Stella, played by McClure, is a Nottingham cab driver who's trying to manage her grief after her daughter Maisy was murdered years earlier.
Stella gets an opportunity to meet with Charles (Harris), the man convicted for killing her daughter. While initially resistant of the proposal from the Department of Restorative Justice, she eventually agrees to have the meeting.
Charles tells Stella about the night Maisy died, saying it all started with him wanting to steal her Range Rover when he saw the lights were off in her home.
"I wish I could change it but I can’t, and I regret that with everything that’s inside me Stella," Charles says. "I know you must feel the same, for leaving Maisy on her own that night."
After running out of the room, Stella returns to tell Charles, "I need you to tell me why you killed my daughter."
That's when things take a dark turn as Charles states that he didn't kill Maisy.
"Your daughter was already dead when I found her," he says. "I was sent there that night. The people who set me up, they’re still out there."
"There’s another girl from Millfield, she’s missing."
Stella is put in a position where she doesn't know if she can, or should, trust Charles, but she can't forget what Charles said, starting her off on a quest for the truth.
'I don't want them to feel hoodwinked or duped'
Without Sin is able to accomplish what makes a thriller truly enticing, which is leaving every possibility open. You're constantly questioning each character's next motive and move.
For Harris, he likened playing Charles to developing two different characters.
“I was coming from the perspective that if someone ever watches this back, I don't want them to feel hoodwinked or duped,” Harris said. “Once they know whether he is innocent or guilty, I'd like them to look back and go, ‘Oh, I can see it in the eyes.’”
“I wanted to make choices that really worked in both."
The actor went on to say that there was even a moment of debate about whether McClure should know if Charles is truly guilty, or innocent, but ultimately they decided against that.
'I'll never know what that feels like'
For McClure's role, she was given the task of portraying a woman that is dealing with one of the most heartbreaking and difficult situations anyone can go through, losing a child. In order to step into that character's headspace, the actor highlighted that she was given a lot of details in Frances Poletti's script, to start her process.
“Music is always a big part of my process, just being able to find an emotion through music is always really helpful," McClure said.
“I'll never know what that feels like. If you did all the research in the world, it doesn't mean you're going to have an understanding of a mother's grief. But I do know people that have lost children and I've seen them fight through that, in different ways. I think everybody will deal with that very differently in their own way, so there was nothing for me to compare it with. All I could do is just go for the gut, if you like."
'You don't need to fill the air all the time'
Some of the highlights of Without Sin are actually the moments when it's just McClure and Harris sitting across from each other at a table. The actors have a long friendship outside of their work history together, but in Without Sin they're able to make these intimate, stationary moments really emotionally and psychologically impactful.
McClure stressed that something she learned from working with people like This Is England's Shane Meadows (a series of projects she worked on alongside Harris) is that "sometimes doing nothing says an awful lot."
"When me and Johnny work together as well, there's lots of space," McClure said. "You don't need to fill the air all the time because we don't as human beings, we're not constantly doing or chatting, or whatever."
"Sometimes doing and saying nothing is actually way more powerful than filling it with a dramatic cry or a big fight, or something like that.”
Harris added that the impact of the silent moments in the series is "ultimately about finding the truth."
“The best advice I ever got as a young actor was, you hit your mark and you find the truth,” Harris said. “That's very different things on different days but ultimately, a lot of that comes down to whoever's sitting opposite you and what they're giving you.”
“The idea of it being contained, very, very intimate. It's in a prison visiting room and so even the volume of your voice, all those little details like that, it's ultimately all in the eyes. Even what these people say verbally to each other is restricted. So I knew if ever you're going to play that, you better hope that the person opposite is bringing something to the table. I just knew that there was going to be no one that was going to bring more."
McClure and Harris are absolutely gripping in Without Sin. Operating under quite a somber tone, fitting for the subject matter, the twists hit you hard as you work your way through the ever-changing details of this brutal crime.