Renowned actor David Tennant, 49, has played a variety of roles over his career – from saving the planet in the incredibly successful sci-fi thriller franchise Doctor Who, to moody detective Alec Hardy in ITV‘s intense murder mystery Broadchurch. Now, he’s on the other side of the law, as he slips into the shoes of notorious serial killer Dennis Nilsen.
Maybe that was one of the reasons why I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a story to tell’
The three-parter, which began last night, shines a light on the brutal murders of his victims; over a dozen homosexual, homeless and vulnerable men in his flat in North London between the 1970s and 1980s.
He kept their bodies for a length of time, often bathing, dressing and caressing them before dismembering the corpses and flushing body parts down the toilet or burning them on a bonfire.
He was arrested after neighbours complained about plumbing problems and the police found body parts and bones within the drains.
Ahead of the premiere of Des, in a recent interview, David touched on the fact he shares some facial characteristics with the killer.
David Tennant speaks out on ‘eerie’ resemblance to notorious London murderer Dennis Nilsen
David Tennant left fans shocked with how much he looked like Dennis Nilsen
Agreeing with the sentiment, he said: “Yes I know, it’s always the kind of thing that people would point out.
“Maybe that was one of the reasons why I thought, ‘Maybe there’s a story to tell’,” he told Radio Times.
And when ITV released the promo photos last week, fans were left shocked at Tennant’s new look.
Taking to social media, some shared their thoughts on the similarities of their appearance.
David Tennant was ‘glad’ Dennis Nilsen died before Des aired
David Tennant recognises he looks like the killer
“David looks identical!” one exclaimed.
Another added: “I can’t get over how much they look alike.”
“Actually looks like him,” a third noted.
Wow! David Tennant looks very alike the original! That’s spooky!” said a fourth.
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A fifth commented: “The similarities are eerie!”
While the mini-series explores the murders, arrest and trial of Nilsen, the actor revealed he was glad that the monstrous character he was portraying died before the series aired.
“When we started developing this he was still alive,” he said.
“I’m very relieved he’s not now, because I would hate for this to go out and for him to be in his cell imagining that we were in any way glorifying him.”
Nilsen died of cancer aged 72 behind bars and David wondered whether the idea to dramatize his crimes would leave him “smug”.
“I’m sure he would have complained about everything we said and everything we did, but at the same time would have been rather smugly pleased that he was on television,” the actor retorted.
David suggested Nilsen may have felt a sense of glory from the drama, but glorify him they did not as the Broadchurch actor revealed he would have felt differently about taking on the role.
“I might have had reservations if we were presenting it as some sort of gothic horror piece,” he admitted.
David’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.