Can you tell us a bit about Martina Cole's The Runaway?
"Its dramatic arc covers three decades, I think - late 50s, 60s and 70s. I think - as Martina always does - she draws a wonderful picture of the world through her character and the plots. You're taken through those decades, through the underbelly of Soho."
Were you already a fan of Martina's work?
"I've known Martina for years, a long time, through drinking at Gerry's and Groucho. So we've always been friends. And I was excited about doing this because I'd seen The Take, which was just really, really brilliant."
Did being friends with Martina add extra pressure for you working on the show?
"No, not at all. I've actually done voiceovers and a lot of radio commercials for her books and for her TV programmes, funnily enough, just advertising the fact that they're on. Just because she's wanted me to do it. We haven't spoken since I've done [The Runaway] so I don't know how she feels about it at all."
Can you tell us about your character Danny Dixon?
"He's kind of avuncular, old school. I wouldn't even call him a gangster, to be quite honest. I think he's just a villain who's got respect. He's very much localised - he likes his area. He loves his family, looks after his old mum. I think circumstances conspire to make him blow up and lose it... and he gets out of his league, I think."
Do you enjoy playing 'bad guys'?
"I don't think he's a particularly bad guy. I think he's a bit naughty. He does do something which is quite horrible but then... I think he loses his temper. I don't think he premeditates the violence in a big way. He's not that bad, I don't think."
What's Danny's relationship with Jack O'Connell's character Eamonn like?
"I think it would have bloomed into a father-son relationship. I think quite possibly he's grooming him to take over from him. I think he may see a part of himself when he was young in Eamonn. I think Eamonn's probably more ambitious than Danny was. But yeah, I think he's the son he never had."
Does that change throughout the series?
"Oh yes! Oh yes, it does."
What did you make of the younger cast members like Jack?
"I'm trying to remember what it was like for me. For me it wasn't really like that. I guess older actors at the time thought exactly the same as I view younger actors now. Jack's very good. He's a really nice kid - I really liked him and I think he's a good actor. He's definitely one to watch. Very good, very confident, a very nice guy."
Did you give him any acting tips?
"None - none whatsoever. I'm keeping that all to myself! I need as much as I can get."
Did you have any influences when you played Dixon?
"None. I think I've met lots of people like Danny, precisely because he's not a big time gangster. I don't know many big time gangsters, but I know a lot of people a bit like Danny - or I used to until I moved to the country."
Do you see any of yourself in him?
"A little bit, I think. Certainly a little bit of how I used to be. Not too much though."
What makes The Runaway different from other crime dramas?
"Nothing! No, I think it's to do with Martina. Martina is a lot more interesting than just gangster caper stories. Her stories seem to be a lot more about the effect of the long footprint of time. It's about the effect that your actions can have and how they ripple out and how they reverberate around your world and other people's worlds. So there's a lot more character interest there than just plot. I think that's why it's pretty high standard."
How would you sell the show to someone?
"I'm in it! Anything that I'm in is brilliant, obviously."
You're going to be in Treasure Island as well - have you started filming that?
"I've finished! It was really good, it's an ensemble piece. I enjoyed it."
Martina Cole's The Runaway begins on Thursday at 9pm on Sky1.
Are you looking forward to The Runaway? Leave your comments below!