“Surface”, a new Apple TV + thriller starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, explores the sensitive and chilling subjects of amnesia, guardianship and the loss of independence of women, explained to AFP the actors and the creator of the series.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, known for her roles on ‘The Morning Show’ and ‘Loki’, plays Sophie, a woman suffering from severe amnesia after what she is told was a suicide attempt.
The young woman tries to put the pieces of her life back together and is placed under the guardianship of her husband, whom she quickly suspects of hiding things from her about her old life. And Sophie wonders if he really has her best interests at heart.
Guardianship, a legal measure by which the judiciary puts the management of an individual’s finances, or even personal decisions, in the hands of a guardian, made headlines last year when popstar Britney Spears battled to have his canceled.
“At the time, questions around guardianship were really in tune with the times, but it was almost a coincidence,” said Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
“Even if Sophie’s journey is very particular in the series, the idea of the control of women and the fact that they can have their autonomy is for me a theme that is always very present in today’s world”, adds the actress.
As luck would have it, a scene in which Sophie confronts her husband, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, was shot on the same day that Britney Spears obtained in court the end of the financial guardianship imposed by her father.
“These power dynamics are always fertile for storytelling,” says Veronica West, creator and director of the series, which premieres Friday on Apple TV+ worldwide.
“This series has as its starting point the fundamental question + what would you do if you woke up one day and you no longer knew your own secrets?”, she explained.
When Sophie regains consciousness, “she only knows of her life what others tell her”.
“Even the people closest to her — her husband, her friends — all have ulterior motives” and try to “shape Sophie into whatever they want,” says Veronica West.
The creator says she was inspired by the twists and turns of classic film noir, such as the works of Alfred Hitchcock, to develop her plot, which takes place in San Francisco.
“I would never dare to compare it to + Cold Sweats + but we did try to put some winks and references”, smiles Veronica West.