Deep State - interviews with Joe Dempsie and Karima McAdams
BY Alexandra Shutova
Continuing our series of interviews with the stars of Deep State, Alexandra Shutova talks to Joe Dempsey and Karima McAdams about their roles in FOX's espionage thriller. Dempsie plays Harry Clarke, a gifted secret agent whose moral compass is proving too rigid for his kind of work, while breakthrough talent Karima plays Leyla Toumi, a smart and uncompromising elite, Intelligence Operative.
Karima McAdams as Leyla Toumi in DEEP STATE © FOX Networks Group (FNG) Europe and Africa
In our interview with Matthew Parkhill, he said that there are very strong female characters in Deep State. Tell us a little bit more about Leyla - what is she like?
Karima: Leyla's got invested interest in both sides of these worlds. She has a first-world education but culturally she is very close to the Arab world. What is interesting about her is that her journey is led by compassion and interest for reconciliation for both sides.

She is a character that has a very private nature, whether that's a cultural thing or something that's happened in her past, a kind of damage that she is trying to fix. She is a very interesting character but excruciatingly private. She is incredibly useful in the team because she was headhunted by MI6 straight out of university. Leyla speaks all kinds of Arabic dialects and is a very valuable player to the team in that sense. Her heart is in the right place, she is neutral. Or trying to be neutral. She is fighting the good cause and doing the most human thing - trying to keep peace.

Joe, your latest role was that of Gendry in Game of Thrones. How are the two roles different?
Joe: I think Harry is in a way similar to Gendry - he is trying to find his way through this rather extreme occupation that he's chosen for himself (or he thinks he's chosen for himself). At the end of the day it's a rather in-depth character study, in a way that maybe Game of Thrones hasn't been for me. It maybe is a more grown-up role. It's the first part I play that I feel like a man.

Harry has been with MI6 for a couple of years, but it's the first time he's been actively involved in assassinations. There is a lot to contend with, unless you are a cold-hearted psychopath.

There is always going to be a certain amount of conflict surrounding him. Throughout the series we see him wrestling with conscience - trying to work out what side of the conflict is he on and who is the real enemy.

Joe, you are playing the character of Harry Clarke in Deep State, a gifted secret agent with a rigid moral compass. What does the latter mean in his case?
Joe: Harry represents every man in a way, and he is whose eyes you see a lot of this story through. Harry is a very relatable character. He is a young man who was placed in an extreme situation, even though he was incredibly highly trained.

I was keen to make sure that we made him first and foremost a highly-trained MI6 operative. Not someone who bulks at the sight of blood. He is not a moral compass in that way. But he finds himself increasingly challenged by the things he has to do.

Was it hard to film in Morocco? What were the biggest challenges for your shooting there?
Karima: Morocco is still a little bit lawless to film in. It is wilder in everything. In England everything is very organized and people are extremely experienced. In Morocco, lots of things are falling from the ceiling, people knocking things over. That kind of stuff is very exciting for actors.

Joe: We filmed in Casablanca which is a 1000 times less romantic than what's shown in the film Casablanca implies. It's a bustling working city. In England, you can ask people on the streets to wait while we finish the scene. In Morocco you can't just do that - they've got their lives to live.

Karima: For us as actors, it was stimulating and exciting. On top of that, Morocco has such an incredible landscape.

Joe: Once we were shooting a sequence running through a crowded market. The only way to do it is to actually film in the market. We had store owners going nuts because they couldn't set up a shop. The way it works there is you come a week in advance and ask them to come film there, give money to the shop owners. But when you return to actually film, they say no, it wasn't me, it was my brother. You haven't paid me anything. It's a pandemonium.

Joe Dempsie as Harry Clarke in DEEP STATE © FOX Networks Group (FNG) Europe and Africa

Karima, how did you feel going back to Morocco where you grew up for your role in Deep State?
Karima: I was born in London but I grew up in Morocco to the age of 6. Then I came to London for school. It's very similar to Leyla that's why I completely understand her. It felt really interesting to come back and film there. Like her, I have invested interest in both sides. Working with an English crew who are very skilled, and with European and African coalition, there were moments when the director would come and say: there is a piece of a chess board missing and that thing that was over there has gone, can we get a props guy to come and bring it back. Then the guy would turn to the crowd and say in Arabic: he said everybody stop leaving your rubbish around, go get the bin. I'm sitting there hearing both sides, so I say: dude, come back, he said this and this.

I'm trying to help keep the peace between the two worlds. It kept me on my toes. Again, I had invested interest on both sides like Leyla.

It is more difficult to play a character that is so similar to you?
Karima: I was worried about that because when a character is really far away from you, it is easier to reach. But when something is so close to you, you have to work harder to find the sound differences. Even though I do relate to her, I think that I relate to her somehow in my past. You have to be very careful to keep inspired enough to not show yourself, because this way you would not be acting. You have to keep yourself inspired and alive.

Joe, do you have anything in common with your character?
Joe: Loads of daddy issues (laughs). Talking about Harry being the moral compass, I guess that I like to believe that I would be able to retain the sense of what is right or wrong in as extreme situation as Harry gets into.

Karima: Harry and Joe are incredibly solid-measured men: measured, considered and grounded.
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