In the third episode of AMC’s The Night Manager, Roper (Hugh Laurie) decided to trust Pine (Tom Hiddleston), and Pine began to spy on Roper in earnest — as did Roper’s love, Jed (Elizabeth Debicki), who now wants to learn what Roper really does for a living. Executive producer Stephen Garrett talked with Yahoo TV about the potential new alliance, how Hiddleston gets into character, and “ZitterZatter.”
We’re beginning to see more of Jed now that Pine’s in Roper’s world. What’s the key to understanding her?
Just to compare her with the Jed from the novel, in the novel, she’s British and a kind of superficial, middle-class girl preoccupied with her place in society. By making her American… I think America has this wonderful, much more class-less society, and the opportunity for people who were, as Jed was in the backstory we’ve given her, born on the wrong side of the tracks. She has an opportunity to make this amazing trajectory through society, with Roper’s help.
I think he acquired her as a trophy, as arm and eye candy. But I think he discovered in Jed someone so much more interesting, resourceful, and intelligent. It’s almost like an arranged marriage: They have grown to feel something for one another, when it’s almost certain that when they met, they had no idea who the other was. They have been through this remarkable, and surprising to both of them, education. There is a strange mutual respect and something that at times probably is love.
You feel that, to some extent, she’s made this deal with the devil and sold her soul in order to invent herself as the person she wants to be. You’ve already seen in it episode 2, this incredible sense of someone who’s a creation partly of herself and partly of Roper. That creation is someone who is invulnerable, which is why just being seen physically naked is a matter of indifference to her. She knows she’s a thing of beauty, and that’s why she’s where she is and with who she is. Seeing her cry [as Pine does] is like opening a window into her soul, and that’s something that she wants to protect at all costs.
There’s that great moment when she tries — and fails — to get Pine to go swimming with her where she tells him that one day he’ll live a little. What do you think he makes of Jed at this point?
Again, it’s interesting, there’s a subtle difference: In the book, he’s initially very dismissive of her. He’s mean to her, rude to her, thinks she is just essentially a high-end hooker. To some extent, that’s closer to the way that she’s portrayed in the book. I think what you see in our version is a slow appreciation on his part that she isn’t just a gangster’s moll; that she’s a really interesting, complex, nuanced woman in her own right. You can see it in that moment that you just described, when she disrobes and walks into the sea, that he is strangely drawn to her, and it’s not just her physical attractions.
Another great sequence in this episode is Jonathan breaking into Roper’s office. How do you create that kind of suspense on set?
We did ask Tom to have in his head a ticking clock. He really is to race against time. You’ve got a window of a minute to do what he needed to do. What’s interesting about Tom’s process — and I don’t know what piece of music he chose — is he actually plays movie soundtracks or favorite pop, rock, classical tracks according to the mood he’s trying to create for himself. It’s almost certain that just before doing that [scene], he’d have played himself some music that created that right sense, for him, of tension, jeopardy, and menace. It really works. It’s very interesting to watch him. He’ll often put his music away just before the camera starts to roll, and he’s in the zone.
Pine sends the documents he snaps photos of to his handler Angela Burr (Olivia Colman) through “ZitterZatter.“
The trouble with those things is you end up just having to find a name that doesn’t exist anywhere on the planet so you can’t be sued for breach of copyright. The names are often not necessarily ridiculous, but slightly improbable. They’re improbable because no one else in the real world is actually using it. The same is true of the name for Roper’s company. We had other names for companies, and we’d have ended up libeling real companies by suggesting that they were in fact offshoots of Roper’s empire. Those two have to feel right and real, but actually not exist at all in the real world.
Pine also catches a big break when Sandy’s wife, Caroline (Natasha Little), decides to tell Pine all about Roper’s next deal.
What we needed to do — I suppose it’s for the audience to decide whether that comes off — is to create enough of a history between Pine and Caroline, and just glances really, just a sense of an understanding that each of them has some hint of a suspicion that there may be chinks in the other’s armor. When she invites him to rub sunscreen into her back and says, “Don’t worry, I won’t sleep with you,” there’s a little crack through which Pine can breach her armor, and he can see her vulnerability. But, as they say, putting pebbles along the path to that moment is a very delicate situation. It’s something we talked about a lot in both the script-writing process and the editing.
The Night Manager airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on AMC. Come back to Yahoo TV after each episode for another postmortem with executive producer Stephen Garrett.