From the brilliant mind of David E Kelley (Big Little Lies) and directed by Susanne Bier (The Night Manager), HBO’s new limited series The Undoing premieres on October 25, 2020.
The drama stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant as Grace and Jonathan Fraser, who are living their dream life. Grace is a successful therapist. But overnight their lives change dramatically, with a violent death and a series of terrible revelations.
Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant came to the TV Critics Association tour last January in Los Angeles to discuss their new series, which has twists and unexpected turns in every episode.

Twisty

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The Undoing, Episode 3 – Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) ©2020 HBO, photo by Niko Tavernise

Nicole, what intrigued you about doing this drama?

Nicole Kidman: The great thing about this series, and the thing that really drew me to it, is that it’s so twisty. Nothing is what it seems. It’s so hard to talk about it, because as it unfolds, you can reveal more things.

I think what the theme of (this) is, is choosing to un-know things. (That) is a fascinating part of human nature. The psychology of this series is we choose to see certain things. Also everyone has secrets. They just do.

Nice or Nasty

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The Undoing, Episode 1 – Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant) ©2020 HBO, photo by Niko Tavernise

Hugh, was it fun to get to play somebody who’s not so nice?

Hugh Grant: Yeah well, first of all, hang on… You don’t know from what you’ve seen whether I’m nice or nasty. If you’ve seen two (episodes), you know I’m not entirely as lovely as I seem in (the first) one. (he laughs)

But you don’t know if I’m evil or not. And as for playing characters who aren’t delightful, I’ve done nothing else really for the last six years. I’ve been consistently vile.

Closer to home

Is it fun to get to do these sorts of roles?

Hugh: Yeah. Christ, it’s such a relief! I can’t tell you. Richard Curtis wrote a lot of those romantic comedies I did. It always made him laugh that people thought Hugh was that nice, bumbling Englishman. Because he knew exactly the reverse was true. And it’s very nice to be closer to home.

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The Undoing, Episode 5 -Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant) and Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) and son Henry (Noah Jupe) ©2020 HBO, photo by Niko Tavernise

Whodunit

What’s the challenge of doing this? Is it that you know what’s going happen and you can’t telegraph it?

Hugh: We have to be very careful in our answers because this is a whodunit to a large extent.

Your job as an actor (is) to be as truthful to your character as you possibly can be. And that actually runs counter to what you sometimes need to do in this kind of film. Where you’re trying to fool the audience slightly or keep up a pretense. There are about seven suspects who emerge in this film.

Jigsaw

Nicole, your character is so certain in the diagnosis of her patients. Is she willing to look at herself?

Nicole: Are any of us? Yes, I think she thinks she is. The filmmaker you choose is so important when you’re doing a thriller. Ultimately, the way in which it’s edited and it’s formed is so important. You have to have it written in that particular way, it’s like a jigsaw.

I come at it in the most truthful way I can, through the character’s feelings. I try to be very honest and real in each scene. And with Susanne and David, you really see the power of editing and direction, particularly in a thriller.

The Undoing - Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant
The Undoing – Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant) and Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) ©2020 HBO, photo by Niko Tavernise

Hugh’s life

Hugh, can you talk a little bit about your character? He’s wealthy, educated, prominent, and they’re involved in a really clique-y fundraising organization with so much gossip. Do you know people like this?

Hugh: That life that you are describing is my life. So, there’s really no acting required whatsoever. The London version of that at the moment is my life!

Collide again?

Nicole, is there any movement on a potential third season of Big Little Lies? Or should we all move on?

Nicole: Please don’t, move on. There isn’t really, we’ve been so focused on this. We would love to but there’s ideas that are further on down the track. Right now, look at Laura (Dern), I don’t think we’d ever get her back. She’s working (on) so many different things. And Zoe (Kravitz) has gone onto the Marvel Universe – Catwoman. Hopefully we can all collide again at some point.

Regards to this, hopefully (it’s) juicy and fun. I love how each episode ends in a particular way, which was beautifully crafted by (David and Susanne). One of the beauties of a limited series, is you can craft these so that hopefully people go; ‘I’ve got to watch the next one.’ The other great thing is HBO doesn’t let you watch the next one immediately. So you’ve got to wait, which is a tough thing in this day and age!

The Undoing Soundbyte

Nicole and Hugh were asked about putting their characters together. Click below to listen to their replies…

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