NYCC 2019: A Night With M. Night And Servant

by Gary Catig

Film maker, M. Night Shyamalan, has made a significant impact in pop culture through the stories he tells. Ever since The Sixth Sense twenty years ago to this year’s Glass, he has been entertaining audiences. Thursday evening, at New York Comic Con, there was a spotlight panel on him and his upcoming series on Apple TV+, Servant.

The first half of the talk was a look back at Shyamalan’s career. He spent a long time perfecting his craft with 45 short films and an unsuccessful Miramax movie before breaking through with The Sixth Sense. Having been in the industry so long, he finds that he works better with younger and newer people to the industry. Their hunger and fresh ideas they bring help him evolve his craft.

Besides his guest starring role on This Is Us, he hasn’t worked in TV since Wayward Pines. He felt Servant was a good opportunity to make his return. This season, he directed two episodes.

Shyamalan felt a connection to Apple because of their aesthetics and minimalism and felt it was a great opportunity to break new ground at the tech company’s streaming service. One novel aspect of the show is it’s run time. Most thrillers are hour long dramas while Servant will run 30 minutes like sitcoms.

Servant is a contained story about a specific couple in a specific location. The story takes place solely in the couple’s home. At the panel, they premiered the trailer for the show revealing key components of the plot.

[*Minor Spoilers!]

Sean (Toby Kebell) and Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose) are undergoing fringe therapy to help cope with a tragic loss of their child. They have a doll surrogate that they treat like their baby that passed away. Dorothy takes it a step further by hiring a nanny to take care of the doll (This is even before a customary Shyamalan twist!).

In comes Leanne Grayson (Nell Tiger Free), the enigmatic young woman who turns things upside down. She is the big question mark in the house and the mythology of the character is slowly revealed as the series progresses.

The cast is rounded out by Rupert Grint, who plays Julian Pierce. He is Sean’s brother in law and partner in crime. Grint describes him as brash, outspoken and builds the façade that he is good in a crisis. However, when Leanne joins the family, her presence brings out his vulnerability.

Food is a common theme during the series with Sean being a chef. Kebell even attended culinary school to make his cooking scenes realistic. Food can also provide nourishment and brings family together. The latter half of the panel was even conducted at a table set up with a Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving is pertinent time since Servant is set to release on November 28.

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