“Gorgeous, fleshed-out female characters – such a basic thing to ask for, isn’t it?”: Charlie Murphy, Richard Armitage, Indira Varma and Rish Shah on Obsession
It seems the erotic thriller is back in vogue. The key difference in 2023? We are revisiting the genre from a female perspective. The source material for new Netflix mini-series Obsession, Josephine Hart’s 1991 novel Damage, although penned by a female author, told its story of a steamy affair between a woman and the father of her fiancée from the male perspective. The 1992 film adaptation, starring Jeremy Irons, Juliette Binoche and Miranda Richardson, then reproduced that perspective.
But now, screenwriter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has reimagined the same story but filling out the female protagonist to be a three-dimensional character with her own wants, needs and motivations. Married directing duo Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros D’Sa have further brought authenticity to the portrayal of the complex relationship dynamics at play and, with the aide of intimacy coordinator Adelaide Waldrop, served up some explicit and BDSM-infused sex scenes that nonetheless put female pleasure and the power Anna is able to wield over William front and centre, ensuring all the while that aspects such as nudity parity are upheld.
The Upcoming had the chance to chat with the show’s four leads to discuss the making of the Hitchcockian noir series and its themes. Charlie Murphy and Richard Armitage discussed their roles as Anna and William and praised the adaptation for its even perspective and fleshed-out female characters, appreciating the lack of clear-cut heroes and villains. They also talked about the intimate scenes and working with an intimacy coordinator, which made them feel more comfortable and allowed them to focus on their acting. They reflected on how the series explores questions of morality, happiness and challenging societal norms, with both actors hoping that it will encourage viewers to be less judgmental about others’ life choices.
Rish Shah and Indira Varma also discussed their roles as Anna’s fiancee and William’s wife, with Varma highlighting how Anna is in charge of the dynamic with William. They both praised the strong female presence behind the scenes, which helped create a more empowering environment on-set. Varma also touched on how the show focuses on power dynamics and relationships, making it more interesting than the typical love triangle. They also discussed the benefits of working with an intimacy coordinator, which made intimate scenes more comfortable and allowed them to focus on the emotional connections between characters.
Obsession is released on Netflix on 13th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Obsession here: