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Gracepoint Series Premiere Preview [VIDEO and PHOTOS + David Tennant Interview] 

Photo Credit: Mathieu Young/FOX
Photo Credit: Mathieu Young/FOX

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead

I was a huge fan of BBC America’s Broadchurch, so I knew I’d be watching the American version of this disturbing, but fascinating show. You’ve got the tragic murder of a kid in a small town where everybody knows each other. The media investigation that ensues turns neighbor against neighbor as all sorts of ugly secrets are unearthed – about the murdered child and about quite of few of the inhabitants of this small seaside town.

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Leading the investigation is David Tennant‘s Detective Emmett Carver, who has just arrived in Gracepoint to fill a high position in the town’s police force. That job previously had been promised to Anna Gunn‘s Detective Ellie Miller, who, in light of the tragedy, must put any resentment aside and work the case with her prickly new boss.

Det. Miller must break the news of the crime to her doting husband, Josh Hamilton‘s Joe, and her son, Jack Irvine‘s Tom, who was the best friend of the murder victim, Nikolas Filipovic‘s Danny Solano.

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Danny is survived by his grieving parents, Michael Peña‘s Mark and Virginia Kull‘s Beth Solano, and his rebellious older sister, Madalyn Horcher‘s Chloe, who has an older boyfriend, Kendrick Sampson‘s Dean Iverson, unbeknownst to her parents.

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Cast photos credited to Mathieu Young/FOX.

Last week TV Goodness participated in a press call with David Tennant. He teased what to expect in this 10-part series, Emmett’s relationship with Ellie and working with Anna Gunn, as well what’s so compelling about playing Broadchurch‘s Hardy and Gracepoint‘s  Carver.

For people who are completely new to the series, how would you describe it and what can you tease about what’s coming up?

David Tennant: “It’s hard to describe it completely comprehensively, because it’s many things I think. On one level, it’s a whodunit and the spine of that is something I think is familiar to us from many TV shows and movies of the past. There’s a very strong whodunit in there. There’s the procedural element of cops trying to solve a case. I think what gives it an extra texture and really makes it something rather special is the way the characters are drawn so beautifully. There’s so much texture going on, that we get to understand the lives of all the different characters that get drawn into this and the impact of the event; the death of Danny Solano, which starts the whole ball running, which is the inciting incident in the show.

It’s not just another TV cop show death. We really understand the impact of that, and we really understand what that would mean to a small community such as Gracepoint. The repercussions of that are followed through. I think it’s very hard to watch the first episode without your heart breaking for the family, actually. That’s helped by the fact that they’re played by Michael Pena and Virginia Kull, who both really take you on this harrowing, awful journey of two parents who lose a child. That, in itself, is about one of the worst things that human beings can imagine. It doesn’t shy away from really showing you what the true repercussions of that will be. That really follows through the whole series. It’s very honest. It’s very candid, and yet at the same time, it’s a thriller as well. It grabs you and takes you on this journey, which is a bewildering and thrilling and grueling and gruesome, and yet, at the same time, I think impossible to turn off. It’s a compelling story. I think it’s been brilliantly told. I’m just very pleased to be a part of it.”

Can you talk about Emmet and Ellie’s relationship and what it was like to work with Anna Gunn?

David: “The central relationship between Carver and Ellie so defines the show really, and defines the way the story is told. Essentially, the bones of it are the same as Broadchurch is. I play the big city cop who gets dropped into this one horse town, as he sees it, and is given, as his deputy, this rather local cop, who is perfectly good at her job, but from Carver’s point of view is something of a hick, who doesn’t really understand how modern policing works, and gets far too emotionally involved with everyone, and really needs to develop a healthy streak of cynicism. That relationship, as it was in Broadchurch, is very much one of the central structures to Gracepoint.

A lot of that is defined by the relationship you can build up as actors. I was very nervous, especially having done this show before, and that relationship and worked very well with the wonderful Olivia Colman, who plays Miller in Broadchurch. I was nervous, of course, turning up on day one to meet Anna, because we had so much to do together, that that relationship was so important to get right. Luckily, she just turned out to be a proper actress, someone who was committed to getting it right, who was open, who was easy to work with, who you could also have a laugh with, who you could throw anything at her and she would respond. That’s just the kind of professional relationship that you always hope for. It was a huge relief and then a great joy to work with her throughout the ten episodes. Everyone who knows her work knows how talented she is. I was very chuffed to get to play alongside and also get to know her offset as well. She’s a lovely lady and someone that I feel greatly enriched to know.”

With the characters in Gracepoint and Broadchurch being so similar, was your approach to playing each of them different or was the goal more along the lines of just bringing the character from Broadchurch to a wider audience in America?

David: “I just tried to play each scene as it came. I didn’t want to be self-consciously quirky about it. I didn’t want to re-create something for the sake of or reinvent something for the sake of reinventing it. I didn’t think, ‘He’s got to be different, I’ll give him a limp or a funny hat or a lisp.’ I just wanted to tell the story. I approached each scene as openly as I could, and tried to tell that story as honestly and as well as I could. I think that’s all you can ever really do. It would be self-conscious, and just a bit odd for me to be setting out to do something that the script didn’t support.

Inevitably things then do become different, because you’re playing scenes that are very similar with very different actors, so you’re reacting to what they are giving you, you’re responding to the different environment that you’re in. I think at times there are some scenes that are very similar to Broadchurch. There are others where even though the words can be very similar at times, they play very differently. That was continually surprising for me being part of it. I don’t suppose it would have ever been any other way really.

We’re very fortunate. This is a tribute to the quality of the script, because good actors, in my experience, respond to good scripts and want to do them. Because it’s such a well written piece, I think both times, in the UK and in America, we attracted Rolls-Royce of casts, and therefore whenever you go to play a scene with people that are that good, something exciting is going to happen. That, I think, happened in every episode and every scene. That’s the sort of thing you dream of when you leave drama school. These are the kind of jobs you fantasize about.”

What makes Carver/Hardy so compelling?

David: “To me, it’s because he’s a character that’s so intriguingly drawn, I think. He’s got lots of secrets. That’s always intriguing from an audience’s point of view and from an acting point of view. Certainly at the start of Gracepoint, we’ve got an awful lot to learn about who this man is, and why he is motivated in a way that he is motivated. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that throughout Gracepoint we don’t entirely learn the answers to all Carver’s particular questions. Maybe we will if we ever get a Season 2. We’re certainly learning a few of Hardy’s secrets in Broadchurch, too, which I’m filming at the moment.

Who knows what we’ll ultimately learn about Carver. Clearly, he’s troubled. He’s got some personal stuff going on, but he’s also hugely motivated to get justice and to find out the truth, and that’s something that I think we’re all motivated by, especially when something as grotesque as a child murder has taken place. We may not identify with Hardy, but we can understand why he does what he does. Even though he can be quite unpleasant and quite difficult at times, I think ultimately we’re all rooting for him, because he’s got the interest of right on his side.”

Edited for space and content.

Gracepoint premieres Thursday, October 2nd at 9/8c on FOX.



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All images courtesy of Ed Araquel/FOX.

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