BBC America is playing its cards close to the vest in revealing details about its spooky new series Intruders, drawn from Michael Marshall Smith’s 2007 novel and directed by Blair Witch Project mastermind Eduardo Sánchez.
According to the network, the thriller “is about a secret society devoted to chasing immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others” and features Jack Whelan (Doctor Who’s John Simm), a troubled former LAPD cop who escapes to a peaceful new life in the Pacific Northwest with his pretty wife Amy (Mira Sorvino). When Amy goes missing on a business trip, then returns a very different woman, James is drawn into the mysterious world of murderous agent Richard Shepherd (James Frain, Grimm) and a neglected little girl named Madison (Once Upon a Time in Wonderland’s Millie Brown) who encounters Shepherd when she runs away from home.
“Glen Morgan [the series’ writer] has really created a very rich character for me to play, which is suggested in the book but not seen — I get to play a whole range with the humanity in it,” says Sorvino, who encountered the very human problem of keeping her kids from letting the family cat escape while she talked. “Amy can be like a broken-winged bird and very vulnerable and tragically mourning something and at other times she has these Machiavellian elements with a lot of power and a lot of strength.”
Sorvino says that despite their extraordinary — perhaps otherworldly — marital challenges, the Whelans’ union will feel achingly familiar to anyone who has struggled to keep a dying relationship intact.
“It is normal and not normal at the same time,” she says. “They are a true husband and wife; they are characters that love each other, but are slipping away from each other and he is trying to hold on. He is trying to figure it out, but there is this atmosphere of heavy sadness to their dealings with each other.”
As for working so intimately with Simm, Sorvino says she’s eager for TV audiences on this side of the pond to get to know him beyond Doctor Who.
“He is a wonderful acting partner,” she says warmly. “He has a great following in England and I think Americans are going to love discovering him, though ultimately some already know him quite well from Doctor Who. He’s also from Life on Mars in England, which was made into an American show.”
Having such an invested group of talent on set was the sturdy backbone of what she says was a deeply satisfying, sensory acting experience.
“There are tremendous scenes of drama and conflict and love that are just amazing to play, so it was always a hard day on the set because the scenes were emotionally very challenging,” Sorvino recalls. “We had to go through a lot as the characters, but there was a really cool mood and ambiance to the scenes, especially when we were getting into some of the sets that had to do with the more paranormal side of the story. They were just incredible — the feeling of being there. You were really transported to the alternate reality, to places you never thought were possible.”
But, Sorvino stresses, Intruders’ heart remains deeply human. Though she was careful not to give away much about the show’s complex, intertwined storylines, she says the eight-episode series is unlike any of the other resurrection-themed shows on television.
“Even though it does have elements of a police noir or a detective movie and has elements of a paranormal story, a star-crossed love story and a creepy horror movie vibe, it’s really about the fundamentals of life and death,” Sorvino explains. “Our greatest fears and our greatest hopes, life and death, and what happens to us after that.
“It is not paranormal in a magical way; it is more paranormal in a ritual way,” she continues. “It is investigating the human heart and putting into it a ‘what if there was an opportunity to live forever and who would control that and how would you find that and what would you do to find that or for that?’”
Intruders premieres Saturday, Aug. 23 on BBC America.
Images/video: BBC Ameria