002.
“I had that naïve confidence of youth and I didn’t realise how big it was. Matt was a prince, he gave me a lot of encouragement and when he was off publicising The Bourne Identity and they asked him about the play he said he always mentioned my name. Now, that might be bullshit but it was nice of him to say that.”