Jul.16 / 2014

Get to Know The Smoke’s Rhashan Stone Before Thursday’s Premiere

What is it to be a hero in everyday life? What is it to be a man? In this fearless, original eight-part series, vibrant British writer Lucy Kirkwood (Skins, Chimerica) throws out the familiar risk-and-rescue formula of emergency drama to create an authentic and sharply funny depiction of life as an ordinary hero in Britain today.

Filmed against the backdrop of East London’s extraordinarily diverse and colourful landscape, The Smoke stars Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order: UK ) as Kev, a veteran firefighter searching for justice after the most traumatic call-out of his career causes him to question himself, both as a hero and as a man. Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) plays Trish, Kev’s girlfriend, who is striving to hold on to love and hope against the odds, while Rhashan Stone (Strike Back) is Kev’s best mate Mal, whose loyalty is tested to the extreme.

Find out what lead actor Rhashan Stone has to say about The Smoke and don’t miss the series premiere tomorrow at 10E/7P on M3.

How does Mal fit into the White Watch group?

Mal is the character that makes the wheels come off. He’s selfish, which leads to a lot of problems. He isn’t a bad guy, though, and he shows that with Kev. They’ve been best friends for as long as they can remember and when Kev is hospitalized Mal is there, no questions about it. There are two sides to him. He’s a tricky bugger.

Is it fair to call him a bit of a ladies’ man?

He’s a lot of a ladies’ man. He loves sex and is completely upfront about it, but he’s not derogatory. If a woman is up for it, then he is too.

What attracted you to the role?

The script. When my agent first mentioned a series about firefighters, I’d thought it would be a traditional show where every week somebody’s stuck in a building and the crew save them, but as soon as I started reading I knew I was wrong and was instantly blown away. It’s completely different to other firefighting dramas. I thought it was brilliant and I just had to be a part of it.

You were also in Strike Back. Was the physical side of this role another draw?

I love that aspect. I spent two years jumping out of helicopters and shooting guns on Strike Back and in The Smoke we’re climbing skyscrapers and filming underwater. It’s got everything. Performing demanding and high-energy sequences taught me new skills every day.

What were your favourite action scenes?

The one that made the biggest impression on me is from episode five. Mal and Asbo are sent underground into a derelict factory to look for a missing girl and the ceiling collapses. There’s a gas explosion and they end up falling into a sewer and nearly drowning. It was great because we got to run from a fireball, film in water tanks and learn how to fight underwater. It’s incredible that so much content is packed into one episode. Mike Barker, the lead director, described the project as a film and that attitude really changed my approach to the work.

The White Watch team enjoy some lively banter. Was that reflected on set by the cast?

Yes, there was a brilliant atmosphere. All the actors who make up White Watch are naturally very funny people. We get quite silly sometimes but from the firefighters I’ve spoken to it’s quite true to life because there’s often a lot of downtime on the job. We have former firefighters as supporting artists and they always play pranks on each other. It’s great to see.

It’s a difficult time for firefighters at present and The Smoke addresses some of the internal problems in the service. How do you think real firefighters will react to the series?

I’m not sure, really. I’ve got a friend who is a firefighter and she was fascinated to hear about the show. I hope people watching realise we aren’t creating a documentary. It’s not real life; it’s drama and someone creates the stories. That said, we tried to bring as many real details to it as possible. The cast all did fire training and we had experts on set to show us how
firefighters move and behave. A lot of time and effort was spent trying to make it feel authentic.