The Fallen Sun Writer and director about the joys and horrors of John Luther’s London [Exclusive Interview]

Did you also shoot in real London Underground tunnels?

Payne: We did. I think one of the things people don’t realize is that the network of tunnels that exist under our feet in London is quite extensive and extraordinary. The number of ghost tunnels that when we’re in the subway, and of course they’re not lit, we can’t see them. That when we go down our normal and ordinary daily subway ride, we will pass a number of ghost tunnels. And again, TfL [Transport for London], we’re all lucky they’re “Luther” fans. They have helped “Luther” along the way in difficult places throughout the series. So they were ready to open the tunnels and let us film there.

And let me tell you, there was a point where I was talking about the footage and Neil and I got off. It was just Neil and me in these ghostly tunnels, sounds and shadows. Now I had been there a few times before but watching Neil react to this space again really reminded me [of] the thing that Neil talks about a lot. He writes this incredible primal fear into these stories because that’s what he feels. That’s not how he wants people to feel. That’s how he feels. And I was lucky enough to stand in those spaces with Neil, which I won’t forget, let me tell you.

Cross: Jamie, my friend, calls me chicken on camera.

Payne: No, I’m not!

Cross: In public, calling me a coward. But of course he is absolutely right.

That’s another thing it has in common with “American Werewolf.” Because this movie has the big sequence in the London Underground.

Payne: Oh yeah.

Cross: Of course.

Payne: Now can I tell you something about that? “American Werewolf in London”, there is a photo that I stole or that inspired me. I don’t think I ever admitted it to Neil, but Neil will say I noticed.

Cross: In season 5.

Payne: In season 5, on the bus in this terrifying sequence where the lone lady on a night bus is assaulted. There’s a shot where you could see our killer come in at the bottom of the frame and crawl. And it was absolutely stolen from “American Werewolf in London”.

I think as long as it looks good there is nothing wrong with flying. There’s that gunshot in [season 3] it’s very “Suspiria”, where the guy’s head is pushed through the ceiling.

Payne: Yeah.

Cross: Well, as long as these things are done with love, that’s the main thing. And one of the things that drives both Jamie and me is that we’re into stuff. And there is the cynical theft, there is the theft that stems from creative bankruptcy. And there’s like the Beatles playing Chuck Berry. It is a function of love.

Yeah, like a tribute.

Cross: Yeah. It’s not even that. It’s just that it’s so cool, it’s just a fun thing to do.

Speaking of being fan stuff, how did you balance bringing in stuff that fans might enjoy, and making this movie accessible to newcomers who had never watched an episode of “Luther”?

Cross: I wish I could look you in the eye and tell you I knew how to do this. But the truth was, it was extraordinarily difficult.

Payne: Yeah, it was a daily obsession, seriously, with how to do those two things. I think that was the title of each day’s banner that we had in production and release. Literally, we only finished the movie X weeks ago and I think that conversation has continued. Because it was essential to do both. It was essential to have a standalone film that could attract a new audience, but it was also essential that the audience, who had been so loyal for so long, felt that this was the continuation of the story. We had to realize these two things or we would have failed.


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