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Aidan Turner on Surprising 'The Suspect' Twists and Being 'Petrified' on Set

While making The Suspect, Aidan Turner felt he was “on the same journey” as viewers given how surprising he found the crime drama’s twists, the actor told Newsweek.

In The Suspect, which premieres on Thursday, Turner portrays Joe O’Loughlin, a clinical psychologist who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is brought onto a case when the police find a woman buried in a shallow grave.

The only problem is with each decision and revelation Joe makes, he starts to draw more and more suspicion on himself as the culprit.

The way in which the show’s plot develops was “surprising” even for Turner, he said, who added that he felt this project was his “first in a long time” that he felt he’d also enjoy as a viewer.

Aidan Turner on Surprising ‘The Suspect’ Twists

From lying to police on multiple occasions to keeping his connection to the victim a secret, and even trying to prove he’s being set up, there are numerous ways in which Joe points the finger at himself as a murder suspect.

This was something that Turner enjoyed about the show, even going so far as to act differently in some scenes to make his character seem even more suspicious.

Turner said: “Sometimes the obvious things you kind of just look past, it’s like hiding in plain sight and some of those things get revealed, like, ‘oh, yeah, I didn’t, I was looking past them at something else, it was interesting to read too because sometimes the thing is right in front of your face and the thing you identify as something you should be marking and noting.

“I was brought on that journey too, and it’s hard because you read these things as an actor and [I] loved the first episode, the second, and then you’re going with the story, you’re just consuming it so fast and as quick as you can because you [want to] get the story, you’re loving it but when you finish it you kind of forget how you feel, and you can’t revisit that moment again.

“So you get so familiar with the script, I think [it] was probably eight weeks from reading the script to shooting, and so I sort of felt like you get to know it so well, that you can’t feel the shock of those twists and turns anymore, so you lose perspective on it slightly. It’s only again when seeing the show that it presents itself in a way that you can sort of involve yourself into it again, but yeah I was just as surprised as anyone is.”

Reflecting on fan reaction to the show when it was first released in the U.K. in September, the actor said: “It was funny because I’m not on Twitter, I don’t follow it, but when the show was going out, I would have producers who would text me to go, ‘everyone on Twitter thinks it’s this person and it’s because of this reason,’ and most of the time they were wrong.

“So that was interesting to see what people made of some of the characters and some of the reasoning. But, yeah, I was surprised as anyone reading it too, and that’s my favorite kind of show to watch too.

“I love this kind of television and it’s nice to be a part of it. You know, sometimes you involve yourself in things as an actor where you’re like, ‘yeah, this is a super fun job, it’s amazing working with great people, it’s this kind of genre and it’s great but it might not be the first show that I’ll go out to watch, you know?’ But [The Suspect] is, for the first time in a long time this is this the kind of show that I would see watch as soon as it would come out, so that felt good.”

Being ‘Petrified’ On Set

Despite feeling good about being part of the show, there was one moment on set that left Turner “petrified.”

In the show’s first episode, Turner’s Joe steps out onto the ledge of a building to help stop a patient from taking their own life, and for the actor this was a terrifying experience because of his fear of heights.

The scene was done for real, though stunt people filmed the scene 15 floors off the ground while the actor shot the scene only two floors up, but even that was a tough shoot because Turner is “terrified of heights.”

“It was two stories, but we built the very top of that building, we built it for real on a set in a huge car park in East London. Yeah, so we did that, it was real,” Turner reflected.

“I couldn’t, even that, even being two stories, I mean I say two stories maybe it was like 15-foot, probably not two stories, but I was petrified. It’s high enough that if you fall, you can write off the next six months, you know? That’s enough for me to go, ‘oh, this is too scary.'”

Turner then joked that it made “the acting easier” because “it does it all for you really, because you really are a bit scared.”

“But it was fun, it was fun to do that stuff and I think it’s a dramatic opening for Joe as well to open a show like that with that high octane kind of thing,” Turner said.

food, aidan turner on surprising 'the suspect' twists and being 'petrified' on set

Aidan Turner as Joe O’Loughlin in “The Suspect,” the actor said he was “petrified” while filming scenes several stories above the ground (pictured). AMC+/Sundance Now

On Joe’s ‘Ego’ and How It Fuels His Deception

Joe is quite the unreliable narrator, keeping things hidden not only from the police but also his wife Julianne (Camilla Beeput) until the truth is forced to come to light, with the character seemingly unaware of how much his deception puts him at risk.

“What I always like, whenever I read scripts is figuring out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying, and why are they lying? Or why is this person telling the truth and what makes me believe them over the other?” Turner said of Joe’s secretive nature. “It was a real air and sense of ambiguity about Joe that I liked, I couldn’t figure him out. If I had my way, I think I’d even push it further.

“I think that ambiguity I loved, trying to figure out this character, what motivates him, why he says the things he says and why he makes the decisions he makes, because it doesn’t seem to add up and he sort of digs himself a hole.”

Turner went to great lengths to prepare for the role as well, meeting with a man named Drew Hallam who has early onset Parkinson’s disease and who helped the actor learn how Joe’s diagnosis could make him act the way he does.

“It was interesting to play somebody with that illness because I haven’t seen it that that much at all [on TV],” Turner said. “And I’ve been working with a young man, he’s my age he’s 39, and he was diagnosed at 35 with Parkinson’s. His name is Drew Hallam, and we talked a lot about what it was like in the early days of Drew being diagnosed and just psychologically, mentally, how he functioned.

“And it can be something that happened, with the shock and trauma of any illness, or diagnosis, it can happen, but sometimes with Parkinson’s you can be more impulsive and you can sometimes make irrational decisions and with that illness the spectrum is so broad, different people feel different things and the illness progresses in a multitude of different ways.

“So it was interesting to play somebody with that illness at the top of the show, it’s not something I’ve seen before.”

Reflecting on his character, Turner said: “Joe is white and he has some money and he’s a psychologist, he’s probably gone to some of the better colleges, he probably has something of an ego. He’s never not believed, ‘the truth is the truth and that’s it. Once I’m telling the truth everything will be fine.’

“I think he sort of lives by that a little bit, and when it counters him and he’s on the backfoot and he’s like, ‘this isn’t the way it’s supposed to go I’m not used to this, I’m supposed to be believed and I’m telling the truth’ and I don’t think he comes from a world where he’s been challenged on that.

“It doesn’t look good for him in a lot of situations and he just doesn’t know how to kind of just go ‘Hey, guys, look, this is mental.’ When he does try it then other things happen on top of that, so I think he just gets a bit flustered and then it snowballs and he’s on that journey with the snowball trying to make it better, and then it gets bigger and bigger. He’s in a world of trouble.”

All five episodes of The Suspect will premiere on Thursday, November 3, on AMC+ and Sundance Now.

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