Kunal Nayyar, Tom Rhys-Harries, Georgina Campbell and Elizabeth Henstridge in Suspicion Episode 8.
In Apple TV Plus’ new drama series Suspicion, the plot is driven by one call to action: tell the truth.
But the actors playing the central group of Londoners possibly guilty of a high stakes kidnapping didn’t even know what that truth was while filming.
“We all got briefed on our characters and where we came from and potentially what secrets we had,” says Elizabeth Henstridge, who assumes the role of university lecturer Tara McAllister. “But no… We didn't get the final episode. I didn't even know what happened in the final episode until sort of halfway through filming.”
As Tara, Henstridge is joined by Kunal Nayyar, Georgina Campbell and Tom Rhys Harries who play cybersecurity expert Aadesh Chopra, financial manager Natalie Thompson and university student Eddie Walker, respectively.
The quartet— none of whom know one another— fall under suspicion of the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency and the FBI after the son of a prominent American PR executive, Katherine Newman (Uma Thurman), is kidnapped. The four British citizens seem to lead pretty ordinary lives, except for the fact that they all were staying at the same New York City hotel the night that Leo Newman (Gerran Howell) was taken.
Uma Thurman in Suspicion Episode 7.
As the eight-episode series unfolds, so do the details about the lives of Aadesh, Natalie, Tara and Eddie. It becomes clear that the government’s suspicion might not be so wrongful. The four come together and are eventually joined by assassin Sean Tilson (Elyes Gabel) in their quest to clear their names and figure out what happened to Leo Newman.
“I was just trying to play the truth in each moment. I think we all sort of grappled with that: How do you have a conversation with someone where you're both not being completely honest because we don't trust each other as characters,” Henstridge explains about navigating the storyline. “You can sense these characters want to connect and are connecting, but there's still something in the way and so I think that's part of what makes it a thriller is as an audience, you never feel completely relaxed in knowing that somebody has been completely truthful.”
Suspicion Episode 4.
“They’re so alone on this journey and they're the only ones who understand what the situation is that they're in,” Nayyar adds. “So they need each other, but they obviously can't trust each other. And I think it's that push and pull that makes us a very exciting series.”
Trust is also put to the test between the two law enforcement agencies. While the crime took place in the U.S., all the suspects live in London, which is also where Leo attends university. Noah Emmerich as the FBI’s Scott Anderson and Angel Coulby as the NCA’s Vanessa Okoye butt heads as they work through the crime.
“He's got this brash American style, which is in deep contrast to the British gentility. But, you know, he's trying to save a boy. That's what I hold on to,” Emmerich says.
Scott and Angel lean into the twists and turns of the case, which sometimes requires taking action without disclosing the plan to the other. Their work styles and cultural approach often clash, but they also have the power to spot one another’s blindspots.
“It's a classic dynamic,” Emmerich reflects. “It's almost like a romantic comedy dynamic of these people that are forced together. They really don't like each other, but they have this task that they have to achieve together and over the course of the series, hopefully that relationship evolves.”
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Given the already well-established high-profile of Katherine Newman, son Leo’s abduction is, to put it simply, a big deal. But the stakes are further elevated by what is seen in the kidnapping video that goes viral. A clip ripe for memeing, the security footage shows the abductors wearing masks of the British royal family. It leads most people to believe that the kidnapping has to do with the possible nomination of Katherine as the next U.S. ambassador to the U.K.
The security risk prompts close surveillance of the suspects by the NCA and FBI.
Suspicion Episode 1.
“[The show] illuminates the necessity of it and our reliance on it for our safety and security. It also touches upon the dangerousness of a surveillance state and how that can be misconstrued and how we're all vulnerable to that and how would we defend ourselves in the face of false accusations,” Emmerich says. “We have to figure out how we respect privacy and balance that out with the safety of the society at-large. It's a very tricky question, and I think the show does a really good job of exploring both sides of that.”
Suspicion is wrapped in secrecy, but hinges on the call for Katherine to tell the truth. The kidnappers are the only ones besides her who know what that truth is, and yet they stir up a Banksy-style campaign across social media, television and city billboards that invigorates the power-suspicious public to also rally around the mission. Hordes of young people call for Katherine’s accountability, even though all they know is that she is very good at her job as an elite public relations virtuoso.
“It poses the question of the narrative that we have been consuming as a public,” Henstridge says. “[Things] can change very quickly now with social media and you can get your message out there and democratize information in a way, but then that isn't always as transparent as it could appear… It's murky. There's good and bad in everything."
Despite the crime thriller’s inherent social critique, at its core, Suspicion is meant to be a fun, riveting watch.
“At the end of the day, we really hope it's an exciting, thrilling, pulsating, who-done-it mystery that people will want to tune in each week so that they can figure out how that puzzle gets put together,” says Nayyar.
Suspicion is available on Apple TV Plus beginning Feb. 4 with new episodes streaming each week.
Photography by: Courtesy Apple TV Plus