‘Surface’ Team on Twists and Turns in the Gugu Mbatha-Raw Thriller: “You Won’t Know What to Expect”

After just a few episodes of Apple TV+’s Surface, viewers have already experienced a number of twists and turns, as what characters believe happened may not have taken place as they thought and those same characters’ motivations appear to shift.

But those who think they know what the Apple TV+ thriller, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a woman who is trying to piece back together her memory after a tragic accident, is about after just seeing the three episodes that debuted last week don’t know what’s coming, the team behind the series said at the show’s premiere in New York last month.

“You won’t know what to expect — that’s the one thing I can guarantee about Surface,” showrunner Victoria West told The Hollywood Reporter. “You will not predict the ending. You don’t know who anybody really is and that’s really what we set out to do. There’s a lot of shows out there where people do guess the ending. But we’re not based on a book. There’s no way to Google it. And I feel like that’s the power of the story that we wanted to harness is just doubling down every episode, surprising people, twisting the story backwards and forwards.”

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“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said executive producer Lauren Neustadter, whose Hello Sunshine banner with Reese Witherspoon produced the drama. “You think you know what’s going to happen and every time you’re certain you know what the twist is going to be, we subvert your expectations and something different and exciting comes your way. I think it’s really an incredible, original thriller. People are going to think they know the twists but we’re going to bring them something interesting.”

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François Arnaud, who plays Sophie’s husband’s friend, advised those who think they have the show figured out to “keep watching” and clarified that future reveals may not negate what came before.

“The thing is there are many truths that are revealed but they don’t necessarily all contradict each other. They add a layer of understanding to it,” Arnaud said. “I think that’s true of human experience in general. Two people can be right and disagree on something.”

For Neustadter, the series was the right project for Hello Sunshine as the company was looking to do something with Mbatha-Raw after her memorable first-season turn on The Morning Show.

“I read the script and fell completely in love with it,” Neustadter recalled. “I called Reese and I was like, ‘I think this is it. It’s spellbinding.’ From the first time I read it, I was captivated by Sophie, by this character, by Veronica’s writing and I felt like it was a perfect vehicle for Gugu and when Reese read it she agreed and we sent it to Gugu and she fell in love with it and the rest is history.”

In the world of the show, as Sophie tries to figure out her own past, she opens up to some characters but is more cautious towards others. When asked why she gravitates towards certain people, Mbatha-Raw explained that at the start of the series, “Sophie is not on solid ground. Obviously she has lost her memory, and she’s really looking to people in her life to tell her who she is, namely, initially her husband and her best friend. For her it’s really about figuring out who to trust and even if she can trust herself.”

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