Aidan Turner stars as Captain Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall after the American Revolution and finds that his fighting days are far from over.
MASTERPIECE on PBS
By Sarah Begley
August 3, 2015

Masterpiece fans have fallen in love with a new costume drama, Poldark, an adaptation of the Winston Graham novels (published between 1945 and 2002) about the Redcoat who returns to England after the American Revolutionary War to rebuild his life in Cornwall. Aidan Turner, who was previously best known for playing Kili in the Hobbit movies, has won a slew of new admirers as the just and compassionate mine owner Ross Poldark. (He’s also spawned more than a few articles—and backlash articles—about his shirtless scenes.)

TIME caught up with the actor ahead of the U.S. season one finale on Sunday to talk about the series.

TIME: How did you come to join this project?

Turner: They sent a bunch of scripts, they sent the books, they sent the outline, and just asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. It sounded exciting, I hadn’t read the books before, so I didn’t know much about what Poldark was, [but] it seemed like it was worth taking a chance on.

What did you think of the books when you read them?

I really enjoyed them—they stand the test of time. There’s 12 of them in the series, and I don’t think we’d be doing the show if the books weren’t strong. It’s a testament to Winston’s writing.

What other TV shows do you like?

Peaky Blinders is a show I’m watching. That’s 1920s. I don’t really know why that show works, either—just very good writing, good characters, a good team.

A lot of news websites, some of them serious, have made a point of writing about your abs on the show. How do you feel about that?

I don’t read press at all, so I kind of avoid a lot of this. It doesn’t really bother me—it was part of the show when I was doing it, it seemed to make sense for the character, so that’s all I really cared about. And then it just kind of disappeared from my world a little bit and I didn’t really hear any more about it.

The season ends on a cliffhanger. How much do you know about the next season?

I know the plot and the outline. I haven’t read the scripts yet, [but] I know where the journey is going.

Do you expect people to read them to find out?

People prefer not to read these days. If it’s slightly easier to wait three months or six months to see a show, people might do that as opposed to reading the book. It’s all there—you can Wikipedia very easily and just find out the plot synopsis. There’s no secret these days, everything is so accessible. But with a show like this, it doesn’t really matter. I’m shooting something at the moment and it’s an Agatha Christie murder mystery. That, in a way, it does matter that people don’t figure stuff out too quickly, because it ruins the show.

You have the movie The Secret Scripture coming up as well. What can you tell us about that project?

It was a lot of fun. Jim Sheridan directed it. Eric Bana was in it—Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave. The script is very strong. I wanted to be part of it in any capacity that I could. Jim Sheridan is a hero of mine.

Why do audiences love costume dramas so much?

It’s hard to know. If [only] we could bottle that, something that keeps the finger on the pulse of a demographic that will want to watch. Some [costume dramas] work and some of them don’t seem to strike a chord. It’s impossible, I don’t know why people watch TV—I don’t know why they want to watch certain shows over other shows. But I’m just glad I’m part of something that’s successful.

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