GRITTY new drama No Man's Land sees countless lives diverge in the midst of war-torn Syria. Danielle de Wolfe finds out more from actor James Purefoy.

Set in the midst of the Syrian civil war, gritty new drama No Man's Land sheds a light on the conflicts taking place in the Middle East.

A tangle of lives from across the globe that intertwine at the centre of a conflict zone, the eight-part series focuses on Frenchman Antoine Habert who mourns the death of his sister following a suicide bombing in the war-torn nation.

Except, all is not what it seems. As Habert catches sight of a woman he believes to be his sister in news footage of the conflict, the discovery triggers a rescue mission in which he ventures to the centre of the IS-ravaged country.

Directed by Oded Ruskin and starring James Krishna Floyd, Felix Moati, Melanie Thierry, and James Purefoy, the series sees countless lives diverge, as Islamic State sympathisers, volunteer militia and aid organisations cross paths with shadowy operatives.

Times and Star: Undated Handout photo of No Man s Land. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Purefoy. Picture credit should read:Copyright Copyright 2020 Haut Et Court TV / Spiro Films Ltd / Masha Productions Ltd / Arte France / Versus Production. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: ThisUndated Handout photo of No Man s Land. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ TV Purefoy. Picture credit should read:Copyright Copyright 2020 Haut Et Court TV / Spiro Films Ltd / Masha Productions Ltd / Arte France / Versus Production. All Rights Reserved. WARNING: This

Taking on the shape-shifting role of Stanley, a shadowy member of a humanitarian organisation, the role was one that Pennyworth and Rome actor Purefoy, 56, was able to play with and manipulate.

"So much of it is hidden and when you're playing characters that aren't telling the truth, the audience sort of knows you're lying," he declares with a smirk.

"One of the difficulties with it is if the audience knows you're lying and the character you're speaking to doesn't know you're lying, then the audience are constantly looking to see whether or not they would buy your lie if they were that other person.

"You play with the audience and the audience's expectation of you and of your character. It's fun toying with people like that."

No Man's Land is a dark and treacherous tale that reflects the realities of current conflicts. It's one that Purefoy enjoyed as much for its glints of hope as he did for its dramatically dark elements.

"Many of the strands of these stories are about people taking a step in [a] direction where they don't know where that road is going to end up - and what they're going to end up having to do in order to survive the choices that they've made," he explains.

"It's an interesting concept in terms of the little links of a chain that make people go down a path in their lives that they really didn't know they were going to go down until it's slightly too late."

The subject matter

"I think the scripts are really beautifully written and this is not a subject matter that I'd seen a great deal of - either in films or on television," remarks Purefoy.

"I think one of the things they were very interested in is not making it a piece about geo-politics but more a piece about individuals caught up in this conflict.

"It feels a lot like the Syrian civil war has slipped off our radar somewhat; it's still going on, it's still raging and it seemed like a good idea to be doing something about that and just shining a light on it again.

The mystery surrounding his character

"[Stanley] is incredibly enigmatic and he does appear to be in many different places simultaneously and his backstory, depending on who he's dealing with at any one time changes, all the time," notes Purefoy.

"His sexuality changes, where he's come from changes, so you never quite know who he is. And even when you think he's telling the truth you're still not quite sure if he's telling the truth.

"You get to play with expectations and it's interesting how... he's highly intelligent and super manipulative, in the sense that he puts whatever version of himself he thinks will go down best with the person he's talking to - which we all do to a certain degree.

"But yes, he's really not averse to telling absolute whoppers of lies in order to get what he wants. And it's not what he wants but what his paymaster wants...

"He is incredibly cryptic and we do find out - I think by the end of the show we understand who he is and where he's from and who he's working for"

The director

"It's something I'm very proud to be involved with because I think Oded, the director, our mad genius director that we have, who directed all eight episodes of it - which is very rare in television, for one director to do it.

"Normally, what happens is you have maybe two directors and so, while one director is filming, the other one is scouting locations and editing the one he's just been doing.

"But Oded was nothing like that, Oded was just out there every single day with incredible energy, style and empathy, being able to deliver the day's schedule every single day for months and months."

The intelligence research

"I just finished doing another show which is now on Amazon Prime about a CIA officer - a grizzled, cynical CIA field officer. So, that was sort of the first spy role that I'd played - and I'd only just finished doing that when I started doing this.

"There are many similarities; I was able to bring a great deal of research that I'd already done into playing a spy and what they have to do and the corrosive effect of being an intelligence officer has on your private life, what that means to you as you're doing it.

"The spies - and anybody in that world - they're always fascinating. Fifty shades of grey is really nothing in comparison to the espionage world, you know, it's a million shades of grey.

"Actually being an intelligence officer of any kind, there is always going to be a corrosive effect on your personality and your life and yet you continue to do it because it's a very addictive job to do."

No Man's Land premieres on November 22 on Starzplay.