Andrea Riseborough delves into the joys and tribulations of love in the Channel 4 series “Alice & Jack,” a creation of Victor Levin.
In anticipation of the MipCom premiere of the show, she shares her insights with Variety. She is also an executive producer of the series.
“The frustration of deeply appreciating someone and yet struggling to understand them or be understood by them, that’s a universal connection in life,” she remarks. “Moreover, it’s not solely about frustration; there’s also excitement. Love can propel you to your highest highs, offering the most exultant feeling in the world, yet it can be incredibly challenging. True love is unmatched in its difficulty.”
This is the voyage Alice and Jack (portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson) are about to embark upon. After what seemed to be a one-night stand, they realize they cannot be together, and they equally cannot be apart.
“When Vic shared the initial episode with me, it felt so…awkward, heartrending, and uproariously funny.”
“The absurdity and awkwardness of it all can be comically amusing in hindsight when reflecting on a relationship. I don’t know about you, but I’ve shared some of the heartiest laughs with my friends over the silly, foolish things we do when we’re in love.”
Reuniting with Domhnall Gleeson allowed her to delve deeper into the relationship’s complexity.
“This marks the third project we’ve worked on together with Domhnall. We played a couple in ‘Never Let Me Go,’ and later, I made ‘Shadow Dancer,’ in which he portrayed my brother. We share a history of genuine friendship and mutual respect, which was a valuable asset in bringing depth to the characters.”
Produced by Fremantle, with handling sales responsibilities, “Alice & Jack” was created in collaboration with Me + You Productions, Groundswell Productions, De Maio Entertainment, and Masterpiece.
Although an Oscar nominee and BAFTA winner, recognized for her roles in “Birdman,” “Mandy,” and “To Leslie,” Andrea Riseborough admits that she is more accustomed to working in film.
“Except for their initial encounter, everything was shot out of sequence, which is perpetually confusing to me. Coming from a theater background and having collaborated with Mike Leigh, I kept wondering, ‘Are we doing this in reverse?'”
“The curious aspect about television is that you only possess the project’s beginning. The lack of awareness about where the characters will end up makes it an unusual experience. You are essentially stepping into the great unknown.”
This is why it’s essential to collaborate with the right individuals, such as directors Hong Khaou, whom she describes as “outstanding at guiding actors,” and Juho Kuosmanen.
“I have long been a believer in Juho Kuosmanen. ‘Compartment No. 6’ was exquisitely beautiful. I was insistent that we should aim for someone with a distinctive cinematic voice because establishing the language for that initial segment was incredibly significant.”
While shooting “What Remains” in Finland, she reached out to him.
“I sent him a message on WhatsApp, which felt like a tremendous victory because everyone had been telling me how elusive he was. Following a relaxed Finnish moment, it became evident that he would participate. He strikes a balance between profound bleakness and pure levity.”
“There was no purpose in creating [the show] unless it involved truly exceptional individuals. All too often, we attempt to bring things to life merely for the sake of doing so. I never want to do that.”
With the support of her “brilliant” co-stars Aisling Bea, Sunil Patel, and Aimee Lou Wood, she embraced the challenge of portraying a character with an “inscrutable code,” a successful professional grappling with profound trauma.
“She’s a true enigma, which is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Alice. I felt that she was a fully developed, captivating human being, replete with profound flaws, making her truly engaging,” she reflects.
“Humanity can be narrowly and peculiarly represented, but there are countless individuals brimming with complexity. One often experiences unanticipated reactions, which may not align with cinematic conventions but stay true to life.”
As the love story between Alice and Jack spans several years, it carries a sense of “eternity and permanence.”
“It doesn’t conform to traditional norms and does not appear flawless from the outside. Yet, it’s an immense love story. Perhaps it’s something all of us experience but seldom discuss,” ponders Riseborough.
“Love is profoundly intimidating. It’s a monumental challenge to lay your heart on the line. I know it is for me, but thankfully, I continue to take that risk.”