TOO CLOSE: INTERVIEW WITH EMILY WATSON
Phycological thriller starring Emily Watson as dedicated forensic psychiatrist, Emma Robertson, who is assigned to work with Connie Mortensen, a wife and mother accused of a despicable crime. Her assessment of the ‘yummy mummy monster’s’ sanity will determine whether Connie faces life in jail, life in a secure psychiatric hospital, or the chance of rehabilitation and release.
Too Close begins Monday 12th April at 9pm on ITV.
Press Interview with Emily Watson
Q: How did you become involved with Too Close? “I have been a friend of the writer and screenwriter Clara Salaman for a very long time. I first read this before the original book was published. It’s always a slightly nerve-wracking moment when a friend says, ‘I’ve written something. Would you read it?’ But it was a really interesting read. Soon after that the production company Snowed-In op9oned it for the screen. So, I’ve been with it from the get-go. “It felt like the right moment for Too Close. It’s quite a self-contained piece driven by two very interesting women and it caught the flavour of the moment. It came to the screen pretty quickly. It’s the sort of stuff I love. Absolutely character-driven. That minutiae of examining the mind.”
Q: Who is Emma? “Emma is a forensic psychiatrist and the very best at what she does. It takes an astonishing amount of 9me to become that qualified and to have that specialism. She has a great depth of knowledge and experience. But also, a very troubled inner life because of what has happened in her past. Her marriage is s9ll intact but that has destroyed it from the inside. Her encounter with Connie is a catalyst for all of that to open up and come crashing around her ears.
“Emma is very self-contained. She hasn’t dealt with something that happened in her past.
“Obviously as a psychiatrist she knows all of the right things to say to herself. But the actual unbelievable, horrendous, crushing guilt is still fully there and she has just covered it over.
“She doesn’t feel she deserves to be happy. She doesn’t feel she deserves love or passion. All of those things that were once there before. Her relationship with her husband has suffered. Emma cannot allow herself to be happy and enjoy life. “When all of this starts to explode inside her and she reconnects to her past, she goes to a party and remembers what it was like not to be guilty. Not being burdened. To be free.”
Q: What is her job in terms of dealing with Connie (Denise Gough)? “Connie has committed a very serious crime. Emma is in charge of her psychiatric care. It’s also her job to assess what Connie’s state of mind was at the moment she drove her car off that bridge. It’s a question of piecing together what has happened to her in the lead up to that moment.
“Connie claims she cannot remember anything at all about that night. Emma has to investigate whether she is suffering from dissociative amnesia. Which is like putting everything into a box and then burying the box because you can’t look at it. Through the process of their interviews the memories begin to come back.”
Q: How would you describe the relationship between Emma and Connie?
“Connie is a very sensitive and clever person. In another life these women would be equals. They would be friends. There’s something about the sort of psychotic state Connie has gone into that has made her immensely perceptive. She can immediately sense where Emma’s weaknesses are and starts to dig and probe.
“Emma is provoked by Connie and struggles to maintain her professional approach. Connie starts to uncover the rawness at Emma’s centre and their relationship goes way over that line. They become far ‘too close’. Emotionally intimate. And it’s very volatile and dangerous, but within that Emma eventually makes some progress with Connie.”
Q: Did you feel the need to do any of your own research?
“I spoke to a woman, Sarah Hewitt, who does exactly what Emma does and she was a consultant on the script. I talked to her about the job, how she worked with people and what she does. How she talked to them. That was fascinating. I was limited in the sense of what we could do in terms of visiting anywhere. Obviously, you can’t visit these places in normal times, but we also had the Covid-19 restrictions. That research was really interesting.”
Q: Connie asks Emma, ‘Why aren’t the streets full of wrecked people?’ Was that a line that resonated with you making this drama during the pandemic?
“I walk around the park at the moment and I think probably everyone you see is in some kind of a crisis. Whether it’s an emotional crisis, financial crisis, grief or whatever. Everybody is trying to manage a pretty unmanageable situation in lockdown, especially if you’ve got kids and all that.
“You really do have to take steps to safeguard your mental health and that of your children. If you don’t do it, it’s very obvious what a quick slippery slope that can lead to.”