Happy Valley's James Norton feels "immense pity" for Tommy Lee Royce

6 February 2023, 14:00 | Updated: 6 February 2023, 14:06

James Norton and Sarah Lancashire in the first series of Happy Valley
James Norton and Sarah Lancashire in the first series of Happy Valley. Picture: Everett Collection Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

The actor claims he has empathy for his character, and also called his colleagues Sarah Lancashire and Sally Wainwright "Queens of our industry" as the BBC series comes to a close.

Radio X

By Radio X

Happy Valley actor James Norton says he feels "immense pity and empathy" for his character Tommy Lee Royce.

The 37-year-old actor has played the ex-convict in the BBC show since 2014, and in spite of his villainous nature, Norton has grown to empathise with the character.

He said: "I recognise that there are absolutely despicable acts which he has committed along the way. But along that journey, I have been with him for ten years, I feel deeply sorry for him. I feel immense pity and empathy and I sort of really love him."

Read more: Happy Valley series finale: Twitter reacts to the end of the hit drama

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley. Picture: Album / Alamy Stock Photo

James has also relished the experience of working with Sally Wainwright, the show's writer, thinking there's an element of "genius" to her writing. He explained: "Tommy is the villain of the piece. He’s not a classic villain, he’s so far from that.

"He’s obviously the antagonist, traditionally. But for me personally, I’ve been living a different truth. This is where Sally is a genius, mapping this out in her mind for a decade."

The actor hailed Wainwright and Sarah Lancashire as "Queens of our industry".

Happy Valley Season 3 launch date revealed

He told GQ magazine: "You’ve got Sally Wainwright at her absolute best. Sarah Lancashire, standing opposite me, giving her absolute best. These absolute heroes, these Queens of our industry, are the best there are. So it was an absolute privilege.

"I know actors throw those big words around a lot, but it was genuinely one of the most special moments of my career."

The hit BBC drama, starring Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood and James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce, returned for a third and final season in 2023 only to conclude for good after six tense episodes, the last of which aired last night (5th February).

Happy Valley series 1-3 is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.


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