British actress Emma Appleton, known for her role in ‘The Witcher,’ is acutely aware that her latest character, a hotshot barrister named Ingrid in the web series ‘The Killing Kind,’ isn’t entirely lovable.
In the moody psychological thriller, which is available on TOD TV in the UAE, Appleton portrays a young woman who is unapologetically career-driven and doesn’t bat an eyelid when representing an alleged stalker, John Webster, effectively played by Northern Irish actor Colin Morgan.
She tears into Webster’s girlfriend in court, pushing her to question her claims against her toxic, but handsome boyfriend and her version of events, with an uneasy fierceness and alacrity.
Did we mention that Ingrid also had a clandestine affair with her attractive stalker-client, John, while engaged to someone else?
In terms of questionable life choices, she’s a keeper. So, what compels Ingrid to make such poor decisions?
“I think that’s what makes her so relatable,” said Appleton in an interview with Gulf News.
“I believe we can all relate to making some bad choices, but at the time, you don’t realise it. Hindsight is a powerful thing, events just bounce off each other ... One poor decision sparks a chain of events and teaches you that there are consequences for your choices,” explained Appleton.
The model-turned-actress, whose credits include the hit BBC drama ‘Everything I Know About Love’ and Channel 4’s ‘Traitors’, claims it’s the flawed characters that appeal to her intrinsically as an artiste.
“I have a history of playing broad characters. I enjoy it because we, as human beings, are flawed. There’s no one out there that’s infallible. When you have characters that are not [flawed], you don’t really buy into them as much … Those faults make us relatable,” she added.
The executive producer of ‘The Killing Kind’ series, Paula Cuddy, was also on the same page in this joint interview.
“As a producer, you are looking for those really juicy premises … I was really drawn to the fact that this woman [Ingrid] was a defence lawyer, working and navigating the justice system, wanting to win. There’s also a big sort of ‘Fatal Attraction’, a nod to those great Hollywood movies, seen through an entertaining lens,” said Cuddy in the joint interview with Appleton.
She also describes ‘The Killing Kind’ as this highly entertaining roller-coaster of a thriller. The lead character isn’t wholly appealing or endearing, but is interesting enough to make for some great pulpy television.
“But in its bedroom, it’s tethered by a relatable character. It’s a messed-up love story and we can all relate to that,” added Cuddy.
Reviews have labelled their series as the modern update of Glenn Close’s 1987 blockbuster thriller and cultural milestone, ‘Fatal Atrraction’.
Both Cuddy and Appleton embrace this comparison with open arms, even though it came as a pleasant surprise. The thriller series is based on the book of the same name by Jane Casey.
“It’s a huge compliment … I remember watching it [‘Fatal Attraction’] a really long time ago and honestly, it kind of never came up in my mind until I saw some people kind of putting it [,The Killing Kind,] in that world … Those films are absolutely iconic over time and still being talked about,” said Appleton.
‘Fatal Attraction’ and its multiple re-makes and TV show spin-offs have famously triggered dialogues around marriage, infidelity, and toxic relationships.
Even after 36 years, the steam around ‘Fatal Attraction’ and its problematic leads as a pair of seemingly sexy sociapaths hasn’t faded.
“Glenn Close is one of my favourite actors of all time ... Entertaining stories have, throughout time, always enabled us to make sense of who we are and the world we live in. … With Colin and Emma playing these roles, it allows you to have a thrilling ride, but also to reflect on your own personal experience and the conversations about the justice system,” said Cuddy.
But were was Appleton and Cuddy worried about being cancelled in today’s age of wokeness? After all, their series shows sparks flying between a seductive stalker and his lawyer. The series, as it progresses, could even be seen as perpetuating dangerous romantic ideologies.
But Cuddy isn’t worried.
“I am always looking for human truth and relatability. In the world that we live in, there’s a lot of interesting perspectives, judgements out there … When I started reading the book [Jane Casey’s novel] and the fact that there was a female character who was representing a man facing harassment charges felt like honest moments for me. I thought: ‘I don’t know if I like you, Ingrid, because of the job you do … But there are women out there who do that job … Ingrid cannot be a part of my sisterhood, but this is going to be dynamite contemporary TV,” explained Cuddy.
For Appleton, her approach is equally simple.
“I don’t have to be in love with my character, but I have to learn something about them to maybe understand them better. I have to understand why she does the things she does and why she makes those decisions.”
The first few episodes delve into how the onus is on John’s former girlfriend to prove that she was being stalked, controlled, and gaslit. In a telling cross-examination scene, Ingrid – in total control as a defence lawyer — breaks her down brutally and we see the victim sobbing and helpless.
“Ingrid has this magnificent character arc … The story of ‘The Killing Kind’ and its characters were nuanced. Plus, we got to shine a light on the legal system and what it’s like for women and men in some situations,” added Appleton. While her character of Ingrid was challenging to portray, the model-turned-actress has found a neat way to offset the trauma that could come with playing such a troubled role. Unlike actors who threw rocks out of their glass window out of sheer frustration (here’s looking at you, Nicole Kidman, while filming ‘Big Little Lies’), Appleton’s catharsis was relatively less complex.
“There was no actual rage. I was mainly tired and I would go home and put on some nice kind of comedy sitcom … Just have a bit of time off the grid or eat something delicious … I try to live a normal life after a trying day.” But it was all worth it.
Don’t Miss It!
‘The Killing Kind’ is streaming on TOD TV