With an early season three pickup, Shyamalan tells The Hollywood Reporter he mapped out the future of the Apple TV+ series during lockdown.
With the second season of Servant, M. Night Shyamalan is bringing his chilling Apple TV+ series to a new level of horror.
The executive producer and director along with stars Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free and Rupert Grint spoke to The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the release of season two, teasing what’s to come for the extended Turner clan.
The thriller, created and written by Tony Basgallop, follows Philadelphia couple Dorothy (Ambrose) and Sean (Kebbell) Turner who are living in an unending nightmare after the death of their newborn son, Jericho. Dorothy refuses to believe her child is gone and uses a so-called “reborn doll” to cope with the loss. Chaos and seemingly supernatural occurrences ensue when the couple invite a mysterious nanny Leanne (Tiger Free) into their home to care for the “child.”
The second season is poised to take a deeper supernatural turn when Leanne comes back to Dorothy and Sean’s home after the events of the season one cliffhanger, and her true nature is revealed.
Ambrose notes that season two falls even more into the horror genre than the first. “There’s a wedge between [Sean and Dorothy] because my character goes so far in her rage toward Leanne,” she says. “And now is faced with this very real problem that her baby is missing. This season gets darker and somehow with it funnier and more in the genre of thriller.”
Tiger Free even teases a possible romance in the upcoming season: “We’ve turned up the volume to 100. There’s fire and fights, and glass-breaking and romance. It’s a whole thing.”
Speaking with THR, Shyamalan opened up about the religious aspects of the show, which were heavily highlighted in season one with Christian imagery, and will be explored further in season two. “I grew up Indian, so I grew up with a lot of spirituality,” he says.
The filmmaker, who attended Catholic school as a child, explains that it was spirituality that intrigued him to explore faith in the characters he works with. “Hearing those stories over and over and over, I think created a certain movement in the way I think about people’s belief systems,” he says. “So it feels very natural to talk about faith and or lack of faith in characters.”
Outside of tackling religion, there was also the task of working with the “eerily realistic” reborn doll, which proved to have its own set of challenges.
“When we first worked with it, I thought it was a real baby,” says Kebbell. “I was like, ‘Where is that baby from? Where is the mother?’” Ambrose adds that it does in fact feel and move like a real baby, making it even more eerie. The doll even comes in its own “special scary case.”
But despite the dark elements featured in the series there still are lighter moments, mostly highlighted by Rupert Grint’s character, Dorothy’s brother Julian, who provides some comedic relief. Grint has also come a long way with this role, having first gained international success playing Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise.
The world of Servant is much smaller than J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, but there are similarities to his Potter days. “What I’m loving about TV, with the same opportunity I had with Ron, is developing a character over a long period of time,” he says. “It’s a similar process in a way, but obviously very different worlds.”
As for what’s in store for Servant beyond season two, Apple is placing its bets on the thriller with an early season three pickup.
Shyamalan revealed that he already has the series mapped out with all 10 scripts written out for the next season: “The pandemic hit and that gap of four months became where I just sat in the library and worked out the whole show like, ‘This is where we’re going,’ and the last episode [of season two] is aiming us in that direction.”
Season two of Servant is now streaming on Apple TV+. Watch the video above for more on this interview.