AMC's 'The Night Manager' makes the case that Le Carre is more relevant than ever

John le Carre’s work may have aged, but it remains as relevant as ever.

This is the takeaway from Friday’s panel for upcoming AMC miniseries “The Night Manager” at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, captured best by executive producer Simon Cornwell who said, “The world has changed, the players have changed, the technology has changed, but the sad thing is that the moral questions, the ambiguity, is still very much there.”

Cornwell could be considered something of an expert in Le Carré’s work, given that he’s the legendary spy novelist’s son, but the sentiment is also echoed by fellow executive producer Stephen Garrett, who said, “Le Carré was way ahead of the game in terms of embracing moral ambiguity. He understood that good and bad were kind of banal.”

“The Night Manager” is an updated adaptation of Le Carré’s 1993 novel of the same name, the first television adaptation of the author’s work in over 20 years. The series features Tom Hiddleston as former British soldier Jonathan Pine who works to infiltrate the inner circle of criminal mastermind Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) and finds his own morality shaken in the process.

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Hiddleston revels in the paradoxical nature of the character, though, saying, “What I found fascinating about Pine in the novel and the adaptation is there’s a tension between a very calm exterior and a turbulent and chaotic interior. He has a lot of vulnerability and a lot of doubt.”

The duality was so central to the character, that it became a touchstone the actor could return to again and again, as encouraged by director Susanne Bier.

“Susanne always encouraged me to lean into the tension of his calm exterior while he’s on fire inside.”

Laurie had similar insight into his own character, though Roper appears to be anything but tranquil.

“In effect,” Laurie said, “he’s a psychotic. There’s a bit of a Colonel Kurtz aspect to him. He’s surrounded by people whose livelihood depend on him. That will always drive a person a bit psychotic.” Laurie quickly added, “As any studio head will attest.”

But it’s still that modern ambiguity that defines “The Night Manager” in the end, Hiddleston explained.

“We live now in an apparently transparent society. Everyone knows everything about everyone, yet there’s still so many secrets at the highest level. We’ll always be fascinated by what goes on behind the closed doors in the corridors of power.”

AMC will air the first of six episodes of “The Night Manager” at 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 19.

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libby.hill@latimes.com

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