Tom Moutchi felt responsibility in playing 'Criminal Record' prison inmate

Tom Moutchi can now be seen in the British drama, "Criminal Record." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
Tom Moutchi can now be seen in the British drama, "Criminal Record." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
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NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Tom Moutchi describes Errol Mathis, the possibly wrongly convicted murderer he plays in the British drama, Criminal Record, as "emotionally constipated" because he is stuck in a position in which he cannot move forward in his life.

"All the eight episodes are basically his laxative," Moutchi told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"Growing up in South London, I was already in his head," the actor said of how he connected to his character. "I know what that world looks like. I have friends who have been in similar situations and you see how it affects their families. I felt like that gave me all the reference that I needed."

Wrapping up its first season Wednesday on Apple TV+, the series started when an anonymous phone call draws two brilliant detectives -- Peter Capaldi's Daniel Hegarty, a White man nearing the end of his career, and Cush Jumbo's June Lenker, a young Black woman -- into a confrontation over an old murder case involving Errol, a Black man, that doesn't hold up upon re-inspection.

"It had a great cast and the script is beautifully written. It is a traditional crime-police drama," Moutchi said.

Peter Capaldi (L) and Tom Moutchi's "Criminal Record" wraps up its first season on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
Peter Capaldi (L) and Tom Moutchi's "Criminal Record" wraps up its first season on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

"I love that medium of storytelling and I really get to showcase range because the character has so many layers and so much to give on screen."

Cathy Tyson plays Doris Mathis, Errol's mother and tireless advocate.

Scottish actor Peter Capaldi attends the world premiere of "World War Z" at The Empire Leicester Square in London in June 2013. File Photo by Paul Treadway/UPI
Scottish actor Peter Capaldi attends the world premiere of "World War Z" at The Empire Leicester Square in London in June 2013. File Photo by Paul Treadway/UPI

Their relationship is fraught because she believes he is innocent and keeps fighting for his release, but the constant cycle of hope and disappointment she perpetuates is wearing on her son who can do little to help himself.

Having eight hours of television as opposed to two hours for a movie to explore a character was a satisfying experience for the actor.

Cush Jumbo attends the Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in January 2018. File Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA-EFE
Cush Jumbo attends the Critics' Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., in January 2018. File Photo by Andrew Gombert/EPA-EFE

"It's amazing. You really get to stay with him. You really get to be one with him," said Moutchi, who previously starred in the sketch-comedy show, Famalam, for four years, playing about 50 different characters.

"I wasn't even allowed to grow a beard [in real life]," he laughed, referring to how he always had to be ready to look like different people for the show before taking on the long-form project of Criminal Record.

"To be able to be one person through his whole journey -- and then there are flashbacks where you get to be an earlier version of yourself -- was really fun to play with.

"But there is also a sense of duty because to portray this character, you are playing a lot of people's situation in life, a lot of people's reality," he added. "I am very much aware that I am a necessary thread in this tapestry that is Criminal Record."

The chance to work with Capaldi was another reason Moutchi took the job.

"I felt like I knew Peter before I met him because I am a Doctor Who fan," he said.

"I don't think he knows how much. You have to come in saying: 'Yes, I am a fan of you, but, I am also a cast member. But, oh my days, this Is the Time Lord!' It was a joy to see how he thinks and how childlike he can still be, as seasoned and legendary as he is."

He called Jumbo "electrifying" to share scenes with.

"I was truly, truly blessed," said Moutchi, who will also soon be seen in a supporting role in Gladiator 2.