How far would you go to keep a secret?
One rainy evening, Nathan is surprised by an unwelcome face from the past.
Nathan has never been able to forget the worst night of his life: a party that led to the sudden, shocking death of a young woman.
Only he and Bob, an eccentric old acquaintance, know what really happened… and they’ve resolved to keep it that way. But years later, Bob appears at Nathan’s door with terrifying news that threatens to tear Nathan’s world apart. Because Nathan has his own secrets now.
Secrets that could destroy everything he has desperately fought to build for himself and his family.
RUSSELL TOVEY IS NATHAN REDMAN
Q: Was this a difficult role to film?
“This was the most challenging job I have ever done as an actor. I wouldn’t classify myself as a method actor, but I do completely immerse myself into every character I play, which made it a rather hard jobi living with this guy for nine weeks. Nathan was going through so much emotionally every day, including his anxiety and panic attacks as well as trying to be happy but never being fully content. Covering up something and just trying to exist while holding on to this secret was a real weight to bare.
“You would finish a day’s filming, get in a car to go home looking over your scenes for the next day and it would be the same conflicting emotions all over again. So I was ready to have a little holiday at the end of shooting for sure.
“I am very proud of what we have done. The Sister is a unique show with its own surreal energy and dynamics. It is scary and dangerous.
“When I first read a script, I just look at the dialogue and think, ‘Can I say this? Do I know who this guy is?’ and automatically I know whether I want to do it. It usually takes me around ten pages to know if I want to be involved in a project and I knew straight away with this that I wanted to play this guy. I wanted to know more about him and inhabit his world.
“Viewers watching the show are meant to wonder what is going on and be second guessing everything. You are meant to be doubting and questioning who is right and who is wrong. That is all part of the style of writing that Neil Cross embodies.
“Neil brings a distinctive energy to his writing, which is recognised as his style now. He has that ability and incredible skill to root a story in the real world and yet it is heightened to another level. You think you know the characters he has created but then with a flip of a coin you have no idea who they are.”
Q: Who is Nathan?
“Nathan, ultimately, is a really nice guy. An outgoing, sweet person with big dreams. Ten years ago, something happens on the night of a New Year’s Eve party that changes him for the rest of his life. He has tried to rebuild his life ever since.
“When we first meet Nathan, he is married to a woman called Holly (Amrita Acharia). He absolutely loves and adores her. His main mission is to channel all his energy into making sure she is happy. That is what he lives for.
“He seems to be in a good place having made some better choices in his life. He is coping but he has some anxieties that sit with him all the time. Someone from his past turns up on his doorstep, causing the past to come flashing right back and sets off a chain of events. In part, the story is about good people making mistakes and how things can change in a moment.
“I loved working with Amrita and the rest of the cast. We all went for it and that was so electrifying. To completely trust each other. I feel really proud to be on the screen with them.”
Q: The Sister has a supernatural element. Do you have any personal experience of that?
“I am convinced I saw a ghost dog years ago. A big white ghost dog. I was at a friend’s house. They lived in an old rectory building and a week before there was a psychic there who started stroking something in the air. My friend’s mum was like, ‘What are you doing?’ The psychic replied, ‘You’ve got a big white dog here.’ Then one day we were sat in the living room and I looked down into the hall and I saw this white dog. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ There was a part of me that went, ‘Have I just imagined that because I heard the story? Or have I actually just seen it?’. I was with some mates who never saw anything. But I am totally convinced I saw it. Obviously, no-one believes me.
“I guess ghosts are some form of unfinished business or trapped in some sort of limbo. I don’t know. It’s all energy. It does not make sense to me that you are just here, then you die and there is nothing. I am definitely someone who believes that my nan is looking after me from above. I do believe in energy, definitely. It’s easy for me to believe.
“Then you meet people who believe that it’s life, death and then you’re done. I would like to believe that if you are a good person you do go on to somewhere else. I am not a religious person when it comes to organised religion, but I do believe that this is not it spiritually. If it is about believing i something bigger than us, then I definitely do.
“You only have to look up at the billions of stars in the sky. What scares me more than anything is space: what is it? When you get a clear night sky and can look up at the stars, you think, ‘What the hell is all of this?’ “Then you think about something like Coronavirus. It’s like an alien invasion, like a movie. With the whole planet united in trying to battle this extraordinary thing that has come out of nowhere. We are all suddenly joined. Hopefully when we finally get through this, on the other side, the world is going to be a much better place. Because everyone is going to realise we are all in the same boat. You have to slow down and think about other people.”
Q: Darkness plays its own role in The Sister. Were you scared of the dark as a child?
“I’ve never feared the dark. I had a period of about three weeks after I watched The Gremlins film and thought they were hiding behind my parents’ bedroom door or under their bed. I was terrified of that … for about three weeks. I once experimented with a Ouija board when we were young and that played on my mind because everyone would just freak each other out. Talking about being haunted. So that used to scare me”.
Q: We also see Nathan as a younger man. How was that filmed?
“It’s a completely different energy. When you see Nathan at a younger age, I wanted to portray what could have been. I wanted to make him more puppy-ish, more outgoing and confident. Just happy. There is an energy shift that happens until he eventually goes through absolute despair.
“Our hair and make-up team were just incredible. Brilliant. What they accomplished was excellent. At times we were filming all different ages of Nathan in one day. So that was a challenge for them for sure. Just a simple change in hair colour can make the world of difference. It’s quite a shift to seeN athan as a younger man.”
Q: Where did you film?
“We filmed most of The Sister around London. Some of the most challenging scenes were during two weeks of night shoots in the rain. The crew would probably say that was one of the hardest experiences of their whole careers. It was really tough filming those scenes at night. This was a hard job. But it looks amazing on screen, so it was absolutely worth it. The rewards reaped from everybody’s hard work are was amazing and I cannot wait for people to see the show.”
Q: Does TV drama have an extra value in our current times?
“People need the escape of TV drama more than ever. To hear stories and connect to what it is to be alive and the importance of being human. The way people communicate emotions is through art, which in turn helps in our understanding of the world. Through all levels of art — music, TV, radio, theatre, galleries, museums and so on. People need that escape.
“No one has ever before experienced anything like what has happened this year in our lifetime. But you must have hope. I think it is going to change a lot of things. It has slowed people down. Hopefully, something good will come out of it; something good for the whole planet.”
The Sister starts Mon 26 October at 9pm on itv. Stream it via itv hub.