18/04/2012 12:41 BST | Updated 20/04/2012 08:28 BST

'Smash' Star Jack Davenport On What Makes Derek Wills Tick

"It's quite liberating to play Derek, because I get to exercise my inner-sociopath for money," says Jack Davenport of his latest character Derek Wills - a director in a musical theatre show centred around the creation of a Marilyn Monroe musical for Broadway.

Smash, which is co-produced by Steven Spielberg, was recently commissioned for a second series in the US, but is only just hitting UK screens this month, and British actor Davenport can't wait for us to get to know his character - the Simon-Cowell-of-musicals, Derek.

However, he says, despite Derek's Machiavellian traits, viewers Stateside have warmed to him: "I think in some ways it's quite a release having a character that doesn't care what people think about him.

"Having said that he's not some sort of raging id who says the first thing that comes in to his head. In fact he's quite the opposite, everything he says is considered and in some ways it's considered to provoke a reaction and that's dramatically fascinating."

Jack Davenport holds his students in thrall as Smash's musical guru Derek Wills

He continues: "It's kind of his job to manipulate people and push them and pull things out of them. So far I've met people who've been kind of into him, but whether they want to take him home to meet their mother is an entirely different question."

Derek pulls no punches and spouts some fantastic lines in the show, such as: "Marilyn herself would have to pop out of that envelope and do me right here." He's the type of character viewers love to hate, but what makes him tick?

"It's essentially a desire to create the best show he can, unfortunately in trying to achieve that he can be quite abrasive and Machiavellian-like, and you don't necessarily want to be in the way when he's doing that. But that's the type of guy he is," says Davenport, best known for his role in nineties TV series This Life.

MORE: 'Glee's A Karaoke Show,' Says Smash Star

For Davenport, playing Derek gives him a chance to break out from the norm. He explains: "He couldn't care less about what anyone thinks about him. I sadly do care what people think about me, I wish I cared less but I don't and it's quite liberating to play someone like that.

"It gives you a huge amount of room to play and you don't get to meet a lot of people like that in the real world."

Davenport is proud of the originality of the show - notwithstanding its comparisons to Glee (which he disputes) - and "the fact that no one in this show has a gun or is wearing a white coat or is pleading in front of a judge".

He says: "There's plenty of those shows and they're great, and some of them are my favourite shows, but I didn't want to have to do one of them if I had a choice and in this case I did."

Smash starts on Sky Atlantic HD from the 21 April. Here are the music-makers in action...