Ordeal by Innocence star Anthony Boyle on playing Slytherins and his anti-spoiler policy
The actor, who also stars as Scorpius Malfoy in 'The Cursed Child' on Broadway, plays a murder suspect in the Agatha Christie adaptation
Anthony Boyle was nominated for a Tony for his scene-stealing performance as Scorpius Malfoy in the Broadway blockbuster, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If you haven’t been able to see the New York City production yet, you can catch the Belfast-born actor as another son of a distinguished family with plenty of dark secrets in Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence on Amazon Prime Video. Boyle plays Jack Argyll, one of five adoptive children of a wealthy English family, who is imprisoned for the murder of the family matriarch. At the story’s onset, Jack is dead, having been killed in a prison fight, just as new evidence comes to light to prove that he might have been innocent after all. And there are no Time Turners here to set things right…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The character of Mickey was recast after the show had already been shot. How did re-shoots work with your incredibly demanding Cursed Child schedule?
ANTHONY BOYLE: So I was over rehearsing Harry Potter in New York, and the producers luckily were very accommodating and gave me two days off to basically get on a redeye, land in Glasgow, get my hair cut, do a scene, and then fly back. So that would have been at the start of the year — February, maybe?
Very, very busy indeed.
Agatha Christie actually said Ordeal By Innocence was one of her two favorite novels she had written. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s just such a cool story. I love, like in all of her stories, the bizarre richness of all of the characters. Everyone is so fleshed out and I think [writer] Sarah Phelps married that with her script even though she took liberties. Obviously, for me [those changes] were for the better: The character I play is a memory in the book, he’s not really in it. And Sarah has done such a cool job in creating the character just from things that were written about him.
The snippets we do get of Jack Argyll are so compelling and cryptic. How would you describe him?
I think he’s just very, very messed up. In a lot of ways, he’s one of the few people in the show who’s honest. Everyone is keeping secrets and lies, and I think, in a bizarre way, he’s one of the most truthful characters.
Do you see any similarity to Scorpius Malfoy? Sort of this famous son who people expect to be worse than he might actually be?
Maybe. I felt that he was a bit like Lady Macbeth in the structure of the piece. Like, he’s the catalyst for so much even though he’s quite rarely in it, but every time he is, he’s a driving force behind a lot of the action.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending to the mini-series will definitely still be surprising to people who’ve read the book. Were you shocked by the ending?
I read the script first [before the book]. I was actually just sent one scene and I accepted it. The scene was Jack and Leo in the prison, that scene. I was sent that, and I just went, “This is incredible. This is so beautifully written.” And then I went and read the book. It was the first Agatha Christie I ever read as well and I really fell in love with her writing. The only thing I knew of Agatha Christie was like, Miss Marple. You know, those British TV shows that are on at like 3 o’clock in the day, that your grandma watches? The butler did it! You know, with ridiculous mustaches. That’s what I knew of Agatha Christie. And then reading the book, I was like, “This is just gripping writing.” I could not turn the pages fast enough.
We did just get another Agatha Christie adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express, which did feature a ridiculous mustache.
I didn’t see that! I did see the posters. I quite liked his mustache in that. I thought it was a good, big choice from The Branagh. That’s what I aspire to be. I aspire to have a mustache like that in a movie one day.
The motto of Cursed Child is “Keep the Secrets” and Ordeal by Innocence is a classic whodunit, but what is your personal spoiler policy?
Spoilers are awful. I don’t see the point in it. Awful, awful, awful people who spoil things.
I…. think I’m actually pro-spoiler. Not ruining things for other people, just for myself.
What?! Oh my god. My little sister, she’s 13, and she reads the back page of a book before she reads a book.
I do that too.
I want to hang up. Oh my god. Why?! It ruins the whole story. Why?
Because then I don’t have to be anxious and I can just enjoy it.
That is so bizarre. I like the suspense. I like not knowing.
In addition to this Christie adaptation, you were also in the Patrick Melrose series. Is there another book adaptation you’d want to be a part of?
I just finished a [Haruki] Murakami novel. You ever hear of that guy Murakami? I just finished Norwegian Wood and I thought that would be like a cool TV show, and I think I’d play that guy quite well. He just has a detached, sort of — I don’t know. I just thought it would be a cool TV series. I also just started reading Catcher in the Rye. I’ve never read it. Because I’m in America now, I wanted to soak up classic American novels and pieces of art and stuff. So I’m trying to check that off my box.