Last Kings of the Cross the ”sexiest history lesson you can have” says actors

”This show is the sexiest history lesson you can have and it gives the people from that generation a chance to relive it and people from later generations a chance to experience it.”

With plenty of sex and violence, Last Kings of the Cross is sure to leave audiences on the edge of their seats.

The Paramount+ original is a fictionalised version of nightclub mogul John Ibrahim‘s bestselling autobiography of the same name, and tells the story of his rise from a poverty stricken childhood in a Lebanese immigrant family to the undisputed king of the cross aka the golden mile.

Starring in the titular roles of John and his older brother Sam are Lincoln Younes and Claude Jabbour, both actors telling TV Week that the show was ”worlds apart” from any form of television viewers would have seen before.

Actors Lincoln Younes and Claude Jabbour play brothers John and Sam Ibrahim. IMAGE: Paramount+

”The budget for this series gave us a scale and scope and ambition to the series that is world class, and allowed us to push the envelope in terms of what we showed,” Claude says.

”It [the series] depicts a time that is gratuitous in every way because the time was dangerous and visceral and volatile and having a high end streamer [Paramount+] fund it [the production] means we can actually not pull punches, we can show it [the cross] in all it’s ugly glory.”

Lincoln described the show as a ”completely different beast” to that of 2010’s Underbelly: Golden Mile which saw then up and coming actor Firass Dirani play the character of John.

”John wasn’t consulted with the Underbelly series, however this [Last Kings of the Cross] had direct consultation and guidance as to what it was like to grow up in that time and how he [John] went from being a poor migrant to owning the strip.

”I don’t think there is really any comparison to be drawn other than it’s the same location and it has some similar themes.”

Lincoln says understanding the business side of things helped him get into the character of John. IMAGE: Paramount+

Considering the real-life Sam is a convicted career criminal, and John has been alleged by police to be a ”major organised crime figure” and the ”lifeblood of the drugs industry” in the cross during the 80s and 1990s, TV Week was curious to know if either actor had any ethical concerns about their roles, and the story they were telling.

”It was important to me specifically that there wasn’t glorification of the characters. It’s very much an exposition of the time and of these archetypes that aren’t usually shown on TV or not shown in a stereotypical way,” Claude says.

”We wanted to add depth and create this moral quandary for the audience to sit with and how they feel about each character, because the police sit on both sides of what is ethical and what is moral in the show and in history, and same with John and Sam where at different points in the series you will understand why they do what they do, but also condemn their actions.

”It’s an incredible story and at the end of the day, it’s our job to tell good stories and then leave it up to the viewers to decide how they feel about it.”

Both actors say they did not want to glorify or glamourise any gang related activites. IMAGE: Paramount+

For Lincoln, playing Sam was more about understanding his life story.

”If I understood the business side, I then understood the character because it then informed the essence, time and the feeling and the moment that needed to be ingested before any other steps could be taken in this role.”

Ultimately, the ten-part series is about brotherhood.

”In my case, I played the character of Sam. He has a complex arc and apart from being an older brother myself in a Lebanese family there were things that I could have drawn from in my life, especially the family aspect where two brothers share a special bond,” says Sam.

”The brothers are at the heart of the series because of all the drama unfolding around them and to them,” Lincoln adds.

From the very first episodes, things heat up (literally). IMAGE: Paramount+

Whilst on set, Claude admitted there was a sense of nostalgia and sentimentality in the air.

”Being out there on the set that we created with hundreds of actors there was a vibrancy, an openness; it was a place [the set] that contradicted what it was like at that time [the golden mile] and what was happening around it.

”There is some sense of nostalgia and sentimentality when people look back to the cross as a place with vibrant nightlife and not just a place with violent and criminal elements.”

Hollywood a-lister Tim Roth is also set to star as lead antagonist Ezra Shipman. IMAGE: Paramount+

Question is, will the cross ever return to its ‘golden age?’

”The cross definitely won’t go back to how it was,” Lincoln laughs.

”This show is the sexiest history lesson you can have and it gives the people from that generation a chance to relive it and people from later generations a chance to experience it.”

Last Kings of the Cross is streaming now on Paramount+

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