David Tennant left Des cast and crew in shock with striking resemblance to serial killer Dennis Nilsen on ITV set

DAVID Tennant left the Des cast and crew in shock with his striking resemblance to serial killer Dennis Nilsen on the ITV set.

The new ITV drama sees David,49, play the notorious serial killer, who murdered more than a dozen men at his London home from 1978 until 1983.

As well as studying his voice and mannerisms for the role, David had to physically transform into the murderer, and when his co-stars Daniel Mays and Jason Watkins saw him on set for the first time, they were stunned at the uncanny resemblance.

Daniel, who plays the detective in charge of the case, said: "I think David delivers an utterly spellbinding turn. It was eerie, he physically resembled him.

"When ITV released that first look image of him, I think everyone was unanimous in saying how much he looked like him.

"There are documentaries on Nilsen where you can learn about his characteristics, see him talk and move, and David really did embody that."


Daniel added he liked watching David perform as Dennis even if he wasn't in the scene.

He said: "In the interrogation scene when Des goes into his long rambling
speeches, they had already shot myself and Ron Cook – so I’m off camera – but occasionally when you’re working with an actor as brilliant as David is, you sit there observing how brilliant the performance is.

"I had one of those moments with him and it’s unlike anything he’s done before. It really is quite a spectacular performance that he’s delivered."

Daniel added his co-star had put so much work into his embodiment of Dennis, he even had his signature perfected.

He told ITV: "it’s the level of detail that he goes into. For instance, when he describes dissecting the bodies, it’s so flippant that it becomes eerie.

"Also, there’s one moment where he has to sign the police statement, and David got his phone and nudged me and said, ‘Does that look the same?’.

"He had completely perfected Nilsen’s signature – it was absolutely identical. It was a glimpse into David’s process and how much he’s gone into his research and how professional he is."

Des begins on Monday, September 14 at 9pm on ITV.

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