In Troppo‘s eerie murder mystery tale, premiering May 20 on Amazon Freevee (the new name for IMDb TV), troubled former detective Ted Conkaffey (Thomas Jane) finds an unlikely friend in Amanda Pharell (Nicole Chamoun) as the two investigate a series of deaths in a remote town in Queensland, Australia. Based on the novel Crimson Lake written by Candice Fox, Troppo season 1 explores Amanda’s dark past involving a killing by her own hands, while shining a light on Ted’s history as an outsider.
Thomas Jane is best known for playing Detective Joe Miller in The Expanse seasons 1 through 4 before returning to the show in season 5 as a director. Jane has also played Marvel’s The Punisher, aka Frank Castle, in 2004’s The Punisher. Chamoun’s most notable appearance came in the 2018 psychological thriller mini-series Safe Harbour.
Screen Rant interviewed Jane and Chamoun about their approach to portraying their fascinating characters in Troppo and what they believe connects them in the end.
Screen Rant: Thomas, this isn’t your first time playing a disgraced former detective. Not too long ago, you played Joe Miller in The Expanse. From your experiences portraying Miller and Ted Conkaffey in Troppo — both of whom were based on book characters — what similarities and differences did you find between the two?
Thomas Jane: That’s a good question. As an actor you’re thinking, “OK, what does my character do?” He’s a detective. So, what do detectives do? Well, they’re looking for the truth. Seek the truth. And if you’re good at it, you dedicate yourself to uncovering the truth about any number of different situations.
I think one thing they had in common was that the murder mystery is one set of truths that you’re investigating, trying to find, uncover, and then there’s another set of mysteries that are more internal. The secrets that we keep from ourselves. It can get to where you’re not really sure, but you know there’s something. So, that journey — both inward and outward — is what was fascinating to me about both of those characters.
Like Ted, Amanda also has somewhat of a troubled past. Nicole, can you describe your approach to playing a character who carries so much baggage and has so many layers?
Nicole Chamoun: I guess I approached it from — it depends on where I am personally in my life as to where I go to. There are some characters I’ve played that are so unlike me or have experienced things unlike me that I have to find it, whereas I was able to draw on some personal stuff. I had never killed anyone, but just some personal stuff that lent itself to this character.
Thomas Jane: You wouldn’t know it by looking at you.
Nicole Chamoun: [Laughs] Maybe that’s the plan! But yeah, it was fun. Sometimes the most dark, complex characters are the most fun, where you find the most light in yourself because you get to just kind of pull all that trauma into the character and let some of it go for yourself, So yeah, it was a gift.Advertisement
The relationship between Ted and Amanda starts off as a very complicated and unlikely one. In both of your opinions, what is it about these characters that binds them?
Thomas Jane: I can answer that very simply. These two have literally nothing in common. They’re the most opposites of two human beings that you can get. No reason for them to ever interact, except for one. They both had their lives shattered by trauma. That is not something you meet every day. So, at the end of the day, they’re really the only two people that actually understand each other because of the very different experiences, but the result was a life that was stolen from them, shattered. And that really is the heart of the show and what makes it interesting to me, to want to tell that story.Advertisement
Nicole Chamoun: I agree. What connects them is trauma. I mean they’re both broken. I don’t think it’s even concious ’cause they are very different and don’t want anything to do with each other. I think she approaches Ted at the beginning ’cause she’s a hustler and she sees something he has that she could use. As it plays out, they are deeply connected and it is that thing. If you haven’t been through trauma, you can’t understand it. That can be really lonely and isolating. I think they need each other, whether they want each other or not. I think that translates well on camera.
Amanda Pharrell, an eccentric private investigator with a disturbing criminal past, recruits disgraced ex-cop Ted Conkaffey, to help her solve her first real case: the disappearance of a Korean family man and tech pioneer.
All 8 episodes of Troppo premiere May 20 on Amazon Freevee.
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