The Nest has Martin Compston unleashed in riveting new thriller

The Nest on Acorn TV. Sophie Rundle as Emily, Mirren Mack as Kaya and Martin Compston © Studio Lambert and all3media international
The Nest on Acorn TV. Sophie Rundle as Emily, Mirren Mack as Kaya and Martin Compston © Studio Lambert and all3media international /
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The Nest
The Nest on Acorn TV. Martin Compston as Dan and Sophie Rundle as Emily © Studio Lambert and all3media international /

Martin Compston previews his intense new series The Nest.

You haven’t seen Martin Compston like you’re about to see him in The Nest.

Compston earned his badass credentials with his starring role as Detective Sergeant Steve Arnott in the smash hit Line of Duty, and TV crime drama fans probably still have nightmares about his portrayal of serial killer Peter Manuel from In Plain Sight. He’s already established himself as an actor who can push the envelope.

But in The Nest, he gets to reveal another part of his incredible range. Playing Dan Docherty, an incredibly successful businessman whose life is upended when he and his wife agree to let a total stranger be their surrogate, Compston delivers his most emotional performance to date, develops a new kind of antihero, and proves why he’s one of the top actors on British TV today.

Precinct TV caught up with Martin Compston ahead of The Nest‘s U.S. premiere on Acorn TV to find out how he made Dan so compelling, if any of his Line of Duty skills came to bear—and what originally drew him into the series that mixes relationship drama with crime drama.

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For him, the journey started at the very beginning, with writer Nicole Taylor.

“I’ve been a huge fan of her writing for a long time. Wild Rose and Three Girls—she’s an outstanding talent,” Compston told us. “But we’ve spoken about working with each other for a long time.

“It’s one of those things—those industry events and award ceremonies, there’s a lot of small talk, and there’s a lot of empty promises…The only time it actually came through was with Nicole,” he recalled. “I met her, we had a beer, and she said I’m writing a script and I’ve got a character who I’m writing with you in mind. Would you be interested? And I went as usual, yeah, yes. Sure. Lo and behold like five, six months later, the email drops in my inbox, and that was The Nest.

“I was chuffed, absolutely delighted. And I think that Nicole had watched a lot of my work, so when she wrote the character, obviously it’s not me, but in terms of the attitude, of the essence of it, I just knew him immediately,” he continued. “I kind of instinctively knew which way I was going to play more scenes right away. I didn’t even really feel like I had to learn the lines, because it was just so well written. It’s the first time in a long time as an actor I felt like I could really let fly. I could just really go for it. So that was really exciting.”

Taylor’s attention to detail—and Compston’s ability to break loose—is evident early on in The Nest. Dan seems to have it all, and everything is in its place: he’s happily married to Emily (the equally fantastic Sophie Rundle), a massive business development has just fallen into place, and their house would make Tony Stark jealous. On paper, he’s potentially the most boring and unsympathetic character.

But it becomes clear, in the way Compston carries himself and how his attitude changes from scene to scene, that Dan isn’t perfect…and that puts him on edge. There’s something inside him boiling up, and heaven help everyone when it breaks out.

“I really liked playing the contradictions in him,” Compston explained of taking Dan beyond those initial assumptions. “He’s very arrogant and very ruthless in his business life, but he’s a very loving husband. He would do anything for his wife, but he’s incredibly ambitious.

“And I think that’s why there’s a sort of a mutual respect, and a very real fear, with Dan and [their surrogate] Kaya, because they’re from the same background, they’re from the same sort of area. They both know what each other is possibly capable of. And once they get hold of something, they’re not going to let go.

“Dan isn’t letting go of his business, and I think that he feels that if Kaya gets her foot in the door, then she’s going nowhere,” he concluded. “So you have this battle of wills going on. He can be very unlikable, but that’s fun to play.”