'Landscapers' star Olivia Colman: 'It is fascinating!'
Olivia Colman on her compelling true-life crime drama 'Landscapers'.
Landscapers tells the remarkable true story of one of the most outlandish crimes in British history.
The four-part series, airing in December on HBO in the US and Sky Atlantic in the UK, sees The Crown’s Olivia Colman as Susan Edwards, who, in 2014, along with her husband Christopher, played by Harry Potter star David Thewlis, was convicted of the 1998 murder of her parents William and Patricia Wycherley.
The Wycherleys' bodies were found buried in the back garden of their house in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, in 2013, after lying undiscovered for 15 years. But the drama, created and written by Colman’s husband Ed Sinclair, begins in France. After stealing the Wycherleys’ money and forging documents to pretend their victims were still alive, Susan and Christopher fled across the Channel to start a new life. But, as their crime eventually catches up with them and their lives unravel, fantasy sequences show the unassuming couple seeking refuge in their love of the golden age of cinema.
Here, Olivia Colman tells us why she was drawn to Landscapers…
'Landscapers' is an extraordinary story. What was the appeal for you?
“I like a mixture of something funny and sad. And I know the writer quite well! There was a piece about the case in the paper and Ed got sucked into this world and found it fascinating. He wrote to Susan and Christopher and said he wanted to tell their story. And then I read the scripts and loved them. It was a real dream.”
Why did the case intrigue you too?
“You think, ‘How the hell did they get away with it for that long? Why were those people not missed?’ They had covered their tracks pretty well, but I imagine they can never have felt genuinely happy or relaxed in those 15 years. It’s a horrible way to live your life.”
Susan and Christopher are still in prison to this day. What is your view of them?
“I think they are sweet people who found themselves in an extraordinary situation. They are devoted to each other, and had each other’s backs when this horrendous thing happened. No one will ever know really what happened, but extraordinary circumstances led them down a very odd path that they never imagined. I can’t imagine a situation where I’d take anyone’s life. But I’m sure they couldn’t imagine that either. You just never know what humans are capable of when pushed.”
What did you make of their obsession with old movies?
“For all of us, film is a form of escapism. And for Susan especially, it was really huge for her to be able to have male heroes, because she didn’t have that as a child. Christopher became her hero, as did all these male movie stars that she really loved.”
Was there any research you could do?
“I never saw any videos of Susan, but I met her solicitor. He’s the most incredible man and devoted to his job and to helping people. He’s probably the only person who still keeps in touch with Susan — he even sends her a Christmas present. He said, ‘She sounds just like you, Olivia.’ And I said, ‘That’s handy, I’ll stick with that!’”
Did you enjoy working with David Thewlis?
“We had a lovely time, he’s one of the nicest people in the world. We hadn’t worked together before, but we hit it off straight away.”
What were the fantasy sequences like to film?
“We filmed one scene where we were cowboys, and we had a ball. We sat on a real horse but then the scene cut to body doubles galloping because David and I both have a healthy respect for animals that might change their minds! We also had a scene in a carriage going downhill, and we had someone hidden behind us holding the reins. It was terrifying, but fun.”
Where can I watch 'Landscapers'?
It will air from Monday 6 Dec. on HBO in the US and will be available to stream on HBO Max.
The series begins in the UK on Sky Atlantic on Tuesday 7 Dec. at 9pm and all four episodes will then be available on Sky Box Sets and Now TV.
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Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.
Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.
Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.
In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.