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Gil Birmingham Notes What Separates Under The Banner Of Heaven From Other Crime Thrillers He's Done - Exclusive

While the new FX series, "Under the Banner of Heaven" marks actor Andrew Garfield's first crime thriller after starring in such films as the musical biopic "tick, tick ... BOOM!" and superhero blockbuster "Spider-Man: No Way Home," his co-star Gil Birmingham is quite familiar with the genre. With that familiarity for the prolific actor, though, comes the desire for greater challenges, and Birmingham believes he's found what he's looking for with the new true crime-inspired series.

Streaming exclusively on Hulu, "Under the Banner of Heaven" stars Garfield as Salt Lake Valley Detective Jeb Pyre, who, as a devout member of the Mormon faith, volunteers to investigate the grisly double murder of Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her infant daughter in the Latter-Day Saints community in 1984. With mounting evidence implying the direct involvement of one or more LDS members who prescribe to Mormon fundamentalism, Jeb struggles with the investigation as the dark secrets of the religion emerge and start playing on his psyche. Birmingham stars alongside Garfield as Bill Taba, a veteran detective and community outsider who keeps Jeb on task to make sure his partner's judgement remains sound as tension surrounding the case begins to escalate.

Birmingham, who has appeared in more than 60 films and television series over his 35 years in Hollywood, sat down with Garfield to discuss the series in an exclusive interview with Looper.

Birmingham was attracted to the project because of personal connections

"Under the Banner of Heaven" is the creation of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"), who based the limited series on author Jon Krakauer's best-selling 2003 true crime novel, called, "Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith." And while Birmingham has appeared in a variety of genres including the supernatural ("The Twilight Saga"), comedy ("The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"), political drama ("House of Cards"), and Western drama ("Yellowstone"), the actor has also made indelible marks in several crime thrillers. 

But after appearing in such series in the genre including "Animal Kingdom" — as well as the films, "Wind River" and "Hell or High Water" — Birmingham said he is looking for material that not only rises to the same level of greatness but provides a story that sets it apart from anything he's done in the genre before.

"[Under the Banner of Heaven] intrigued me because I've come, personally, from a background, on one side of my family, a religious family. On the other side of it [was] my father being in law enforcement," Birmingham told Looper. "I've always been intrigued by the notion of life philosophy, spirituality. This was particularly intense and a breakdown of what these belief systems can do and how they evolve, and how they affect the lives of a community — sometimes positive — [but] in this particular case, in a negative way. [This was about] the mindset of what's going on that a human being can take a division in a road like that and commit a heinous crime like they did."

Also starring Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell, Adelaide Clemens, Billy Howle and Rory Culkin, "Under the Banner of Heaven" is streaming exclusively on Hulu. New episodes of the limited series premiere every Thursday through June 2.