The Serpent: Jenna Colman discusses learning French
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The Serpent follows serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who is believed to be responsible for over a dozen murders committed in 1970s Asia. The eight-part series has been captivating viewers since its launch in the new year when it was also dropped on BBC iPlayer as a boxset. The cast of The Serpent spoke to Express.co.uk and other press about their role in the series.
Who is in the cast of The Serpent?
Charles Sobhraj – Tahar Rahim
Tahar Rahim portrays serial killer Charles Sobhraj in The Serpent.
Also known as The Serpent and The Bikini Killer, Sobhraj is believed to have killed 10 travellers on the so-called “Hippie Trail” through Nepal, Thailand and India.
Rahim is best known for playing Ali Soufan in The Looming Tower.
His other credits include Mary Magdalene, Project, The Eddy, The Eagle, The Past and Black Gold.
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other press, Rahim said: “It’s a very complicated character to portray, it’s easier to get out of a character, sometimes than to get in.”
He explained: “I remember I struggled the two first weeks, it was hard for me to, to capture him to understand him.
“Because, how can you possibly be real, and in a way, truthful, when you have to portray those type of people.”
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Marie-Andrée Leclerc – Jenna Coleman
Jenna Coleman plays Marie-Andrée Leclerc, Sobhraj’s girlfriend and accomplice in The Serpent.
Coleman is best known for portraying Queen Victoria in ITV’s Victoria and Clara Oswald in Doctor Who.
She is also well known for her role as Joanna in The Cry.
Speaking to Express.co.uk and other press, Coleman reflected on the life of Leclerc and what it was like to play her.
She said: “I think what’s really interesting is, it’s almost like she created our own narrative. And she’s like living in her own delusion, really.
“So I guess, for me, it was more about squashing the truth. It was kind of like not accepting the reality of what was actually going on.
“And meanwhile, she’s kind of always living her own, like movie star life, in her mind. Which made it really kind of complicated, and in a great way, in a really great way that, you know, they kind of felt like in between all of the lines that Richard [Warlow] wrote, there was like, 1000 possibilities, which kind of always draws you in.
Herman Knippenberg – Billy Howle
Billy Howle portrays the real-life Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg working in Bangkok, who helped build a case against Sobhraj.
Howle is best known for his role as Caden in MotherFatherSon and as Edward Mayhew in On Chesil Beach.
His other credits include Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Outlaw King.
Howle spoke to the real Herman Knippenberg to help prepare for the role.
He told Express.co.uk: “I was slightly reluctant to speak to Herman straight away because I felt I needed to mine the script and really, you know, come to terms with the story, we were trying to tell it and do all the practical stuff, the research and have a better understanding of the landscape of the story, too.
“And then when I spoke to Herman, and it was incredibly enlightening, I mean, his not only the story but his perception of the story and the events that took place, are so far removed from my own experience in life, that it wasn’t immediately relatable.
“So there was a lot of groundwork that needed to be done.
“And I was very fortunate in being able to build that bond with Herman quite early on because he was able to fill in those gaps and increase my understanding of the situation.”
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Angela Knippenberg – Ellie Bamber
Ellie Bamber plays Angela Knippenberg, Herman Knippenberg’s multi-lingual wife.
Bamber most recently played Mandy Rice-Davies in The Trial of Christine Keeler, alongside Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ellie Bamber, Ben Miles, Visar Vishka, Emilia Fox, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett and Anthony Welsh.
She is also well known for playing Cosette in the BBC One adaption of Les Misérables.
Her other credits include Nocturnal Animals, The Musketeers and A Mother’s Son.
Like Howle, Bamber spoke to the real Angela Knippenberg to prepare for the role.
She explained: “She sent me all these pics of Herman together and then as Herman at work and her at work. So that was amazing to fill that in those like visual gaps, I suppose.
“He was able to tell me what it was like living in Thailand at that time. And then also, she talked more about Herman and her relationship.
“And, you know, she’s like a real strong character within the story, she really, really doesn’t lose her sense of self throughout. And she kind of has that strength to really try and temper Herman’s self-destructive obsession.”
Also in the cast of The Serpent on BBC One is:
- Amesh Edireweera as Ajay Chowdhury
- Fabien Frankel as Dominique Renelleau
- Mathilde Warnier as Nadine Gires
- Dasha Nekrasova as Connie Jo Bronzich
- Tim McInnerny as Siemons
The Serpent is streaming on the BBC iPlayer and Netflix now
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