Servant is the latest of Apple TV+’s high profile releases, produced by M. Night Shyamalan and is now . The thriller revolves around a television reporter (Lauren Ambrose) who loses a child, and the way she and her husband (Toby Kebbell) cope with their grief. But beyond that, of course, mysterious events begin to take place when the couple let a young woman into their home to care for a doll that Dorothy believes is her living son.
Ambrose and Kebbell sat down with Screen Rant and shared their experiences working on set, especially as the set consisted of just one house for nearly the entire season.
One thing that struck me about Servant is that, just as it’s about the different complicated dynamics in the house, the house itself feels like a character. What was it like for you both to film almost exclusively on one set?
Toby Kebbell: Beautiful.
Lauren Ambrose: It was fantastic. It was such a gift to have those constrictive walls. We’re all four characters trapped in one location for basically the whole the whole thing.
Toby Kebbell: Beautiful sets, though. Really beautiful. The kitchen worked; running water; gas when you need it. And great crew taking care of everything. Poor Brandon [Tyler, an on-set dresser]. Do you remember Brandon having to clean? Brandon’s making sure the set’s the same, but he’s basically cleaning the whole house all the time.
Lauren Ambrose: But the house, in its perfection, gets to be so intense. It feels like the walls are gonna come down because of all of these crazy energies that are inhabiting it. And I think, in our best moments, it felt like a play. Every word was important, yeah.
Toby Kebbell: The house felt sturdy, didn’t it? It’s something you can rely on.
Except for when it’s stabbing you.
Toby Kebbell: Exactly. Except for when it’s stabbing you in the butt. But it was such a study place, that you can feel rest assured…
Lauren Ambrose: Literally, it was a historic Philadelphia brownstone that was recreated on this massive soundstage. So, every detail – down to the dovetail joints and gorgeous tubs and wallpaper – every detail was considered.
Speaking of the crazy energies in the house, we have your dynamic, which is a really interesting reversal of the usual archetype. Working mom, stay at home dad. But then you both also have diametrically opposed views of Leanne at first. What is it like navigating all those different relationships?
Toby Kebbell: That’s the joy of the performance. It’s like you’re telling your own story. That was what was so nice about Night; Night said that at the beginning. You forget, and Lauren said it so beautifully, when you watch the episode. “Oh, that’s how it meshes together.”
Lauren Ambrose: I did say that beautifully.
Did you get the scripts all at once, or did you have to find out the mystery piece by piece?
Lauren Ambrose: Yeah, that was the really luxurious part of it; receiving all nine scripts pretty much up front. So, we knew where we were headed and where we’re going as a company.
And where we going?
Lauren Ambrose: Well, I mean, in this season we know where we were going. And we got to rehearse and work together before we shot anything, and [got to] be in the house. Inhabit it and get to know each other.
Toby Kebbell: And even though there were different directors for episodes, Night was always there. We always had him come in, pop in and check in. We were solid.
Servant is now streaming on Apple TV+