British comedy duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunited to co-create and star in the Amazon Prime show TRUTH SEEKERS, which follows Gus (Frost) and his new partner Elton (Samson Kayo) as they investigate and document paranormal occurrences. Pegg is featured as Gus’s boss, while the main cast also includes Emma D’Arcy, Malcolm McDowell, Susie Wokoma and Julian Barratt. Blending humor and horror, TRUTH SEEKERS takes on any and all ghosts they come across, including some that seem hauntingly familiar.
For the premiere of TRUTH SEEKERS, I attended a roundtable interview where I spoke with actor Julian Barratt, who plays Dr. Peter Toynbee, about working with old friends and how he balanced the show’s different tones.
Was there anything that really surprised you about working on this series?
Julian Barratt: Obviously, working with Nick, you know, and Simon, so, I wasn’t allowed to look in their eyes on set. We were told not to look at Simon in the eyes because he’s a bigshot Hollywood guy now, so you have to sort of not look at them in the eyes; you can look at Nick in a mirror, but not directly, so I had to have a mirror, a small mirror, to look at him. Obviously, that was surprising, and that’s a joke.
Working with Nick… it was just a dream come true, to be honest, not to be too much of a sort of wanky actor. I love horror, I love comedy, I love what they’ve done in their careers and the idea of being involved in that, there was just no downsides as far as I [could] see.
Seeing Malcolm McDowell close up is quite something to behold, just to witness this sort of icon that is Malcolm McDowell in your vicinity. I mean, you can’t help but just be slightly starstruck by someone like that; whereas I know Nick and Simon, I’ve known them for a long time, so much as they are obviously heroes of mine, I’ve seen them in the real life so I wasn’t surprised. That said, I was surprised by how Nick was very deft and almost erotic in his charisma, so there was an erotic energy, especially in my scenes with Nick. I don’t know if you noticed it, but we were very, very… there’s a real erotic chemistry between us. And that was surprising. That’s the end of that answer.
Did you have any difficulty with your character, given that on one hand, this is a horror-sci-fi show, but on the other, it’s so rooted in humanity; so when you were kind of tackling that what were your thoughts?
Julian Barratt: You don’t want to overintellectualize it when you’re an actor. Basically they cast you, and if they’ve cast it right, they’ve done most of their work because casting is 90% of the whole thing. You go and get the right person, and you only just have to nudge people in the right direction, I suppose. So hopefully they cast correctly when they got me. Then it’s a matter of just, they knew my instinct comedically and then they would just say “OK, we don’t want this to be too… flamboyant in this way,” or “we want this to actually be a bit more scary,” so you just sort of nudge it this way or that way once you’re on track. That’s the thing you want to maintain, a believability in an unbelievable situation, which is the sort of horror situation. So, there’s a central idea which is not natural but then you want to make the performances within that believable, in order for it to be scary, otherwise it jumps you out of the piece, I suppose. And that’s the thing, you’ve got to try to get the balance right, otherwise it stops being scary if you’re jolted out of the reality of it. That’s the thinking behind it, but when you’re acting it either works or it doesn’t… You can talk a lot about something, but really you just have to get up there and try it out and then sort of shift it when it doesn’t work and encourage it when it does.
TRUTH SEEKERS is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.