Tom Burke // Image via Tumblr.com
In The Cuckoo’s Calling, the first of three novels in a detective series penned by J.K. Rowling—writing as Robert Galbraith—private investigator Cormoran Strike is called many things: a massive grizzly bear; a man of general hairiness coupled with a gently expanding belly; a bruised, battered and perpetually disheveled male; a creature bearing the thick brows of a young Beethoven and the springy hair of one’s public region …
Distinctly omitted among all the grisly descriptors given to the P.I.? Handsome.
So, when it was announced days ago that Tom Burke—of BBC’s War and Peace fame—would play Strike in BBC One’s adaptation of the series, Rowling lauded the 35-year-old Tolstoy heartthrob, saying she was “thrilled” he’d be taking on the role. “[Tom is] a massively talented actor who’ll bring the character to perfect life,” she said. “Cormoran Strike is pure joy to write and I can’t wait to see Tom play him.”
(Of note: Rowling’s production company, Brontë Film & TV, made the casting announcement in conjunction with BBC One, and Rowling will serve as executive producer on the series.)
Now if you’ve read the books, you’ll know any sexual appeal Strike exudes is strictly accidental, a byproduct of his rock-star heritage (Strike’s father is fictional superstar musician, Jonny Rokeby) and an undeniable je ne sais quoi. Brooding, dark and unrelenting in his pursuit of the truth, Strike is alluring because he’s so far from our conventional sketch of who a hero should be. Reading about his brutish figure hobbling stoically down a London street (he lost half his leg as a SIB investigator for the British military), you sense the gravitas of his persona, you smell the peppery liquor on his breath, you see the dark shadows that follow him around with a heavier veil than most, and you finally understand why a woman might fall for such a man.
Does Burke, possessing a kind of wolfish beauty, fit this esoteric profile? Maybe. At the very least, the actor, a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, seems to understand the inscrutability of the role he’s about to play, calling Strike a man “as complex as he is larger than life,” and noting that Cormoran’s world “is rich and raw.”
Still, if you’re unconvinced Burke is right for the part and the idea of a sexier Strike has got you down, I can only advise to heed the wise words grumbled by the detective himself in The Silkworm: “Cheer the fuck up.”