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Mark Strong on 'Temple': 'I've never played anyone so close to me!'

Mark Strong
Mark Strong plays rogue surgeon Daniel Milton in the second season of Temple (Image credit: Sky Atlantic)

Mark Strong heads back underground to play rogue surgeon Daniel Milton when Temple season 2 returns to our screens this month and after the jaw-dropping cliffhanger ending to the first season, we can't wait to find out what happens next.

The first instalment finished just as Daniel’s terminally ill wife, Beth, finally awoke from her coma, after he’d kept her alive for months in an illicit clinic he built under Temple tube station. 

But despite his wife’s miraculous recovery, the surgeon’s world is crashing down around him as we rejoin the story this week and we caught up with Mark Strong to find out more about a show that's been a hit on both sides of the pond... 

Mark Strong on 'Temple' season 2...

"I think the joy of the first series was the bunker and discovering that a lot of the story took place in the tunnels underground," he says. "The concept of above ground was dangerous and the bunker was safe. So we talked about it and decided that maybe just getting them out of there and above ground would be the thing to do, they have to go and confront their fears this time."

The show was originally inspired by hit Norwegian series Valkyrien, yet Mark believes it has now escaped the shadow of that drama...

"We inherited the bones of the first season," he explains. "But it proved a great springboard and season two is entirely of our own making. I think it’s a really unique show and I would love to see where we take these characters in the years to come."

Mark on playing Daniel...

After playing so many died-in-the-wool villains in blockbuster films such as Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes, the British star also believes he’s finally found a character he can relate to...

"Sometimes you take on characters that are far removed from you, so you've got to find them somehow," he explains. "But Daniel is the closest to me that I've played. It’s as if I was in that situation and I had to deal with those problems. I kind of just drew from myself and how I might cope with all of that."

Mark on Daniel's new nemesis, Gubby...

Desperate for money, Daniel goes to work for a terrifying criminal named Gubby (Notting Hill star Rhys Ifans) in the second season...

"Gubby is such a menacing character," says Mark. "He makes the world a completely terrifying place for Daniel and Lee. There’s a lovely strand of dark comedy that runs through the show, but Gubby provides a real sense of danger. To make an audience root for the characters, you have to really believe they are genuinely flirting with danger and that’s what Gubby brings. We set him up as a nutter and Rhys really carries that role off!"

Temple season 2

Daniel's wife Beth (Catherine McCormack) demands answers from her husband. (Image credit: Sky Atlantic )

Mark on Daniel's family relationships...

Daniel wants to keep the details of his wife's treatment a secret from her, especially as he had a fling with the woman who eventually discovered the cure to her illness, research scientist Anna (Game of Thrones star Carice Van Houten).

"Daniel’s in love with Beth, but that becomes complicated because his relationship with Anna starts to develop,’" explains Mark. "What you expect is going to happen when he’s reunited with his wife doesn't happen and it actually becomes something quite different."

Meanwhile, his daughter Eve (Lily Newmark, Sex Education) who’s left university to become a climate activist, is also furious with him for lying about his mum’s death...

"He spent the whole of the first season lying to Eve, so there has to be some sort of payback," says Mark. "The relationship he wants with his daughter, the love that he wants from his wife, and the family unit that he's been desperately trying to create, just shatters under the weight of all of this deception that’s gone on."

Mark on working with Danny Mays...

"Danny is brilliant as Lee, he just gets it," explains Mark. "He's like a litmus paper for character, he knows how to play the part and he just knows how to do a scene. I remember there's one particular scene that we had to do together, where he has to lose it with me - really lose it. I just spent most of my time watching him perform, rather than doing my job, because I thought he did such a great job with it. He's a lovely guy to work with." 

Temple season 2

Danny Mays returns as transport worker Lee Simmons  (Image credit: Sky Atlantic)

Mark on filming in London during the pandemic...

"We were able to film a late night scene of me staggering around drunk in Shaftesbury Avenue and up to Piccadilly Circus without any problems, which would be impossible at any other time," he says. "We think the series shows the city in a way that isn't normally shown and we were very lucky to be able to do it."

Temple season 2 will be coming to Sky Max and NOW on Thursday, Oct. 28 at 9pm as a complete box set. 

For viewers in the US, the new episodes will be arriving on Spectrum on Monday, Nov. 1 November