GRACEPOINT: David Tennant, Cast And Execs Talk Changes, Guns And Accents At The TCA Press Tour

David Tennant appeared at the TV Critics Association Summer Press Tour today on the panel for his new drama series Gracepoint. Fellow panel members at the event at the Beverly Hilton, Beverly Hills, California included executive producers Dan Futterman and Carolyn Bernstein and cast members Virginia Kull, Michael Peña, Jacki Weaver, Kevin Rankin, Jessica Lucas and Kevin Zegers. It had been planned also for Nick Nolte to attend but sadly the veteran actor had to pull out.

Gracepoint is based on the UK TV series Broadchurch, created by Chris Chibnall, who wrote the opening episode of the American remake. Like Broadchurch, Gracepoint follows the aftermath of the murder of a young boy in a sleepy coastal town, here located in Northern California, close to the Oregon border. And like Broadchurch the identity of the killer will be unveiled at the end of Gracepoint – but Broadchurch fans should be wary of thinking that they know what is going to happen.

Early questions to the panel of course concerned the similarities between Gracepoint and Broadchurch. It can be difficult for remakes to find their identity, and comments about early episodes have suggested that it appears to be a shot for shot remake of the original. The executive producers explained that the opening of Broadchurch was so perfect they didn’t want to break what was already working.
“First order of business was, don’t screw up what works,” said showrunner Dan Futterman.

However, although the first two episodes are going to be very similar to the original series, it will take its own road from the third or fourth episode.
“We promise that as the series continues it really diverges in significant ways from the original,” promises Shine America exec Carolyn Bernstein. But does that mean a different killer too?
“I don’t think you should rule anyone out as a suspect,”said Dan Futterman. “We end in a very different place.”
There’s also a chance for familiar Broadchurch characters to expand their roles in Gracepoint.

David Tennant was asked about the similarities and differences between his Gracepoint character Emmett Carver and his Broadchurch equivalent Alec Hardy. “They both look quite like me and they have similar heights,” he joked.
He wanted to be part of the remake, not, as rumours suggested – and he laughed aloud at the very suggestion – that he was contractually obliged to, but because he was drawn to the scripts. “I’m just touring the world doing different versions of Broadchurch,” he claimed. In actual fact, he initially only signed up for a single 8-episode series of Broadchurch, so the second series and the American remake have both been pleasant surprises. When he was asked if he was interested in taking part in Gracepoint he couldn’t say no. “What I can’t get enough of is good writing,” he explained. “If you start with a good script then you’re on to a winner.” The appeal was the different sensibilities he could bring to the work and the chance to get something exciting and new out of the same material.

Characters themselves grew out of his interactions with fellow actors, whichever “Rolls Royce of a cast” he is playing off. “"They feel different because of the circumstances of everyone around me... that creates a different set of circumstances to be in... It's the same character and yet it's not, it's the same but different... The relationship between Carver and Ellie Miller feels very different to Hardy and Ellie Miller. The spine of the story and the characters are the same, but there’s different flesh on the bones.” It helped too that he stayed in a different hotel to his fellow cast members and only looked Virginia Kull (Beth) in the eye for the first time when it came to do their big emotional scene. “The first take is the one that’s real. The danger is, after that, you’re chasing a reproduction,” he said.

Carver, unlike Hardy, is armed, which was a novelty for the actor.
“David got to carry a gun. He was very excited. We caught him sleeping with it,” joked Futterman. David hurriedly appealed to the journalists not to tweet that he likes sleeping with a gun. Was he diva-ish on set? “I asked that nobody looked me in the eye. And everyone has to refer to me as Admiral,” David laughed.

Carolyn Bernstein was full of praise for David, calling him a national treasure in the UK and fervently hoping that he would become better known in the USA through Gracepoint. His accent, she says, is great. “We haven’t had to loop a single word of David’s American accent,” she assured the press.

Michael Peña chipped in, ”My American accent kinda sucks.”

“I’ll give you some tips,” offered David.

Dan Futterman added, to David’s consternation, that his mother had tried to watch Broadchurch but hadn’t been able to understand a word.

Futterman also hinted that a second series of Gracepoint is possible should this one be successful. But would David Tennant be back?

“If I make it even to the end of Gracepoint season 1, who knows,” he teased.

Gracepoint premieres on Fox on Thursday 2nd October at 9pm/8c. It will also be airing in Canada on Thursday nights on the Global Network. It is expected that ITV in the UK will confirm that they will be airing the series on one of their channels this autumn too.

Read more about Gracepoint on our website.