David Tennant On Returning To Broadchurch On BBC America For The Last Time

Tonight sees the return of Broadchurch to American screens for one final chapter.
David Tennant, who plays DI Alec Hardy in the drama spoke to Parade.com ahead of the first episode airing..

Alec Hardy is a character that you’re fond of. What was it like to get the first script for Season 3 and know it was the beginning of the end?

I don’t think you think of it like that. Actors are so used to going from job to job, that, I think, when you’ve got a four or five-month shoot stretching out in front of you, you’re not thinking about the end. You’re just thinking about, “Oh, this is what I’m doing for the next little while.”

We’re quite fickle creatures, so you’re just thinking about the script in front of you and where the story’s going to go, and we had no idea what the plan was.

Olivia and my characters could just as easily be on the mortician’s slab by the end of the series as heading off into new adventures. We didn’t know what the final outcome was going to be. So you just kind of go, “It’s exciting to be back doing this job that we love and playing these characters that we’re so fond of.”

I don’t think I was thinking about the end when I got that first script. That probably came a bit further down the line. Maybe when I got the final script.

So where do we find Hardy when we come back? How much time has passed, and where’s his head at?

We’re a couple of years down the line. Hardy’s in a slightly different position, and we sort of unpack that as the episodes go on, but he’s back in Broadchurch. He’s back doing his old job, and in some ways, he seems to have made peace with that. He seemed to have decided that Broadchurch is where he’s supposed to be. He’s not quite reeling against it with the enthusiasm that he once was. He’s still a miserable old grump a lot of the time, but he’s found a…peace would be putting it too strongly.

But he’s resigned to what his life is and to where he is, and Ellie and he, I think, are in a slightly more comfortable place. I think they’ve accepted that they are probably the closest thing the other one will have to a best friend and certainly the person that the other most relies on. They’re both quite damaged by the events that we’ve seen them go through. They’re human beings that have taken quite a few knocks, and they find a kind of comfort in each other. They’re both people who’ve been defined by the events that happened to them.

And they’ve come to rely on each other, and come to trust each other in a way that they don’t really trust anyone else. That’s obviously a very different situation to when we first met them when they were very nervous or very dismissive of each other. In a way, they’re almost celebrating each other’s differences now, although they’ll still carp and snip at each other quite happily, but they’re more of sort of an old married couple now than battling colleagues.

For the audience anyway, this is such a great partnership to watch. What do you think it is about them that we love so much?

I think they’re opposite, aren’t they, in many ways? Ellie is all emotion and instinct, and Hardy is all intellect and protocol. He has an emotional detachment to him, which he wishes Ellie could learn from, and she despairs of his coldness and his officiousness. I think they complement each other in as much as they also rub up against each other.

I guess that’s quite a classic sort of double act thing, isn’t it? But I think we both know people like Hardy and Ellie, and to an extent, we can probably identify ourselves or part of ourselves in either one or both of them. So they’re very brilliantly created characters by Chris Chibnall, and they’ve been a great joy to play. I love the fact that people seem to look on them so fondly, because I certainly do, and I think it’s nice to see them having another story to tell.

The case this season deals with sexual abuse instead of murder, and Hardy has his daughter Daisy (Hannah Rae) living with him, so this case seems to really hit him harder.

Well, it personalizes it for him, I think. Yeah, without a doubt. The idea that there might be a serial rapist on the streets of Broadchurch, and he has brought his daughter to Broadchurch, of course, that’s something that’s going to feel particularly poignant for him, and it’s something that he’ll be keenly aware of. I think he also struggles with the fact that he can’t quite get inside the head of a man who does this. This is something that, throughout the season, he kind of rails against it.

He feels impotent to understand that psychology, and for him, he finds that very difficult and frustrating, so, yes, of course it’s more personal when his daughter might be under threat, and he’s struggling with being a parent, and he’s struggling with how to be a mother and a father to a teenage girl. It’s not something that comes easily, so all of that is part of his engine through the story, definitely.

You mentioned he can’t get inside this guy’s head. It made me wonder, Hardy tries to get inside the skin of the criminals, their minds, and as an actor, you need to get inside the skin of your character. So is that aspect of Hardy really relatable?

Yeah, of course. I think that’s inevitably what you do, isn’t it? That’s the job, I guess. That you’re trying to find the reality, tell a story that people will recognize, create a character that people will identify with. That’s always what you’re doing, and you’re just trying to make sense of the way someone will react in a variety of situations. Yes, it’s a similar thing. It’s trying to understand a human being’s psychology so that you can second guess it from a policeman’s point of view, so that you can guess what they might do next or what they might have done on the night in question from an actor’s point of view, so that you can tell that story as truthfully and recognizably as possible, but yeah, there’s definitely an overlap.

With Broadchurch behind you, what’s next that American audiences might see?

There’s the movie You, Me and Him that, hopefully, will come out later this year, and then I’ve also done a movie called Bad Samaritan, which are very different. You, Me and Him is a rom-com, really, a very modern romantic comedy, and Bad Samaritan is a psychological horror-thriller. So they’re two very different projects, which should be coming out maybe even next year now, I guess, depending on when things get distributed.

Broadchurch returns for its third and final season tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on BBC America.


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