M. Night Shyamalan returns and brings more terror to ‘Servant’

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By Felix Caraballo-Martinez, MWN

Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan returns to television as executive producer and director of some episodes of “Servant,” a series that recently premiered its third season on Apple TV+.  The director of contemporary suspense and horror classics such as “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” gave an exclusive interview to Metro about his experience delivering episodes to directors with diverse creative visions.

In “Servant,” Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean (Toby Kebbell), a Philadelphia couple, experience turbulence in their marriage after the death of their three-month-old son Jericho. The couple undergoes radical therapy using a doll that Dorothy believes is their real son and is the only thing that brings her out of her catatonic state. Weeks later, they hire a mysterious young nanny to care for Jericho, an event that will bring disturbing results to the relationship. 

Did you always envision this story as a multi-season series, or did you work on the project along the way? And where did you get the idea for this series?

The idea came to me from producer Jason Blumenthal, who came to lunch and I told him what I was interested in and he sent me this pilot which was an early version of ‘Servant.’ I met with Tony (Basgallop), who wrote the pilot, and we spent a lot of time figuring out how we could improve it. And yes, I always thought of it as a multi-season series, but I didn’t know how many. I knew it wasn’t going to be ten seasons. But also that it wouldn’t be one season either. Once I wrote it all down, I felt really good about a fourth season.

What was the process of selecting the directors for each episode like? What new things did you bring to the table?

The process is very organic. Sometimes I’ll see a film that’s screened at a festival or a short film… Once I saw a little clip on Twitter of a scene from a film and I went to find out who directed it and if the film is as good as this little clip. Then I watched the movie and called Isabella Eklof who ended up directing two episodes for us. I like the different ways I find these amazing artists and I try to select directors for each episode very carefully. That requires two things: I have to have complete control over that and that all the scripts are done so I can decide who directs.

Tell about the experience of working with your daughter.

It’s amazing. I mean, I love working with her. We did everything together. She wrote a lot of the episodes and directed two of them. We had such a great time. I have so much respect for her because she’s so healthy in the way she thinks about art and interpersonal relationships professionally. She also takes my advice very well. So, so far, so good. We’ve had a wonderful time together.

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