In BBC America's London Spy, Ben Wishaw plays Danny, an ordinary man whose world is torn asunder when he learns that his enigmatic boyfriend, Alex (Edward Holcroft), has been murdered.
The five-episode journey to uncover the truth — Alex, it turns out, was an operative for MI6 — pulls him into a labyrinthine snarl of treachery both heartbreaking and fraught with danger.
"My note to myself was that Danny is in a series of situations where different elements of his personality might emerge at any time," Whishaw says. "As a character, I felt that he should be as complicated as I am."
Whishaw's ability to capture that complexity has made the British actor shine in a variety of roles, from a lovelorn suitor in The Danish Girl to Herman Melville in The Heart of the Sea and King Richard in BBC's The Hollow Crown. He's even given voice to Paddington Bear.
Though he's currently starring as John Proctor in the Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, most Americans likely know him as Q in the Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.
"After I'd shot London Spy, I went to do a Q&A session at MI6 before a screening of Spectre, and one thing I learned is that Q is not as much of a fantasy as you might think. There are people very much doing his job." Whishaw pauses. "I probably shouldn't say any more because I don't want that invitation to be taken away."
He shouldn't worry. It's unlikely anyone will turn away this emerging talent anytime soon.