We catch up with Aussie actress Frances O’Connor, who plays devastated mother Emily Huges in BBC First’s new drama, The Missing. Find out more about the show and how she got into character.
What is The Missing about?
The story takes place over a period of eight years. At the start, a husband and wife and their young child are on their way to a holiday in France. During this vacation, an event takes place and their son goes missing. The rest of the series is about the trajectory and implications of that incident.
How would you describe Emily?
Emily is someone who evolves during the story. The person she is at the end is quite different from who she is at the beginning, which is fantastic for an actor. At the start, she’s someone who has led quite a protected life, and she’s a sensitive person. As the story progresses, and because of what’s happened, she gains a lot of strength.
How did you prepare for this role?
Because I’m a mother, I instantly related to the story. I did a bit of research about what it’s like for people whose children have gone missing, but I really just had to use my imagination. It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, so I found it pretty easy to access the necessary emotions.
What has it been like to shoot this series?
It’s been a hard shoot, in that there are so many difficult, emotional scenes with really tricky subject matter. But, the atmosphere on set has been great. You feel from the crew that they’re telling a story that interests them and they believe in it. As we’ve started shooting, a momentum has built and people really enjoy watching on set. Shooting in Brussels is great as it’s really nice to be in a different part of Europe. When we shoot out in Huy, in the town exteriors, you feel that what’s happening is real because you’re in a real location.
How is this show unique?
The storytelling is really clever and really sharp, which you can feel when you’re playing it. There are multiple strands to the story that are very cleverly interwoven. It’s quite sophisticated storytelling and I think the audience will enjoy watching that.
What are you hoping the audience gets from it?
It’s a great story with two timelines, and people are so radically different in each timeline. I think audiences will enjoy slowly filling in the gaps in terms of why people have changed so much and what’s happened. The characters are great too – Tony is very human and I think people will really relate to him and root for him to find his child.
How has this story personally affected you?
Having to imagine what it would be like to lose a child has been really hard. Because we’re shooting for 20 weeks, you’re in that subject matter for a long time. But, the scripts are so good that I really wanted to go there because of the great storytelling.
The Missing airs on Wednesday 13 January 2016 at 8pm on BBC First, DStv Channel 119.