Paramount+’s crime drama series ‘Sexy Beast’ revolves around Gal Dove and Don Logan, two best friends and local robbers. Their life takes a turn when they sign up with crime lord Teddy Bass to rob a series of things that belong to Sir Stephen Eaton. The first three episodes of the series open a large window into the intricacies of Gal and Don’s lives, depicting their nuances as robbers. While Don needs a reminder to be careful, Gal is the one who protects his “business” partner and friend. Gal and Don are not based on real robbers. The genesis of these two characters can be traced back to Jonathan Glazer’s feature directorial debut of the same name, released in 2000!
The Inspiration Behind Gal and Don
Gal and Don are characters conceived by Louis Mellis and David Scinto for Jonathan Glazer’s 2000 film ‘Sexy Beast.’ The Paramount+ show is a prequel to the British crime movie. In the film, Gal is a “retired” robber who spends his life peacefully in Spain with his wife DeeDee, friend Aitch, and the latter’s wife Jackie. Out of nowhere, Don shows up in front of the group to enlist Gal in a heist he has been planning for Teddy Bass. The inspiration behind the creation of the two characters was a series of passing thoughts.
“David and I locked ourselves away for three weeks and wrote ‘Sexy Beast.’ The initial idea was, how possible is it for someone to ‘split the program,’ to escape from the past and create an idyll in Spain? What are the human logistics?” Mellis told Vice. Although Gal and Don are fictional, the crisis the former faces in the film must be relatable for many who have gotten involved in the world of crime. There are several examples of the “sins of the past” catching up with someone who has committed an awful lot of crimes. Gal’s failure to spend his retirement peacefully can be paralleled with this reality.
Mellis and David created the characters without any exposure to real-life criminals. “The gangster thing wasn’t researched, or from speaking to cockney hardmen. We just got in a room and made ourselves laugh,” Mellis told The Guardian. However, he found them interesting enough to write not one but several movies about them, mainly ‘Gangster No. 1’ and ‘44 Inch Chest.’ “Can’t say I fraternize with gangsters [or would want to]. Interestingly, amongst the criminal fraternity of thieves, pickpockets, con men, etc., gangsters have always been looked down on as the lowest of the low: unskilled, no-class, gaining only through violence, and lacking expertise,” the screenwriter added to Vice.
Gal and Don resemble several London mobsters and felons who dreamed big despite their economically poor backgrounds. Stephen Moyer, who plays Teddy in the show, parallels the characters in the series with Robin Hood. “[The fascination with London mobsters] goes back to that Robin Hood mentality – we all have a desire for the little guy to beat the system,” Moyer told The Telegraph. In the series, the two best friends are trying to beat the system that was built by not only Sir Stephen Eaton but also Teddy.
James McArdle and Emun Elliott, who play Gal and Don in the series respectively, were able to relate to their characters personally. “I can relate to what it feels like to feel humiliated, scared, insecure but I have a different way of dealing with those emotions. […] I can understand why he lashes out because he’s a character that suffered abuse as a child and he’s learned that the way to deal with intimidation or fear is violence. Which I do not condone of course,” Elliott told The Scotsman. For McArdle, “like putting pressure on himself to look after people or succeed. That’s definitely something I could see in myself and I understood how that led to his flaws and his vulnerability.”