In Season 2 of the Starz drama series The Missing, a young woman who has been missing for 11 years suddenly returns to her hometown. Once she’s back at home with her parents (David Morrissey, Keeley Hawes), Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham) throws her family’s lives back into a turmoil that threatens to tear them apart, while French detective Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) wants answers from her that will help him in finally solving a connected 12-year-old case.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor David Morrissey talked about being a fan of the first season, what made him want to be a part of Season 2, the emotionally grueling shoot, the uncomfortable process of applying and removing the character’s scars, the research he did for the role, shooting different timelines, and getting viewer reactions while the series aired in the U.K. He also talked about what it means to him to have gotten to play The Governor on The Walking Dead, his upcoming Amazon Prime series Britannia, and spending some time on the West End doing Shakespeare.
Collider: I loved the first season of The Missing, so I was concerned about what Season 2 would be like. I was glad to learn that not only would it be a different case, but it would also be about someone returning from being missing and how challenging that is to deal with. How did you get involved with this show, and had you been familiar with the first season?
DAVID MORRISSEY: Yeah, I came as a fan of the first season. I really loved it. Jimmy Nesbitt is a friend of mine. I’ve worked with him in the past, so I always really enjoy watching his stuff. I watched it and was intrigued by the multi-timelines. The way it was directed, the first season, by Tom Shankland was just amazing. I loved it. I thought it was great. So, when they said that they were doing it again and that they were bringing the French detective back, but that it was a completely different story, I was interested. And then, I met with the writers and they shared their idea that it was about somebody who’d gone missing, but then returned back to a family, and how they’d deal with the return of their daughter, as opposed to the abduction of their daughter, and how the abduction of their daughter had kept the family together. The mother, father and son had stayed together and were still a loving unit. And then, the return of their daughter, which was all they ever wanted, acts as a wedge between the husband and wife, and it drives the family apart, for various reasons. And there were the multi-timelines, telling it mostly in 2014, when the daughter returns to the family, but also having this whole section of present-day. My character, Sam, is emotionally scarred, for sure, but he’s also physically scarred. He has these burns all over his face and his back, and we don’t really know how that’s happened. You’re constantly playing detective, yourself, as the audience.
How long did it take to apply the make-up, how uncomfortable was that, and how much did that help you define who this man is?
MORRISSEY: When we started, it took about two hours, but we ended up getting it down to about an hour and a half. Taking it off was the problem. It always took an hour and a half to take it off. It was a very slow process. And then, I’d get in my car – and we were usually far away from where I was staying – and I’d stick to the seat. Then, I’d get to the hotel room and I’d have to peel off my shirt because it stuck to my back with the glue. That was pretty horrible. You’d wake up in the morning and get up, and your pillow would come with you. So, it was very uncomfortable, but it really did help me stay in the character. It was restrictive and awkward, and you were always conscious of it. That was important, I felt.
Was this show as emotionally grueling to shoot, as it seems like it would have been?
MORRISSEY: Obviously, at the end of the day, we, as actors, are able to get together, have some fun and let our hair down. But during the day and the time it takes to actually shoot the show, there’s not a lot of levity around, at all. You’re really in that emotion and you just carry it with you. It does take its toll. It really does. It’s very draining, at times, because it’s such an emotional journey.