M. Night Shyamalan Is Devoted To ‘Servant’

Apple TV+ Global Premiere Red Carpet with director M. Night Shyamalan and cast Toby Kebbell, Lauren Ambrose, Nell Tiger Free, Rupert Grint. ©awardscircuit.com (Photo/Steven Prusakowski)

The stars of the new Apple TV+ series, “Servant,” carefully chose their words during the show’s Global Red Carpet Premiere at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. The new psychological thriller is chock full of questions and the cast certainly was not going to reveal any of the answers. They were willing to provide some insights into their characters and experience, as seen in the video below.

Red Carpet Insights

The M. Night Shyamalan directed show tells the story of a young couple, Dorothy and Sean Turner (Lauren Ambrose and Toby Kebbell) who suffer the devastating loss of their infant son. As a way of coping they start to tend to an eerie baby doll as if it was their actual son. To make matters even more bizarre, the couple hire a nanny, Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to help care for their doll child. As things unfold, more mysteries are presented. It becomes apparent that very little of what we see is actually as it appears. The main cast is rounded out by Julian (Rupert Grint) the brother-in-law and confidant of Sean who knows something is not right in the Turner household. He, like the viewer, seems set on figuring just what is going on.

Although they were not willing to provide any spoilers, we did have the opportunity to speak with M. Night about some of the creative decisions that help shape the show. Mainly, the relatively small cast and limited shooting location – it was shot almost exclusively in one Philadelphia home. The restricted scale of the show may keep the ambitious scheduling goals obtainable while staying true to writer/show creator Tony Basgallop‘s vision.

How Do We Do This?

Night explained that they first had to determine how to break down the show. “The dream version is 60 episodes, six years. And that’s the issue with long-form is its content. It’s so much content, you can’t keep up with it eventually, you’re just getting it done. So how can I make this math work for me? Shoot 60 episodes, half-hour episodes. Very limited locations, because even if you do half-hour content and it’s 20 locations that is just impossible. We’re just rushing to get everything done, just the physical nature of it,” explained Shyamalan.

The smaller scale not only helped with the logistics but also allowed Shyamalan more creative control. “I mean our whole show is the cost of two episodes of other people’s shows. It’s really that kind of minimalism that it’s 30 minutes that it’s in one location that it has this four-member cast and those are all opportunities to go deeper and deeper and deeper for me. I mean, for me the dinner table scene is an action scene.”

“It’s unlimited how I can do it so I can delve into that and so I can deal with more of the palate of performances and lighting and camera movement which is where my interest is. So then I can do that in these shows and create this formalism that works against the manic nature of what’s happening.”

“It was very natural it’s a play-like thing, very limited. It makes me hopeful that we can do our craft and still learn something each episode about the characters and about our storytelling,” said with a smile.

One thing Shyamalan said really stood out. “I’m definitely half a glass is three-quarters full.” After hearing about the ambitious goals for the series, this will certainly help. And, it looks like that optimism is paying off, the series was just renewed for a second season.

To end the interview, I asked Shymalan, who has always taken on original works for both film and television, if there is a franchise, old or current, that he would like to jump into. His answer was unexpected. “It’s probably irrational, what I was going to say, but the ‘Kung-Fu’ TV series was the big bucket list,” he said with a laugh. “The philosophy of all that stuff.” A unique selection for sure, but one people would certainly watch with him attached.

“Servant” premieres exclusively on Apple TV+ streaming service this Thursday, November, 28th.