John Simm was always the top
choice to play the central role of Rodya Raskolnikov. Producer David Snodin
explains "He is intelligent and sexy, but not in a conventional way. He
can combine charm with arrogance and that is essential for Raskolnikov."
This has to be the man you want desperately to get away with murder.
As he filmed the drama John had more than just a complex character to
deal with. He had a throat infection
and broken ribs, but insists that it only added to his performance. "I
broke my ribs on the third day of filming. I was mentally, physically
and emotionally exhausted - and the constant light can drive you mad.
But in a twisted kind of way, it all helped me to understand Raskolnikov
and why he behaves in the way that he does."
Filming Crime and Punishment
in St Petersburg made a real difference to John’s performance. "The
hard job for me is to make the viewer understand why Raskolnikov kills.
But that is helped by seeing the place that he has to live in, it was
absolutely disgusting. He is a very intelligent guy, who is slowly driven
to madness by the things he sees around him."
There was a lot of pressure on John to do a good job. Raskolnikov is one
of Russia’s most treasured literary characters. However John believes
the story is relevant to everyone. "It’s a really good adventure
story - a complex, dark thriller. We all know Dickens and they are very
similar in the way their writing is rooted in people and places and with
touches of comedy."
The pressure didn’t come off when John finished filming. A week
after he finished, John’s wife Kate gave birth to their new baby
son. "My biggest worry was that the filming would overrun and I would
have to turn up at the hospital as Raskolnikov. But at the moment I’m
turning down work - I just don’t want to miss any of those early
Tuesday 12 February and Wednesday 13 February, 9.00pm, BBC
Rodya Raskolnikov is literature’s
sexiest murderer. He commits a merciless, unprovoked murder. Yet he remains
an icon. This extraordinary story is set amongst the unrelenting glare
of the notorious, mid-summer ‘white nights’ in St Petersburg,
where dawn chases dusk almost without a break. Lack of sleep, poverty,
illness and despair combine in a heady and lethal brew.
John Simm, who came to fame in The
Lakes, plays Raskolnikov. As he explains, it was no easy task, "I broke
my rib on the third day of filming. I was on painkillers and mentally,
physically and emotionally exhausted - and the constant light can drive
you mad. You don’t know what time it is - it can be broad daylight
at midnight. I was dead on my feet. But, in a twisted kind of a way, it
The novel is held in extraordinarily
high regard in Russia, which meant the team knew they had to do a good
job. Raskolnikov is a hero to the Russian youth who look to this egotistical
anti-hero as an icon for their own feelings of alienation. John believes
that Raskolnikov could be as popular here, "It is a really good adventure
story - a complex dark thriller. It’s not just about 19th century
St Petersburg. Like Shakespeare, it’s relevant to everyone.
Rodya Raskolnikov is starving, lonely, feverish and enraged. He decides
to test his courage and integrity by killing and robbing a mean old pawnbroker
he is certain nobody will miss. But it all begins to go wrong when her
sister walks in and he is forced to kill her too. His guilt forces him
to behave strangely and he starts to arouse the suspicions of a wily investigator.
& articles © BBC