Peter Capaldi Was Attracted to the Scars of his ‘Criminal Record’ Character

[Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for Criminal Record.]

The Big Picture

  • Peter Capaldi’s wife came up with the idea for ‘Criminal Record,’ a crime show focused on confessions and retracting them.
  • The character Capaldi plays, DCI Daniel Hegarty, has deep complexities and scars that shape his actions.
  • The father-daughter relationship in the show is tragic, with the father trying to protect his daughter despite his own flaws.

The eight-episode Apple TV+ London crime thriller Criminal Record pits Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty (Peter Capaldi) against Detective Sergeant June Lenker (Cush Jumbo) while shining a spotlight on issues of race, rank and gender. What starts as a disagreement over an old murder case evolves into a clash between two individuals equal in their convictions when Hegarty can’t get June to back down. Throughout the season, the tension between the two detectives builds to a boiling point as Hegarty realizes that June is just not going to let up until she unravels the truth, no matter who or what is left in its wake.

There’s something truly exciting about watching the battle of wits between Capaldi and Jumbo and the push-and-pull with their characters. While the exploration of crime is a compelling journey to take, it is all the smaller paths the co-stars take on their way there that makes it worthwhile to follow to its conclusion.

During this interview with Crumpa, Capaldi, who was an executive producer on the series with his wife, Elaine Collins, talked about how the series was built specifically for Capaldi and Jumbo, exploring complex characters that reveal themselves gradually, and the tragic father-daughter relationship. He also talked about a particularly nerve-wracking experience he had during the table read for Dangerous Liaisons, why people should check out his first film Local Hero, and his experience directing the pilot for They F**k You Up.

Criminal Record

Follows two brilliant detectives in a tug of war over a historic murder conviction, dealing with issues of race, institutional failure, and the quest to find common ground in a polarized Britain.

Release Date
January 10, 2024

Paul Rutman
Peter Capaldi , Cush Jumbo , Shaun Dooley , Charlie Creed-Miles , Aysha Kala


Peter Capaldi’s Wife Worked to Get ‘Criminal Record’ Developed Into a TV Series

Peter Capaldi as Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty in Episode 6 of Criminal Record
Image via Apple TV+

Crumpa: I read that it was your wife, Elaine Collins, that was looking for a show to develop for you and Cush Jumbo. Did you guys have conversations about the type of thing you might want to do together? Is this series everything that you were looking for, or are you surprised that this is what it ultimately ended up being?

CAPALDI: I’m surprised, although I’ve followed it all the way through. We have a show here called Vera, that’s a crime show that’s very successful, and a show called Shetland, which is very successful, and she was looking for another show, but she wanted to build it herself. She was interested in the area of confessions, and why people confess and then retract those confessions, which is quite a fascinating thing. She was building that with Paul Rutman, the writer who she worked with who is a wonderful writer, and she knew there was going to be two detectives in it. It seemed right, since she was looking for something for Cush and I, so she suggested it to us, and we said, “Yeah, that would be great.” At the start, even before they wrote the scripts, they had a vague idea of the direction it would take.


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When we meet your character, he seems like this veteran cop who’s all about the job, and then these threads all start to unravel. As an EP on this and with this being written for you guys, did you know about all those layers to him from the beginning? Were those things that you had all talked about before it was written or did some of that come up along the way?

CAPALDI: It really came from Paul, the writer, and Elaine. They wanted to make complex characters who were still evolving or that would reveal themselves gradually. I was involved in some discussions, but it was more in response to material that they’d come up with and ideas they had already, which I thought were fascinating. I love the idea that this was someone who had these scars, and to be the way he was, there was a cost to that. He’s also struggling with his own inability to parent properly and his own failure to be able to hold a family together. Although we don’t really go into that, those are the elements that are very attractive to an actor because they give the character a color and a spirit. Even though he was such a veiled character who didn’t reveal much about himself, I still had to have a sense of what was going on inside, and they provided that, which was great.

Peter Capaladi Enjoyed Exploring the Complex Father-Daughter Relationship in ‘Criminal Record’

Peter Capaldi as Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty in Episode 2 of Criminal Record
Image via Apple TV+

What was it like to explore this father-daughter relationship? How did you view the dynamic of this father who clearly loves his daughter, but is also perpetuating a toxic relationship by helping her?

CAPALDI: I thought it was compelling and tragic. His relationship with his daughter is complex. There’s a lot of guilt involved in it, but there’s also knowledge. He’s really smart and experienced. He knows the way the world works. He knows the way his world works. He knows the way London works. He’s a creature of the city. He’s a creature of the streets. He wants to protect his daughter because he knows the dangers that are there. What was really fascinating for me was trying to have this inner life without revealing it to the audience.

There are so many levels at play with a story like this. It’s generational, it’s about rank, it’s about race, it’s about different genders. All these things are really clashing with each other throughout the whole season. Was this always intended to be an antagonistic relationship? Was that the dynamic you wanted to explore with this?

CAPALDI: That was exactly what they wanted to do. There was never any intention to make them two cop buddies that would start off bickering with each other, and then become buddies and share gags and stuff like that. It’s two people who are on very different paths, and yet they are magnetized, drawn together, and fated to be brought together by either the pursuit of the truth or the covering up of the truth. That’s where the key drama lay in their antagonism. And Cush was amazing. She did it brilliantly. We never rehearsed anything because I just wanted to be surprised by what happened. Because she’s so good, I knew she would just do unusual things and things that I wouldn’t expect, and vice versa. Those scenes that we did together, I looked forward to those.

Peter Capaldi Had an Unexpected Table Read His First Day on ‘Dangerous Liaisons’

Peter Capaldi as Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty in Episode 3 of Criminal Record
Image via Apple TV+

Out of all the things that you’ve done in your career, what was the most nervous you’ve been before stepping on set the first day?

CAPALDI: That’s hard to say. I played a part in Dangerous Liaisons, which was a film that starred Michelle Pfeiffer, John Malkovich, Glenn Close, Uma Thurman and Keanu Reeves. We had to do the read-through, where we sat around a table and read the script. I played the part of Azolan, who was John Malkovich’s servant, so I was with John most of the time. But on the day of the read-through the director said to me, “I’m afraid Glenn Close can’t make it, so you will be reading Glenn Close’s part.” So, I had to read the part of Merteuil, who’s this fabulous, dark character in Dangerous Liaisons, which is a wonderful film. I’m not saying that because I was in it. So, I was really nervous about that, but they were all amazing. They were all so sweet to me. I was young and fresh-faced. The reason I connected to this was because John Malkovich’s character, who was very dark, had a line where he said, “I have no illusions, I lost them on my travels.” I had that written down somewhere and I thought, “That’s [DCI Daniel Hegarty], as well.” I would look at that occasionally to get myself in the zone. So, that was pretty nerve-wracking. And when you do Doctor Who, the first time you step out of the TARDIS is pretty nerve-wracking because everybody’s looking at you going, “Who’s this Doctor? Is he gonna be good, bad, or indifferent?” That’s pretty nerve-wracking. That was pretty scary.


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Is it a bit nerve-wracking anytime you play someone new, until you get a real sense of who they are?

CAPALDI: The truth is, even at this age, every first day is nerve-wracking. I still get knots in my stomach. I’m still scared. You get used to the mechanics of knowing what cameras do and what lights do, but whether or not you can deliver this thing that they’re paying you and have the faith in you to do this part, whether you can do that or not, I’m still not sure I can. That always makes me nervous, but I think that’s okay. I’d rather be nervous than cocky about it.

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Peter Capaldi as Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty in Episode 8 of Criminal Record
Image via Apple TV+

If someone has never seen anything that you’ve done, what should they watch first and why?

CAPALDI: There’s a film called Local Hero, which was the first I ever did, in 1982, with Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert. That’s a very whimsical, sweet film about Scotland and America. I was 23. You’ll see what the business does to someone when you watch that, and then you see Criminal Record. You can see what happens. In the Loop, which we did with the wonderful James Gandolfini, was good fun. That’s good to watch. I did that character, Malcolm Tucker, on a TV show, called The Thick of It. He’s a political advisor and spin doctor. He’s quite aggressive and swears a lot. It’s quite out there. He’s the opposite to Hegarty, really.

You directed the pilot for They F**k You Up. What made you want to put your director’s hat on for that?

CAPALDI: It was just a good story. It was an unusual thing, in that it was a story about adoption and you don’t really see very much about adoption on TV. It was realistic and written from someone’s own experience. And I thought it would be fun to do it. Also, my wife was producing it, as well. It was nice. The only thing is, they never picked it up. It was only half an hour, so you can do it very quickly. I hadn’t directed for a while, so it was nice to put my toe back in that water on the show. On this show, my role as an executive producer was a real one, so that demanded a lot of my time, and it was a quite stimulating and interesting to be that involved in the mechanics of producing this show. I think I got a bit of a taste for it again. The trouble with directing is that it takes so much time. You’ve gotta take a year of your life to do that. When you’re an actor, you can be in and out much more quickly. And also, if you’re an actor, people are always asking you if you want a cup of coffee and somewhere nice and warm to sit. When you’re a director, they don’t care. When you’re an executive producer, they really don’t care. It was very funny on this because some days I would come to work as an actor and people were very courteous to me and made sure that I was okay. I had a trailer and all that stuff, and I was looked after. On another day, I would come as an executive producer, I thought they looked really not pleased to see me and avoided me and I didn’t have anywhere to sit, or anything like that.


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What inspires you to take on extra titles for certain projects?

CAPALDI: I think it’s the material. The titles and jobs are jobs that have to be done, but you want to be part of a creative community and part of a creative team. You want to make this particular project and sometimes your skills are better suited to being the director of that project. There might be something that I want to direct, that there is no part for me in it. With They F**k You Up, it was mostly women. There was one man’s part in it. There weren’t any for me to do in that, but it was really interesting for me to work with all the actors who were there and work on that story. You’re just attracted by the material and trying to bring that to the screen. The great thing when you’re acting is that you can just give yourself, one hundred percent, to that one thing and that’s all you have to worry about. But if you take on any of these other roles, each of those roles are demands where you worry about one thousand things at the same time, which is quite hard. But sometimes you’re better suited to that.

And then, sometimes you go off and you write music and you give us an album.

CAPALDI: It’s all for fun.

Criminal Record is available to stream on Apple TV+. Check out a clip of the series:

Watch on Apple TV+

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