The chilling new Starz drama series The Missing follows the aftermath of what happens when five year-old Oliver Hughes disappears while on holiday in France with his parents. As you descend deeper into the mind of a father (James Nesbitt) desperate to locate his lost son, and getting help from a now retired detective (Tchéky Karyo), you follow the obsessive, nearly decade-long search to find his son and those responsible for his disappearance.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actor Tchéky Karyo talked about how he got involved with The Missing, why he found the story so moving, getting a full arc for his character, the authenticity of the relationships, the difference between Julien Baptiste in 2006 and in 2014, the very human resolution to the season, and why he enjoys getting to build a character over time. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Collider: How did you come to be a part of this?
TCHEKY KARYO: Well, the director and the producers knew me as an actor, and the casting director who was casting for the French characters in Belgium also talked about me. That’s how it came to be. I am a grown up, mature man, so I’m in the range of this type of guy, even though I feel good. I’m lucky to be able to get those characters with maturity.
When you read this, what was it about the story and character that really stuck with you?
KARYO: It was difficult to read it, at first, because it was really moving. I have a young child – a daughter, who’s two years old. But then, the more I read, the more I realized that we are telling a very compelling story with a lot of humanity and authenticity. It is a thriller, where you get the chance to approach the characters and do your own investigation. It’s quite attractive, as a viewer, to have the opportunity to be respected as somebody who can interact with the story. I thought it was very well-written and I really enjoyed Julien, as a character. He’s French, he has wisdom, he’s patient, and he’s a good man. He shares his life with a British woman. And I had a real arc, as a character. It was a gift. Plus, the team of actors were like a big boat with very good sailors, and the guide was really amazing. This young director, Tom Shankland, directed everything.
There’s such an interesting relationship dynamic between Julien Baptiste and Tony Hughes. What was it like to work with James Nesbitt?
KARYO: We didn’t speak much about it, which was good. We kept the mystery with each other, during the shoot. Everyone worked in his own place, and then when we meet between, “Action!” and “Cut!,” it’s the moment that is the mystery and the magic. What is attractive in our relationship is that there is this feeling of authenticity that we discovered while shooting. That’s the magic of our art, as actors.
They talk a lot about how cops and detectives have that one case that sticks with them because it’s not resolved. Do you feel like this is that case for Julien Baptiste?
KARYO: Yes. Tony is so destroyed by the loss of his son, and he has empathy and identifies with him because he, himself, maybe feels a bit of guilt that he wasn’t taking enough care of his daughter. He has to deal with that, and what she’s going through is quite tragic. The luxury we have when we do a series is that we go through a long journey, and it keeps a lot of information and things to be revealed. In that sense, it’s playful, even though it’s tragic. Life is tragic comedy, in a way. There is humor.
What kind of a man was Julien Baptiste when he started with this case in 2006, and how different is he in 2014?
KARYO: When he started in 2006, he was about to retire. In one month, he is going to retire. He keeps his bees and has his life with his woman. It’s like an addiction that comes back. Maybe he didn’t change much because he goes back to it. He has to. Maybe he learned patience and some wisdom. The bouncing from 2006 and 2014 is an interesting part of the story. I liked it.
Once you learned how this story would end up, was its conclusion anything like what you expected it would be, when you started reading it?
KARYO: No. You cannot know what’s going to happen, but you have a lot of guesses. It’s also about the way that they play with the camera. The way that humanity is treated and written, it’s very human. Once you know it’s an abduction, you wonder what will happen and how they will react. Why is there an empathy from Julien? Where is it coming from? Being a bee keeper is a beautiful metaphor for the character. The relationship that he has with his woman is also really nice.
How satisfying do you think audiences will be with the conclusion of the season?
KARYO: It’s compelling and the characters are really surprising. It’s a choir, where some voices come out sometimes, and then everybody sings together. It’s like a big boat moving, and a big wave takes everyone with it.
As an actor, do you enjoy the opportunity to explore a character over a longer period of time on a TV series?
KARYO: Yes, it’s super. I also enjoyed the pleasure of meeting the team and discovering people. That’s really nice. But, I also do it in the theater. In theater, there’s a lot of work to do to build the characters. It’s a great experience. I’d love to continue that.
Do you have a preference for doing it in the theater, where you know where things are headed, or for a TV show, where you don’t know what’s coming next?
KARYO: With this one, I knew because I read most of it before I started. But I like the idea of not knowing, and following and discovering. That’s also interesting. I have a lot of experience, and I’m really keen to try things. I love improvisation. It’s quite exciting.
The Missing airs on Saturday nights on Starz.