Meeting with Nicholas Pinnock, the star of “For Life”, a new legal series produced by 50 Cent which begins this evening on TF1. He plays Aaron Wallace, a prisoner like no other, who is also a lawyer from his cell!
Already broadcast at the beginning of the year on Série Club, the For Life series arrives tonight at 10:50 pm on TF1, just after the launch of Lincoln: In pursuit of the Bone Collector. Produced by 50 Cent, this forensic drama worn by Nicholas Pinnock tells the daily life of Aaron Wallace, a man wrongly accused of drug trafficking and sent to life imprisonment in New York State, who became a lawyer from his cell .
Over the course of the episodes, Aaron uses his new skills to help his fellow inmates, but also to prove his innocence. But in his quest for freedom, motivated by his desperate desire to reunite with his family and recover the life that was taken from him, he will come up against the limits of the criminal justice system and the team of prosecutor Maskins, who have him. sent behind bars.
On the occasion of the arrival of For Life in France, Nicholas Pinnock told us about this judicial series quite far from the models of the genre, which is inspired by a true story.
AlloCiné: What was your first reaction to reading the pilot of For Life, a legal series like no other? Was it an instant crush?
Nicholas pinnock : I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight but I loved the script. To be honest, I was at a point in my career where I expected specific things and I was not sure that For Life was THE project. But after talking at length with the creators of the show, I had no doubts that I wanted to do it.
You are British and this is your first major role in the United States. Do you know how ABC thought of you?
They contacted me a few years ago because they wanted to work with me after spotting me in Marcella, but we didn’t find the right project straight away. I refused a few before accepting For Life.
What makes her different in this genre that we know so well on television?
It is not only a judicial series and that is what makes its strength. It is a mix between the judicial, the family and the prison. There are cases to defend in each episode but they are all linked to the story of the hero, this lawyer who defends both these innocent people put in prison and who defends himself from his cell.
It’s a pretty dark series, aired on the big American channel ABC but which almost looks like a cable or streaming series. Are there any limits that have been imposed?
ABC presented the project to me by telling me that they wanted to do a cable series but for a network. I found the idea appealing. They wanted to go further than normal, to go beyond certain borders, while keeping efficiency and the idea of popular entertainment. I don’t think we can tell this story other than going to explore darker things so we’re really halfway there and with few constraints.
For Life is based on a true story. Until what point ?
I would rather use the term “inspired by a true story” because we mostly kept the original idea to better move away from it later. Isaac Wright Jr, the real Aaron, is the producer of the series and gave us a lot of freedom to tell his story differently. Creator Hank Steinberg and his team did an admirable job from that point of view, keeping heaps of elements out of his life and stretching or transforming others. It is a bit of a game then to know what is totally true and what is less or not at all. As for the cases treated, there is everything: imaginary stories and other real ones.
Did you meet Isaac Wright Jr. to prepare for the role?
Yes, it is one of the most important meetings of my life! He is fascinating and you only need to talk to him for a few minutes to understand how he was able to accomplish such an exceptional destiny. He’s brilliant, he has a unique energy, personality and depth. We’re good friends now!
Did he give you any advice on how to play him?
He left me completely free in my interpretation but I was inspired by what I saw and understood of him to embody him. For example, despite all the time he spent in prison, he always knew how to keep the same strength and he considered that he just did not have time to be angry. During all those years, he had only one goal: to prove his innocence and to find his family. And he put his emotions in the background. This is also what I have to play. Someone very strong in appearance.
Would you say he is mostly a father, even before being a lawyer or a prisoner?
Yes quite. When he arrives in prison, his daughter is 9 years old and he sees it very badly. He tries to be a father anyway, even though he can’t pick her up from school, help her with her homework, say goodnight to her before bed. He takes great advantage of the rare moments he can spend with her and with his wife too and he tries to fulfill his role of father and husband from his cell. He has a well hidden phone, that helps him a bit!
You could say he’s a positive, benevolent character, but he’s a bit more complex than that in reality …
No one is perfect, we all have our flaws, our complexities, we all have many different sides: Aaron is like you and me. There is humanity in all of us and even the worst bastards can pick a flower and give it to you. Aaron is not a bastard, but he’s complicated, deep, he has a very dark side. There are 6 different Aarons in the show and they don’t all act the same: there is the Aaron from the flashbacks before the prison, there is the Aaron prisoner in his cell, the Aaron with his companions in misfortune. , the Aaron father and husband, the Aaron with the prison staff and the Aaron lawyer. I approach them and play them all differently. His posture, in particular, may vary.
You worked on the physicality of the character, by the way …
I had an idea of what his allure might look like and I chatted with quite a few people to work on it. It’s not just working on the way he moves, I just didn’t want to make it look like he had the weight in the world on his shoulders, although that was an important given. I wanted him to be also physically ready to react to any situation. He never has his hands in his pockets, for example. He stands very straight, which was not complicated for me as I did both darts and ballet. But I still have to get a massage every week to relax my muscles, realign my body and find myself. His tone of voice is also changing. I’ve read articles that explain that certain traumas can have an effect on your voice, too. I was inspired by that.
What does playing Aaron teach you in your own life?
To believe in yourself and in your dreams, not to be afraid to be ambitious, to fight relentlessly to get there.
Did the “Black Lives Matter” movement have an impact on the series?
A series on social justice and discrimination against blacks has always resonated strongly in the United States and elsewhere since racism has been around for centuries. Recent events have shed even more light on what already exists. And I am happy that we can be a small element in this great debate today, to show in our own way and at our level how we can change things with more humanity.
Would you say For Life is a political series?
It is even totally so in the sense that politics creeps into the judicial, family or prison dimension. She talks about what it’s like to be black in America, she shows it to as many people as possible, she can create greater understanding and empathy and so in that she is political and important, I believe.
50 Cent, who is producing the series, is he involved in the writing as well?
He is a producer, he gives his opinion regularly, sometimes not at all, but it is thanks to him that the series exists since he found this story and set up this project and fought for it to see the light of day. . He keeps asking me if I need anything. He is very attentive. He also plays a role in several episodes, so it was a joy to have him with us on the set.
The For Life trailer, which begins tonight at 10:50 p.m. on TF1: