Apple’s new series “Home Before Dark” is a crime drama with child reporters.
It’s based on the true story of Hilde Lysiak (played by Brooklynn Prince), a 9-year-old journalist who broke a local murder story in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, in 2016. (Her name in the series is Hilde Lisko.)
Jim Sturgess, who stars as her father, Matt, says he was drawn to both the crime aspects of the story and the family angle.
“I’ve played various dads in other films and TV shows, and I’ve always really enjoyed it,” says Sturgess, 41 (“Across the Universe”). “But it was always in the background of the story, not [in] the main predominant plotline. You get a lot from working with kids as an actor; you really have to sort of create the world with them and for them, and make the imaginary world as believable as possible for them to react and engage with in a very real way.”
Out Friday and already renewed for a second season, “Home Before Dark,” (filmed in Vancouver), centers on the plucky kid-reporter Hilde, who investigates a local murder case after her family moves from Brooklyn to her father’s Pennsylvania hometown. But Matt is also grappling with a dark incident from his past.
“My character has huge trouble dealing with his past. Something very traumatic happened to him at a young age,” says Sturgess. Abby Miller plays his onscreen wife, Bridget.
“For many years, he buried that trauma, and I think he’s suffering a great deal from PTSD,” he says. “And so to go back to the hometown which he grew up in is a hugely traumatic and stressful experience for him.
“The show deals with a young kidnapping and an abduction that happens,” he says. “[Matt] is not a perfect parent by any means. The family has their ups and downs, but predominantly you feel and know that there’s a lot of love between them all.”
Sturgess says that working with his child co-star was a big draw.
“When this came along, to be a dad with a family and the dynamic between a man and his daughter was at the forefront of the story — I was really excited for that,” he says. “And just to know that it was going to be working with Brooklynn. I’d seen her in ‘The Florida Project,’ and like most people who saw that film, I was excited about her performance and her onscreen presence.”
But of course, even the most professional child actors are still kids.
“That was the constant reward and the challenge at the same time,” says Sturgess. “It’s important that they enjoy the work, because they work hard. They’re so professional and brilliant, but they are also 8 years old and they need a lot of attention, which is so much fun. It brings so much joy to the whole set, the whole crew and cast have to be part of that.
“Me and Brooklynn made up loads of stupid songs together,” he says. “We had emotional power ballads, raps and all out rock anthems. We also constantly made up crazy handshakes.”
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