The season 1 part 1 finale preview video has been shared online, with the most we have seen of Tom Riley's character Augustus Bidlow to date! There is a fabulous interview with production designer Gemma Jackson, who reveals some fascinating insight into how they created The Nevers.
HBO shared a new video with The Nevers cast revealing their secret super powers. Tom Riley apparently makes a fantastic omelette. Collider shared a great new interview with Tom Riley and James Norton, discussing their characters and The Nevers series.
Collider: When this project came your way, how much were you told about what it would be? There’s all of these story threads and characters, things to explore, and this blend of genres, but were you told much about how this would evolve?
TOM RILEY: We had the first script and promises.
JAMES NORTON: We didn’t have very much. We had the pilot and the conversations we had with Joss [Whedon], but generally it was not much. And actually, the way it worked throughout the shoot was that it was on a need to know basis. If character didn’t know a fact, then you weren’t told it. Joss would trickle in these tantalizing bits of information as we went, so it was exciting. But being someone isn’t Touched, Hugo has this storyline that’s slightly isolated from the orphanage and there was a lot of stuff, which I found very late on. There’s stuff I still don’t know about the next stage, which is great. It’s exciting to learn as you go.
Tom, with your character not only being Touched, but it being a secret from everybody else, how much more has the character ultimately turned out to be, than you thought he would be?
RILEY: I knew from the first episode. When I originally had my first ever discussion about the character, Joss did say, “This is where he’s going. This is his journey.” It’s incredible arc that’s so exciting. Has this power, but the power is gonna become more and more. As the episodes progress, he’s gonna control it more and what he can do with it. He’s spent so much time meek and just studying birds through his binoculars and through a window, and now he can suddenly be a part of it and take control of it. It’s gonna fundamentally change the way he sees the world.
James, do you feel like Hugo Swann is someone who acts out of arrogance, out of bravado or out of insecurity, or is it all of the above?
NORTON: There’s a tantalizing hint at the history of his family, which we’ve obviously unpacked to a certain extent with Joss. His father is very sick and his brother died under dubious circumstances, perhaps even related to Hugo, himself. There’s a lot of trauma and complication. A lot of that comes from being the second son in that quite pressurized environment of entitlement. The way those old boarding schools would that churn out these colonial machines, these soldiers, is complicated. So Hugo has got a lot of baggage. As you go deeper into that therapy space, at the front of it all is just a self-serving man who has an insatiable appetite for everything – booze, food, sex, drugs. He just is a consumer of it. He just takes and does what he wants. That does come from arrogance and bravado and appetite. It’s fun, to a certain extent, because we all fantasize and speculate about what it would be like to get in touch with the darker subversive side, and Hugo does that shamelessly. Obviously, there are people who pay those consequences and he’s got a lot to answer for. He’s a dangerous man, as well. There’s a lot going on there.
Would you say that Hugo and Augie are genuinely friends, or is there just no one else for them to be friends with?
RILEY: Both. I think they are genuinely good friends while, at the same time, not having the richest pickings to go to for other friends. They come from the same class, the same background, the same school. They understand the world that they both move in and inhabit, but they’re just very, very different people. I believe that they love each other.
NORTON: They compliment each other, as well. As I get older, I realize that really great relationships, whether it be romantic or friendship, are often based on difference and what you learn from the other person. I think Augie and Hugo represent one another’s shadows. They bring each other out of their comfort zones and they challenge each other. As a result, they both find each other intriguing. That’s the basis of great relationships. So, I think there is a real love there and a genuine affection and a protectiveness, particularly from Hugo to Augie.
James, when you find yourself in a scene where you’re having to lick a woman’s foot, how do you do that without laughing?
NORTON: They cut the bit where I really went for the toes. Sadly, they thought it was too much. Part of the character is just breaking down all boundaries and anything goes. It’s fun because you just go in and be a yes person. Every time the direct says, “Do you reckon that maybe you could strip off and have a shower, wash yourself in every part, and then go and have sex?,” I’m like, “Yes, of course,” because that’s Hugo. You’ve just gotta embrace it. I do find it really seductive because I’m British and therefore am probably quite repressed. There’s a lot of life, where I wish I was far more charismatic and just lived abandon like Hugo does. It’s fun to walk onto a set and get a little taste of it. That shower scene is so funny because the two of you are having a normal conversation while you’re surrounded by naked women.
What was that like to shoot? How do you work out the dynamics of a scene like that?
RILEY: That was a big day and it was a set build. We were on sets and it was super hot in the studio. The way the industry has progressed in the last few years, there was an intimacy coordinator on set and everyone was making sure that everyone was taken care of, at all times. Any time there was ever any nudity or anyone was uncomfortable or cold was only when the camera was rolling. In that moment, for me, as this character who gets to be [surprised] every time he’s surrounded by that stuff, it was fine. I can’t speak for James, who has to look completely comfortable with that sort of thing, but he was chatting to everyone and making everyone feel at ease, and making sure that everyone felt comfortable and safe.
NORTON: HBO are wonderful and Joss was wonderful, in making sure that everyone felt comfortable. We had intimacy coordinators and safeguards in place to make sure that no one felt pressured into doing anything they didn’t wanna do. Once you spin it and it feels really positive and a fun, exciting, energized place to be, that really imbues the scene in a wonderful way. We had these contortionists and these burlesque dancers and circus performers who are at the top of their game and the best out there, doing their act. We were very lucky. It was a sensual, visual feast, all day. The scene itself was very fast and we did a lot of it in one take, so it was all about timing. That was really fun because, if you can get it right, it’s the most satisfying. It’s a real buzz.
Tom, how does Augie feel about actually being Touched?
RILEY: I don’t think he knows. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to feel. That latent feeling of the beginnings of power in him is at odds with the fact that he should also feel shame because he believes it’s a feminine trait, or a trait of the marginalized or the underclass. What does that mean for him? Who does that mean he is? What will people say about him? How can he tell the people he cares about? There’s a really interesting dynamic in the internal wrestling match that’s going on between the potential of what he could do with this power and the misery it might bring him in his life, if he’s seen as other, which he’s terrified of being. He’s spent his entire life feeling like the other, but he’s been shielded from that by his privilege. He doesn’t like the idea that he’s suddenly gonna be exposed as being as other as he feels inside.
There’s something sad and tragic about him too, watching how he really lets Lavinia push him around and dictate who he should and shouldn’t have a relationship with. What is that dynamic like to play?
RILEY: The wonderful thing Olivia [Williams] is that she’s so warm in person and she’s surgical with lines. She can absolutely pin you and make you feel like, in those moments, you’re a fly on the wall and she’s just stuck a pin through you, which is great. It makes those moments very easy because they’re written in a way where I’m falling over lines and, at the same time, Olivia has absolutely no problem just cutting me dead, so that makes that very easy. And then, when it comes to Penance, Annie [Skelly] is such an incredibly warm, fun performer that you feel the joy and that he wants to be as free as she is. He’s so excited by her and how open she is about her obsession. He’s kept his birth thing a secret. He’s embarrassed by it. But she just cares so much about electricity and he’s very much drawn to someone who’s comfortable in their strangeness.
James, we really get a sense that Hugo is a character who’s keeping secrets and he’s manipulating some things. Will we have more of a sense of exactly what his plan is?
NORTON: Yes. There is some manipulation going on and there are some secrets, for sure. I don’t know how ambitious Hugo is. The script and the whole journey is so intriguing and unpredictable for us, with the characters and their journeys and the show at large. It turns on a sixpence, every episode that we read, so I don’t know. I imagine and can only expect that there’s gonna be some crazy storyline where he suddenly wants to take over the world. But right now, in the first six episodes, he’s very much obsessed with the club and the interests of the club. We’ll see. On the one hand, if you were to ask Hugo what the fuel is behind his mission and his life’s work, he’d say that he wants to create a space where he can do what he wants and sate his insatiable appetite. In that sense, his ambitions are endless and relatively small.
These sets seem incredible and unbelievably detailed. What was is it like to be in these environments?
NORTON: Yeah, the sets are amazing, particularly The Ferrymans Club. Anywhere Hugo has responsibility for the set, there was this insane amount of really naughty paraphernalia, and sex and drugs and things everywhere. It was great. It was really fun, with pictures on the walls and really inappropriate statues around. It was really funny.