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I TALK TO Edoardo Ballerini

Edoardo Ballerini makes an appearance in the latest episode of Ripper Street as Frank Goodnight and I caught up with him to find out a little bit more about the series and his character.

Tell us a bit about your background...

I've been doing a lot of television of late, in the States Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos and before that 24. I got started (laughs) a long time ago. It's a funny story actually, I was in Italy and I was studying Latin, of all things, and I got really bored one day so I just chucked it all out of the window and joined a Theatre company. 

So yeah, it was very spur of the moment and then I went back to New York, where I'm from, and started studying at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and then I just started working. 

Fast forward a little bit, years later I was in a film called Dinner Rush and I was over in London doing some publicity for it, and I met the women who had become my agents over there and I kept trying and trying and trying to work in British television. I really wanted to, and it just took years and years and then finally Ripper Street came along.

What can you tell us about your character in Ripper Street?

I had originally read for the Homer Jackson role and the producers saw my audition and said "Well, we're not going to go with you for this role, but there's this other role at the end of the first series which you'll be perfect for." So without giving too much away, a lot of the questions about Homer's backstory, what he's running from, will be answered when Frank Goodnight, my character, shows up. 

So you'll get a full circle story about Homer's past, the background and all of his history in the United States. Homer and I have a long history which gets resolved when I arrive. 

I don't want to give too much away but I come over from the United States, essentially looking for him and then you figure out, you understand his whole history.

If you could describe Frank Goodnight in two words what would they be?

Cold Bastard. 

Why's that?

Well he's a cold hearted man, he has a chip on his shoulder, he's got a score to settle and he goes about his business very methodically .

Were you familiar with Jack The Ripper before taking on the role?

Of course! I don't think anybody isn't. I also have an old friend who lives in London who used to do the Ripper Walks in London, so she used to be a guide on the Ripper Walks. So when i was in London years ago, I jumped on and did the Ripper Walk with her, so that was my big history lesson on it. 

So, what made you agree to play the part?

I wanted to do something in British television for a long time and it's a brilliant part that they wrote, and it was just a brilliant combination. I'll also say, we filmed in Dublin and I had for years and years been wanting to spend time in Dublin. It was like the perfect combination of things.

You've starred in big US Dramas such as The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, how do you feel British Drama compares to US Drama?

The quality is certainly as good, if not better. I mean there's no difference there. Production is obviously a bit smaller in terms of production scale. You know, it's not a secret that American shows have more to spend. I found that everybody (on Ripper Street) the cast, the crew and director were everything I expected.

They were so good and so professional and the writing was so crisp and the actors were such a model to work with. I mean Matt (MacFadyen), Jerome (Flynn) and Adam (Rothenberg) and MyAnna (Buring) and everybody, not only are they incredibly talented but they're wonderful people, and I got to know them and we sort of became friends by the end of my time there. It was a wonderful experience, it really was.

How long did it take you to film?

I was three and-a-half weeks in Dublin filming the episode, technically I'm in two episodes but most of it is in the one. If there was a difference I noticed between American television and British television, at least in Ripper Street, the production was so much more efficient.

I mean there's a lot of time on American television where there's a lot of down time and you're waiting for things to be set up, and I found that this just moved along. You know we would start at 7 in the morning and end at 7 at night. You were really not stopping all day. It was wonderful and I welcome more of it.

So have you got any more British shows lined up?

Well, I can't say definitively, there are a couple of things that have some interest in me, and I would have some interest in that. So we're trying to work it out. So maybe. Fingers crossed. I really had such a wonderful experience.

And finally, why should we tune in to your episode?

I didn't see the 6 episodes that came before, because we're delayed actually, over here in the States. We're a few weeks behind so I haven't seen everything. But what I gather from everybody on set is that  in Episode 7, where Frank Goodnight shows up, there's a real twist in the story and a different kind of feel to the story than there has been previously. Everybody was really remarking at how unique that episode was. 

I think part of it was because you have a whole other American storyline in it. You've been watching Homer and he's the foreigner and everybody else is British and and then all of a sudden you get this jolt from America that shows up. And I think it changes the tone of the show, there was more humour in our episode than there had been previously. 

So I think, for fans of the show they'll get what they've been liking about the show plus a little new feel to it.

Ripper Street continues Sundays at 9pm on BBC One


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