*Warning: Contains spoilers for Happy Valley series three, episode six.*
Well, Happy Valley has finally come to an end after nine years and three series, with everyone’s favourite no-nonsense cop Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) getting the showdown she deserved with psychotic criminal Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).
After breaking into Catherine’s house and initially planning on setting it ablaze, the critically-injured Tommy made a U-turn on his plans – including killing Catherine – after seeing photos of his son Ryan (Rhys Connah) with his mum, Catherine’s daughter Becky, and realising he had been given a good life.
Instead, he has a revealing heart-to-heart/argument with Catherine, before dousing himself with petrol and setting himself on fire, later dying in hospital offscreen in news delivered to Catherine via text message.
However, after all of that, series star Norton has opened up on his time playing Tommy and shared his opinion that he doesn’t see him as a psychopath, but ‘just incredibly damaged’.
As the episode wrapped up, Norton took to social media to share a smiling photo with his esteemed co-star Lancashire, marking the end of the road for them both in the popular TV series.
In the new interview, he then opened up on his deep feelings for the character, explaining how ‘heartbreaking’ the finale had been.
‘I have been with him for ten years, I feel deeply sorry for him. I feel immense pity and empathy and I sort of really love him,’ the 37-year-old shared.
Discussing the ‘constant question’ over whether or not Tommy is a psychopath, Norton added to GQ: ‘My final conclusion on Tommy is that I don’t think he is a psychopath, he’s just incredibly damaged. The fact that he can find this incredible love for Ryan over the last seven years, that is what drives him, and all of this plan to go to Marbella.’
The actor reasons that Tommy could have gone on his own but he had ‘this fairytale dream of having a house, a job, and living together as father and son’.
Norton also said that the more they went through the series the more he felt ‘able to tap into [Tommy’s] humanity’.
The Grantchester and War & Peace actor also pointed to earlier suggestions that his character was not a psychopath, revealing he had discussed it with people involved with the production, as well as his co-star Lancashire and the show’s writer, Sally Wainwright.
‘The hints were almost laid in the very first series, in episode five, when he’s just been stabbed and he’s facing his own mortality, his own death.
‘And he’s sitting in that high rise and he bursts into tears. He thinks, “S**t, I’ve wasted my life and if I had a different childhood maybe I could have been something in me.” And if you think back to there, that was where Sally was already planning and carving out this ending I think, because there is humanity there.’
Viewers were full of praise for the conclusion of the hugely popular TV drama, with praise labelling it ‘a masterpiece’ and ‘Shakespearean’, as well as predicting award wins for the series and its actors.
Happy Valley is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.
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