Gangs of London boss teases more action, more drama, and more gangs in season 2
In an area of woodland called Black Park, 25 miles west of the U.K.'s capital, there is skullduggery being plotted on this chilly day in November, 2021, as Gangs of London executive producer Corin Hardy shoots a scene from the show's second season. Michelle Fairley, who plays mob matriarch Marian Wallace, and Orli Shuka, who portrays Albanian mafia leader Luan Dushaj, are having an intense conversation in a car while nearby ominously squats a massive steel container. What's inside? We know, but, for spoiler reasons, can't reveal. Suffice to say that given the nature of this violent and crime-filled show, the chances of it being packed with IKEA furniture are very slim indeed. "There are dark things afoot in a container in the woods," says Hardy, greeting EW between takes. "I feel very much at home here!"
The world is not short of crime shows, nor even gangster series. But a few things immediately set Gangs of London apart when this tale of battling underworld syndicates premiered on AMC+ in 2020. Among them? The show boasts some of the most jaw-dropping action sequences ever shown on any screen, big or small.
Gangs of London was created by Welsh film director Gareth Evans and his cinematographer Matt Flannery who had essentially rewritten the action rule book with their 2011 Indonesia-set crime movie The Raid and its 2014 sequel The Raid 2. The pair brought their skilled-but-brutal aesthetic to season 1 of the show, often in scenes which centered on actor Sope Dirisu's undercover cop Elliot Finch. Season 2 showrunner Hardy may be best known for making 2018's horror hit The Nun, but he directed several season 1 episodes and is a diehard action fiend who is happy to pack the new episodes with mayhem. "There are definitely a couple of sequences this year that I'm very proud of but also the fun has been shared amongst the cast," says Dirisu, who is also on set today. "Gangs is a very ensemble show and we get to see a few more different characters weigh in on the action this year. It's great to share the burden with the rest of the cast!"
Hardy says that he is pleased with both the storylines and the action sequences he's been overseeing on season 2, which picks up the action a year after the end of season 1. "[We] tried to explore new areas and take it into directions that you might not expect," he says, "but also protect what was great about season 1, which was this balance of grounded family relationship drama and extreme fight-action-horror-Western."
Something else which makes Gangs of London special is its reflection of Britain's capital as a melting-pot city which acts as a magnet for people all over the world. Season 1 of the show featured Albanian, Kurdish, Pakistani, and Nigerian characters, and Hardy says season 2 will introduce gangs from Algeria and Georgia. The latter is led by a new character, Koba, played by Waleed Zuaiter, who has been hired by the drug lord Asif (Asif Raza Mir) to make sure that all arms deals go through Asif and the series' behind-the-scenes kingpins, "The Investors."
"Koba is a Georgian paramilitary leader who's quite a strange kettle of fish," says Hardy. "He has come to London, where arms are being dealt, and he has a sort of mandate, which is everything goes through Koba, Asif, and the Investors. Someone's not listening and things kick off when these Algerians are found to have bought a load of arms from a mysterious supplier." Dirisu says that the show's mix of nationalities makes the series "a lot more representative of the London that I grew up in and live in today. That's not to say previous gangster TV [shows] and films weren't, maybe they were focusing on a small pocket, a couple of streets of London that did look like that. But the whole city is not homogenous and I'm glad that this series represents that."
Of course, given the nature of the show, this means that people from all of the world are shown doing terrible, terrible things. Orli Shuka reveals this isn't a problem for many people in Albania, including its Prime Minister, Edi Ram. "To tell the truth, in the first season, I was a bit scared," says the actor, who himself came to live in the U.K. from Albania in the late '90s. "Because the Albanians [on the show] they're bad characters, a lot of guns. Three days after the show, the Prime Minister called me and said 'Congratulations, well done, you make us proud.' And I said, 'What? Mr. Prime Minister, are you sure you like the show?' And he said, 'I love the show, well done.' He said, 'Please survive. Don't die!'"
Albania's leader is right to be concerned about Shuka's future on the show. One thing Gangs of London does have in common with other gangster series is that characters do die. Colm Meaney's crime boss Finn Wallace was murdered in the show's pilot and his son Sean, played by Joe Cole, was killed by Dirisu's Elliot in the season 1 finale. That demise will loom over season 2 as Sean's drug addict brother Billy Wallace, portrayed by Brian Vernel, discovers that Elliot has returned to the U.K. after a period abroad working for the Investors. "At the end of the first season Billy tells Elliot, if anything happens, I'm going to kill you," says Vernel. "And of course something does happen to him. At the start of the series Billy is out in another country with his sister [Valene Kane] and [his] life seems to be on a cleaner trajectory, he seems to be soaking up the sun, and then he finds out Elliot's back in London."
Hmm. Sounds like maybe not everyone will be getting out of these woods alive.
The cast of Gangs of London season 2 also includes Paapa Essiedu, Lucian Msamati, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Narges Rashidi, Jahz Armando, Fady El-Sayed, Salem Kali, and Aymen Hamdouchi.
EW can exclusively reveal that the first two episodes of Gangs of London season 2 will premiere on AMC+ Nov. 17. After that date, one episode will premiere every Thursday.
See exclusive images of Sope Dirisu in season 2 of Gangs of London above and watch the show's new trailer below.
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