Tom Hiddleston may not have set out to make The Night Manager his unofficial Bond audition, but three episodes in that’s exactly what it’s become, shirtless running along a Mediterranean beach and sexy exiting from a swimming pool included. Which is not to take anything away from the brilliant adaptation of Le Carre’s taught thriller.
It’s all a little muddy at the beginning, deliberately so, but as the action progresses we see Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine morph into more than just a tall drink of water in a well cut suit. There’s a steel core and a beast waiting to emerge. Which is probably a good thing when he ends up in the inner circle of the diabolical Richard Roper, played with disturbing quietness by Hugh Laurie. This is off-set wonderfully by his loud, arse of a right hand man, Corky played by Tom Hollander.
In the middle of this you have Ropers girlfriend, Jed, who knows her place and goes about things all too quietly, with good reason we later discover. Elizabeth Debicki is a fantastic actress, cool, sophisticated and built for a role like this, her switch between her public persona amongst Roper’s associates and her frailty behind closed doors is wonderful. We’re also blessed with the wonderful Olivia Coleman as Burr, Pine’s recruiter and handler. It’s a role originally written for a man, so it was Colman’s to make her own. Unintentional at her time of being cast, the fact that Colman was very pregnant during filming only adds to her character. A covert meeting with Pine at an ice cream van in episode 3 for instance, would have played out so considerably differently had she been a man, or just not been pregnant.
It is though, all boiling down to a brilliant masterclass from Hiddleston and more importantly, from Laurie. We wait 40 minutes to meet the man foreshadowed as ‘the worst man in the World’ and when he finally appears, he slinks onto our screens with a mixture of affability and underlying danger and it’s perfect.