Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series?

(5) For Holliday Grainger: Can you give us an estimate of how many times since you were cast as Robin Ellacott that you have been asked about your relationship with Hermione Granger? Is it a daily event?

(6) For Tom Burke: The big mystery of the series is the death of Leda Strike and whether Jonny Rokeby had her killed. Strike was named ‘Blue’ for ‘Blue Oyster Cult’ (whose lead singer has “pube hair” and Leda Strike pursued). Strike does not resemble Rokeby in any way; he takes after his uncle in Cornwall. Do you think Strike is really Rokeby’s son? That the rock star killed Leda because of information she knew about things he had done in the past? [Leda told Cormoran that Rokeby was not a good man when on drugs…]

(7) There seem to be quite a few connections between the fictional Jonny Rokeby and the real life Mick Jagger (see links below). Strike super fans expect Rokeby to appear in Lethal White, book four in the series, the way that the Dark Lord took the stage in Goblet of Fire. Any thoughts yet about who will play this crucial role in the teevee series?

Rokeby-Rolling Stones links:

Comments

  1. Wayne Stauffer says:

    Will these programs be teevee versions of the novels, or will they be new stories that involve the novel characters?

  2. Hey, I can answer that one!

    The BBC adaptations are three-part re-tellings of each book, not new stories featuring the characters and settings.

  3. Moonflower says:

    Hello John! It’s Susan from Omaha…will Cormoran’s disfigurement play a significant part in the TV series? (I’m thinking of Peeta in Hunger Games, whose loss of a limb was disregarded in the screenplay.) If so, I would like to know why Cormoran doesn’t seem to have a significant medical pension from the British Army. Surely his injury would have warranted a medical discharge and near-100% tax-free retirement?

  4. I left out the link to the arrest record of the Rolling Stones, mostly on drug charges. Rokeby’s wikipedia page refers to a notorious drug bust in the US during a tour his band was making, an event that may be part of why Leda Strike was murdered (and/or why Cormoran Strike is said to be his son?).

  5. Hey, Susan! Great to hear from you —

    Strike lost a limb, but his injury was not career ending because his position was the investigative branch of the military police rather than combat arms. He recalls the situation not as his being forced out of service because of the amputation; he tells us instead that the Army was quite keen on his staying in. He was the one who elected to leave lest he never be able to escape the military mind-set.

    I don’t think those particulars qualify him for a military retirement. I hope someone who knows the UK military customs and rules in such matters checks in to tell us if Cormoran could have retired on disability.

  6. My questions would center around the writing, and the violence level.

    Specifically, I’d as what they left in, and what got taken out. Was this done, for time, or to reduce any potential shock value? Do their deletions still manages to retain all the major, important story beats, the ones that can’t be taken out without altering the story beyond recognition?

    Also, the Striker a typical Noir Thriller, which means its violence level borders pretty much on the Slasher film in terms of the violence level.
    are you willing to go the “Breaking Bad” route, and keep most of the violence intact? For instance, do they leave the set piece of Owen Quine’s murder as it is in the book? Or did you decide to rewrite that scene altogether? Doing so would constitute a major change, as Rowling made sure that seen had thematic resonance.

    Also, changing up certain moments of violence could alter her message about assault against women. Have any of the scenes that tackle this issue been altered as well?

    Just asking.

  7. Just thought of something.

    How would they handle something like “Bombix Mori”? That text within the text is sort of one of the key plot elements in “Silkworm”. If you take that out, and leave Quine’s murder scene intact, then that scene, along with a lot of the rest of the narrative will have no context or motivation.

    Leaving it all in, however, could pose some problems. I don’t know how mainstream, non-Strike reading, audiences will handle a concept as cerebral as “Bombix”. Maybe you can just show Strike reading the text, and just give enough proper hints so that audiences can connect the dots when “The Silkworm’s” big set piece comes in. At least that’s the best strategy I can think of doing. Toss off enough hints to pique the audiences interest without alienating them, which is what “Bombix” would probably do, in all likelihood.

    I just hope they realize its an important plot element and don’t botch it up.

  8. John Rokeby left Leda well before her death. The guy who supposedly caused her death was not Rokeby but her last boyfriend, Jeff Whittaker.

  9. Yes, Roman, this is true!

    But do you think the over-arching story in the Strike mysteries is about Jeff Whittaker?

    Neither do I. There’s much more to the death of Leda Strike than her disagreements with Whittaker, her husband not boyfriend, about her secret fortune he was convinced she was keeping from him.

    Hence the assumption in my questions that the super bad-guy is the never revealed but looming presence of Jonny Rokeby. I think we’ll get the connection between Rokeby and Whittaker in Book 4 or Book 5.

    Thank you, though, for sharing your thought!

  10. Joanne Gray says:

    John, I like your idea about Jonny Rokeby, although there are some things against the idea that he is the murderer of Leda Strike:

    1. The fact that it’s 20 years later and Leda and Cormoran appear to be basically out of his Rokeby’s life.
    2. If Leda is blackmailing Jonny to keep quiet about something—this will puts Leda in a bad light too—and Cormoran is quite fierce in protecting her.

    But it seems there are more reasons for Jonny to figure into THE case at the heart of the Cormoran Strike series: Who killed Cormoran’s mother.
    So reasons that have been put forth for why Jonny Rokeby might have killed Leda:

    1. Maybe he was trying to kill 2 birds with one stone; framing Whittaker for murder—because Whittaker was trying to extort money from him and by killing Whittaker’s wife the police would naturally see the husband as the most likely suspect. Also by murdering Leda, Rokeby would (just like Elizabeth Tassel) finally put an end to Leda’s blackmail.
    2. Also, the fact that he and Leda were together 20 years ago—would actually work in his favor because people would discount any connection between them—asking why would someone kill a person from 20 years ago who is no longer in their life.
    3. I agree that it does seem anti-climatic to have the killer known from the very start of the series (Whittaker) and to also have that suspect be the most likely suspect.
    4. It also makes sense that the real killer would be someone we have heard about but who has yet to actually come on stage/page. Book 4 sounds like it should be the book for that appearance. (Not to mention he needs a real big appearance and story since he’s the protagonist’s reluctant father—and paternity figures in quite importantly throughout—from Lula Landry to Strike’s own questions about the possible child with Charlotte.)

    (On a side note—we have yet to hear the names (I think) of any of the “Deadbeats” songs. I now wonder if one of those songs might not be “Lethal White”?)

  11. Joanne,

    I have to admit I tend to want to agree with you about Rokeby as the real over-arching villain of the series.

    My own reasons come down to questions of clout and connections. The fact is that Whittaker doesn’t strike me (no pun intended) as any kind of V.I.P. in the celebrity based world of the music industry. Rokeby, on the other hand, is apparently meant to be seen in the same light as Mick Jagger. In other words, within the secondary world of Cormoran Strike, Daddy Dearest is meant to be seen as Rock and Roll Royalty.

    Even if Rokeby were being blackmailed by Whittaker, there is still the question of how far such schemes could go considering that Rokeby could have enough influence in the industry, and hence enough power to make problems like Whittaker go away, if he so desired it, anyway. Of course, if you want to draw real life parallels, the Post-Weinstein media might not allow Rokeby to get away with it. However, the timeline of the series is set long before any recent showbiz revelations. So Rokeby would still have a window in
    which to do pretty much as he pleases in terms of making any problems go away.

    It’ll be interesting to see which direction either the story goes, or which direction Ms. Rowling will choose to take in term of creative decisions re: the Strike series.

    I did managed to read about some interesting news on LeakyCaulron.org about the future of the series. Granted, this news came from Ruth Kenley-Letts, a producer of the TV show and not the Word of God, so feel free to use as much salt as necessary. However, considering Ms. Rowling is a stickler for controlling what information she wants getting out to her fans, I’m incline to wonder if this isn’t a deliberate slip of what’s going on behind the scenes. In other words, I can’t help but wonder if this is Ms. Rowling’s way of giving her fans some info on the future of her books, albeit at second hand.

    The producer seems to know something about when Book 4, “Lethal White”, will be released, but doesn’t give away anything substantive. The one passage that probably is relevant goes as follows:

    “Fans of the Galbraith novels can’t help but hope that Cormoran and Robin will end up together, but so far there have just been hints in that direction, so the producer’s response to whether or not she’s read book four will be of particular interest to those wishing these partners-in-crime get a happy ending,

    “I can’t say. I’m sorry. But just as a reader of the books, it seems fairly clearly to me that what Jo has written, as Robert Galbraith, is a love story between two characters. She’s clearly a master of spinning stories, and spinning them out into the right length, and her intention has always been to write a handful of these stories. As long as she feels that that relationship is alive, exciting, and fresh, I think she’ll continue. I think there will be a number of books. She’s been quoted as saying that she’s got 7 to 9 Strike books that she can imagine writing. Whether it will end up being five, six or nine, I don’t know, but I would put money on a bet that she will make us all wait for quite a few books before that relationship between the two of them is resolved.”

    “At the same time, Kenley-Letts expressed some apprehension over a romantic relationship between the two characters,

    “This job is really important to Robin and her character development, in terms of her past and what happened to her at university. She’s finally doing something that she loves doing. She’s found her vocation and what she’s meant to be doing. So, I don’t really want them to end up together because that would ruin everything, wouldn’t it? You can’t mix work with pleasure. We all know that that’s a really bad idea. So, I’m sure Jo will really enjoy spinning those plays.”

    I find these statements interesting for a number of reasons.

    On one hand, they don’t give us much in terms of the immediate plot of the future book.
    On the other, however, it is just possible that perhaps Rowling is indirectly trying to steer her fans in the direction she wants them to go by dropping second-hand hints about the future relationship between Robin and Strike. She calls the series “a love story between two characters”. Unless that means Matthew is going to be revealed as the true main character of the series, that statement can only mean that Robin and Strike are being referenced as the major couple for this particular literary endeavor.

    The idea that Strike and Robin are the couple of the books does at least raise a few questions. For instance what happens to Matthew if we’re meant to side with a Robin/Strike pairing? I hate to say it, however one thought that did occur was that Matthew may wind up the “Designated Digory” at some future point in the series. It might even be possible that by the end of Book 4, Rowling will have dug Matt’s pit, and then tossed the character into it. If such a scenario came about, then it does open the door toward possibilities of how the characters would immediately react to such a plot twist.

    I can imagine, for instance, Robin being so grief stricken that the specter of the possible death impinging her ability to relate to Strike for quite a while. She could, for instance, take it into her head to try and make the killer (whether it’s Rokeby or someone else) pay for his crimes. In such a case, she’d be taking justice into her own hands. This is a trope that has been used before. The Noir genre is filled with detectives who have chosen to take a walk on the wild side in the name of bringing a case to a close. It’s just par for the course in this kind of story. If Rokeby winds killing Matt, either in person or by a subordinate, then maybe Strike could even get roped into the same situation. In that case, both character would have to decide if they want to be Nick and Nora, or else Bonnie and Clyde.

    This is all just theory, however. We’ll all have to wait see which direction Rowling will take the narrative. The one thing I do maintain is that I think Ms. J.K. was hinting that she means us to see Strike and Robin as the main couple of the series. What this means on a symbolic, thematic level is something I’m not at all sure of. Either way, that was the main takeaway from Ms. Letts’ words.

    As for whether coupling with Strike interferes with Robin as a character, that’s the reason I cited Nick and Nora Charles. They are a husband and wife detective duo created by Dashiell Hammet for his novel “The Thin Man”. I will note that in the course of the novel, we’re introduced to a character named Halsey Edge. What’s notable about him is his wife. “Her name was Leda, but he called her Tip (108)”. Anyway, the reason I cite Nick and Nora is to point why coupling Robin with Strike can makes sense in a way that does not diminish her character. Nora Charles was always just as much an integral part of any investigation that reached her doorstep, along her husband.

    Maybe the ultimate fate of both main Denmark Street characters is to become the new Nick and Nora. If so, then trust me, such an outcome would be one of the better endings for a Noir story, by an incredibly wide margin. Either way, so far, I’d say, whatever Ms. Rowling wants to do with the characters, (shrugs) “It’s okay with me”.

    The article by the way can be found here:

    http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/2018/06/10/strike-producer-on-finding-chemistry-and-planning-for-lethal-white/

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