David Tennant is coming to US television in Fox’s “Gracepoint,” and while there are many similarities to the UK’s “Broadchurch,” don’t let that dissuade you from tuning in to the 10-part mystery event series. On Monday, Sept. 22, we joined a conference call with Tennant to find out what to expect.
If you haven’t watched “Broadchurch” (which you should) yet, Tennant offered a brief rundown of “Gracepoint.” “It’s many things, I think,” he explained. “There’s a very strong whodunnit it. There’s a procedural element of course, trying to solve a case, but I think what gives it an extra sort of texture and really makes it something rather special is the way that the characters are drawn so beautifully. There’s so much texture going on and we get to understand the lives of all the different characters that get drawn into this, and the impact of the event – the death of Danny Solano, which starts the whole ball running, which is the inciting incident in the show – it’s not just not another TV cop show death. We really understand the impact of that and we really understand what that would mean to a small community such as Gracepoint and the repercussions of that are followed through.”
Tennant pointed to Michael Pena and Virginia Kull’s performances for why “it’s very hard to watch the first episode without your heart breaking for the family” as they deal with losing their child. “It doesn’t shy away from really what the true repercussions of that will be, and that really follows through the whole series,” he previewed. “It’s very honest. It’s very candid. …It just takes you on the journey. It grabs you and it takes you on this journey which is bewildering and thrilling and grueling and gruesome and yet at the same time, I think impossible to turn off. I think it’s a compelling story and I think it’s been brilliantly told.”
At the heart of the series is the relationship between Tennant’s character and Ellie Miller, and that’s true both in “Broadchurch” and in “Gracepoint.” “The central relationship between Carver and Ellie is so defined to the show, defined the way the story is told, and essentially the bones of it are the same as “Broadchurch’s,” he shared. Tennant is the big-city cop who ends up in the small town partnered with Ellie Miller, a “local cop who is definitely good at her job but from Carver’s point of view…doesn’t really understand how modern policing works and gets far too emotionally involved with everyone and really needs to develop a healthy streak of cynicism. So that relationship, as it was in “Broadchurch,” is very much one of the central structures to “Gracepoint.””
“I didn’t set out to reinvent something particularly,” Tennant said when it comes to Carver and Hardy. “I think there’s a sense, with the whole show, that if it’s not broke, you’re not really out to fix it. We’re really out to tell this story to an audience who broadly speaking, haven’t seen it yet. …I think Hardy and Carver are very different, actually. They certainly feel very different in my bones, but obviously they look quite similar.” In the Fox series, he uses an American accent, and he pointed to that as one of the things that defines what’s different about his characters.
Both Carver and Hardy are intriguing characters with “lots of secrets,” he shared. “We’ve got an awful lot to learn about who this man is and why he is motivated in the way that he is motivated. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that throughout “Gracepoint,” we don’t entirely learn the answers to all Carver’s particular questions. Maybe we will if we ever get season 2. We’re certainly learning a few of Hardy’s secrets in “Broadchurch” [series] 2, which I’m filming at this moment, so who knows what we’ll ultimately learn about Carver, but I think clearly he’s troubled. He’s got some personal stuff going on, but he’s also hugely motivated to get justice and to find out the truth and that’s something I think we’re all motivated by, especially when something as grotesque as a child murder has taken place, so I think we may not identify with Hardy, but we can understand why he does what he does and even though he can be quite unpleasant, quite difficult at times, I think ultimately we’re all rooting for him because he’s got the interest of right on his side.”
Could there be a second season of “Gracepoint” like there is going to be one of “Broadchurch”? That all depends on how the audience responds, and Tennant suggested there’s always the possibility of “Gracepoint” going off in a different way. “I just want America to take to it the way that the UK did,” he said. “Because it was an extraordinary thing to be part of, and even as objective as I can be, I think it’s a fantastic story I think people will be thrilled by.”
“Gracepoint” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.