The 'Love Actually' actor talks about his new Victorian-era whodunnit

In the just-released Victorian-era whodunnit The Limehouse Golem, Bill Nighy plays a London policeman investigating a series of savage murders while also attempting to help prove the innocence of Olivia Cooke’s actress, who is suspected of poisoning her late husband. It’s a plum role for the Love Actually star, but Nighy seems to have been attracted to the character as much for his profession as for his leading part in proceedings.

“I’ve always wanted to be a detective,” he says. “I get a bang out of saying, ‘I am Detective Superintendent John Kildare of Scotland Yard,’ every time I say it.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell us a little bit about your character.
He is an isolated figure in a corrupt police force — isolated by his honesty, and decency, because he’s sort of the last honest man, honest policeman left. And he and his constable George Flood, played by the estimable Danny Mays, we search 1880 London, amidst the fog, for clues concerning a terrible murder case, which has been given to him largely to discredit him. Because his corrupt superiors have handed him a poisoned chalice, hoping that he’ll fail, because they view the case as unsolvable.

It’s an interesting mix of fiction and reality. I guess you never thought you’d play a character who interrogates Karl Marx.
[Chuckles] No, exactly. And that’s another large part of the appeal of the script. I loved that combination of fictional and factual. So, yeah, it was great and I thought Henry (Goodman) delivered a great Karl Marx.

You have a lot of scenes with Olivia Cooke, who is well known in America for Bates Motel. What was she like?
She’s charming. Absolutely delightful. Dreamy to do business with. I’d work with her any day of the week, any day of the month. She made me laugh and she’s a really smart and lovely girl.

Tell me about the director, Juan Carlos Medina.
Juan Carlos? Yeah. He was very cool. It was his first English-speaking movie. He had a great eye for detail. He had the whole movie in his head. He was very clear on the style, the general tone of the performances that he wanted, and indeed of the film as a whole, and I’m very pleased for him because it’s been so brilliantly received here (in the U.K.).

The film has some terrific costumes and sets.
Yeah, given it’s not a very big budget movie. What the costume departments, and prop departments, and design departments, all departments, what they achieve with the resources they’re given never ceases to astound me. We did have some difficulty. We caught the end of a hurricane in Yorkshire. We built a London street in Yorkshire and that was completely flooded. You had to shoot the actors above the knees because below the knees they were underwater. And the electricians had to lie on the lamps for fear that they would blow away in the hurricane. And the green screen blew over. So, that was an interesting day at the office.

Would you welcome the opportunity to say “I am Detective Superintendent John Kildare of Scotland Yard” again?
Yeah, I’d love to play the role again. And there has been talk that Danny Mays and I should have a spin-off and Detective Superintendent John Kildare of Scotland Yard and his doughty constable George Flood should ride again. And I agree!

The Limehouse Golem is now in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD. Watch the film’s trailer, above.