Alan Cubitt: “I think so. I think crimes of that complexity are always interesting. It’s not really about finding lots of evidence, building up a case in quite the conventional way either. So I think you’re right. I think for me the crime is the starting point to an exploration of lots of other things I find interesting and I’m glad that you find interesting too about the nature of human beings, human interaction, male/female relationships, aggression, violence, love, human compassion, empathy. All those things I think are bubbling around in The Fall all the time and that’s the stuff that interests me. I started out as a playwright and I think of myself as a playwright. It’s important to me that TV drama is about something.”
Is Spector aware as a grief counselor that he’s causing the sort of traumas his patients are experiencing, or does he compartmentalize those two sides of himself?
Alan Cubitt: “No, I think they’re linked in a way that Jamie perhaps doesn’t want to acknowledge. In my initial reading, it’s quite clear, with very few exceptions – Col. Russell Williams is an interesting exception to the rule – that most of the people who perpetrate crimes like this are not high achievers. They have a very, very high opinion of themselves, often thinking that they’re cleverer than anyone else, and that they should’ve been destined for great things but somehow the world has conspired against them and they have not achieved what they think they should’ve achieved. So they have a huge sense of entitlement and a huge sense of anger at the world. They are frequently, therefore, drawn to jobs where they’re able to wield a degree of control.
There’s a weird number of them who wanted to be police officers in some kind of way but have ended up either as hangers-on to police culture or performing acts where they have some kind of control they can exercise. Like Dennis Rader who was some sort of counsel. He was giving people tickets for their grass being too long or impounding dogs who were stray. What he would do when he found a dog that was stray, he’d have it put down and then he’d tell the people that he had to have it put down. He wouldn’t give them the chance to claim the dog. He was wielding a kind of cruel, sadistic power over people.
The other thing that they’re sometimes drawn to is jobs with mobility. So that’s what set me thinking about the idea of the bereavement counselor. I think he gets some perverse pleasure from their grief and he feeds off of their grief in some kind of way. And I think he’s very aware that he is the cause of that kind of grief. He finds it empowering in some fashion.”
You said Jamie would disagree. I asked him and he actually agreed that Spector was aware of both sides.
Alan Cubitt: “Oh, okay, good. I think as an actor he wanted to feel that there was love for his daughter or that there was some professional concern. For me, the thing that I decided to do with the bereavement counselor was to set myself the task that everything he says is legitimate, possibly even good advice. In season one, when Liz Tyler turns to her husband and is angry at him for not being able to articulate the way he feels, Spector says, ‘Men and women grieve differently, Liz. Try not to make comparisons.’ I think that’s true and it’s also good advice, but we know he’s manipulative. We know he’s feeding off their emotions in a way. We know when he tells her that she should not feel threatened in her own home, it’s ridiculously ironic. When he says, ‘The fault is always with the abuser, not with the abused. Stop your husband. Let’s get him in prison.’ That’s because he wants Tyler out of his life so there’s always this sense that Spector is trying to play everything and everybody. He needs to control everything. What’s interesting is that Gibson is trying to control everything too so you’ve got two people trying to control the world around them when in fact it’s probably an impossible thing to achieve anyway.”
It is good advice, better than snapping a rubber band every time you feel depressed.
Alan Cubitt: [Laughs] “But it worked for her. We have yet to find out when she did that, but yeah.”
In between seasons, when Jamie got cast in this blockbuster movie, had you plotted out season two already? Did you know that when you had Jamie Dornan tying up women, that might relate to his other role?
Alan Cubitt: “Yes, I didn’t think I had any choice but to continue to do what it is that I’d set out to do in the first place. I’ve tried to not involve myself in that other project in any way. I don’t really know what happens in it. I don’t really know what he does in it. I think inevitably when it comes out, it might have an impact on where we go beyond the second season with The Fall.”
Alan Cubitt: “I hope so.”
I assume that was in his character before he was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey?
Alan Cubitt: “Completely. The Fall preceded that and it’s entirely Jamie’s decision to go for a part that has a sadomasochistic dimension to it. You’re right, I had worked out a modus operandi for Spector which included using bindings and that’s what I decided to do from reading the research. It felt coherent. It felt real. It was based on extensive research.”
The name Spector suggests a ghost perhaps. Was that part of your design?
Alan Cubitt: “I had the notion that he was an outsider in some kind of way, that when I brought in Gibson from the outside that he would be someone who wasn’t in the bosom of an extended family that had a name that is not Northern Irish, that stood out. Obviously there’s the thing about it being a Jewish name and that’s worked through the second season as well. Fewer people picked up on Spector as a spectre than I thought would. All the names are guitars.”
That was on the internet, so it’s intentional?
Alan Cubitt: “Yes. I am a guitar player and I have a love obsession with guitars. So Gibson and Spector are both guitar makes. Spector is a guitar make but I must have felt as I was searching around in names that it suited him in some kind of way, but I’m glad to say that no one has said how convenient it is that he’s called Spector when he does hold the drama in a nighttime sense.”