VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: Lauren Ambrose & Toby Kebbell On How M. Night Shyamalan Was Like ‘The Godfather’ On ‘Servant’ Set
M. Night Shyamalan‘s new psychological horror series Servant has an extremely disturbing premise.
A young couple who lost their child due to health complications replace the child with a lifelike doll and hire a nanny to take care of the infant. It then quickly becomes clear that things are not exactly what they appear to be.
Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, the Broadway revival of My Fair Lady) and Toby Kebbell, (Dead Man’s Shoes, RocknRolla, War Horse) who portray the couple in the upcoming Apple TV+ series, explained to uInterview exclusively who their characters are, what the experience on set was like and more.
“I play Dorothy Turner, who is the mother in this world,” said Ambrose of her character, who is a news reporter. “She’s a very ambitious, type-A perfectionist. She has to have a perfect life.”
Ambrose continued: “She’s sort of a local celebrity and she’s doing everything she can to keep the smooth veneer over the perfection of her life.”
The actress added that her character is in “deep denial” of the tragedy that she and her husband are facing and said that her attitude towards it leads to consequences that come about in “crazy ways.”
“It was a challenge,” Ambrose said of playing her character.
Kebell explained that his character Sean is a chef who ran and sold many successful restaurants and then went on to start a family and begins to fear for his relationship with Dorothy.
“I think his main concern is that he may lose his wife [just like he lost his child],” Kebell said of Sean, before adding he believes his character is also in denial of his loss. “The charade that we are portraying, he is happy to play along with just as long as he gets to keep some semblance of his normal life.”
Kebbell and Ambrose also revealed they both had to deal with some “creepy” moments on set, whether due to specific scenes they shot or things that were around them.
“I had to spy on our guest, on the servant,” Kebbell said before joking that he feels he is slightly “creepy” in general. “That felt creepy to me.”
Ambrose admitted she was disturbed by something else on set.
“There’s a lot of food on the set because of the ‘cheffing,’ so there were some very strange moments with food that were gross to me,” said the actress.
The actors also raved about Shyamalan, saying the Sixth Sense director was incredibly welcoming and open to discussing their characters and the premise of Servant — which they partly approached like a play — from the very beginning.
“He has his door open for us to sit and chat and he wanted to figure out the characters,” said Kebbell.
Ambrose and Kebbell revealed how Shyamalan was constantly and heavily involved in nearly every aspect of the series’ production.
“He’s sort of the godfather of the whole thing. He’s always there,” Ambrose said of Shyamalan, and Kebbell agreed. “If he’s not on set checking anything, he’s in the editing room and he’s got his hand in every part of the production.”
“Night is just a very creative person,” she added.
Servant also stars Nell Tiger Free and Rupert Grint and will begin streaming on Apple TV+ on Nov. 28.