Nothing is as it appears on the streets of San Francisco in Surface.
Ahead of the official release on Apple TV+, ComingSoon spoke to Stephan James about her role as Baden, a detective investigating Sophie’s mysterious past. The first three episodes of Surface will be released on July 29.
“Set in high-end San Francisco, Sophie, a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury that has left her with extreme memory loss, believed to be a result of a suicide attempt,” reads the synopsis. “As Sophie embarks on a quest to put the pieces of her life back together with the help of her husband and friends, she begins to question whether or not the truth she is told is in fact the truth she has lived.”
Watch the full interview here below.
Tudor Leonte: Your character, Baden, knows more than it appears at first. How did you manage to balance the necessity to tell Sophie the truth but respect the trauma and stress she’s been dealing with?
Stephan James: Yeah, I mean, it’s layered, right? It’s a very, very layered thing. Obviously, it’s a big credit to Veronica West and the rest of the writers for making sure that all these characters are fully realized. I think that despite the intentions that Baden may have come into this scenario with just a ‘normal case’ and a cop, there are certainly other things, other motivations that influence his actions thereafter. It’s a build, it’s definitely a build, and it’s a challenge in terms of what you want to give depending on the episode and then what you need to hold back to just preserve for the life of the show.
The only thing sure in Surface is that nothing is like it appears at first. How did you approach your character’s complicated relationship with Sophie and James?
James: I think a lot of it for me was on the page. Just being sort of in the middle of them, I think was always very fun for me. We always played on it, just in real life, just like the awkward dynamic that it was, Baden sort of being the third wheel. I feel like that shifts a little bit, the perspective shifts a little bit in the series where there’s just an interesting sort of duality, and at one point, the audience may be more in James’s favor at one point, the audience may be more in Baden’s favor. I just think we really got a kick out of that.
What was your favorite moment to shoot?
James: I would say my favorite moment takes place when James and Baden are able to really see each other for the first time when they are sort of locking in each other eye to eye, they both know sort of what they’re doing, and they both know something about each other that the other person doesn’t know, they know. I think it happens somewhere in episode five or, or six, but there’s a big standoff between James and Baden. That was probably my funniest moment to shoot.
Do you believe that people can assume different identities throughout their lives?
James: I don’t think it’s that farfetched at all. I think that people do certain things to assimilate, right? To fit in. They do certain things to forget. They do certain things to intentionally confuse people or be able to get people to a point that they’re able to manipulate them. I think that, again, Veronica [West] has done a great job of giving those elements to each one of our characters where there’s a human aspect of them where you know that their intentions are pure, but then there’s an aspect of, maybe there’s another motivation that’s leading them to do the things they’re doing. You’re constantly in this battle of what is going to take precedent in any moment, somebody’s real thoughts or somebody’s dark motivations.