M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant has been shrouded in mystery since its conception, with little more appearing online than two short clips that revealed basically nothing. We knew it was a TV series for Apple TV+, and we knew it involved a baby.
Shyamalan got together with the cast of the show for a panel at New York Comic Con (NYCC), during which he dropped some bombshells about what fans can expect from the psychological horror show.
Around 2,000 fans packed Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Thursday night to watch a never-before-seen trailer for the show — one that the public won’t get to see for another few weeks. We now know that the show revolves around a couple who hires a live-in nanny to look after their baby boy. The father doesn’t seem too into the idea, but that’s because their son is DEAD.
It turns out, the couple’s son died 13 weeks ago and they hired the nanny to look after a doll, which she does with a strange intensity.
Cast members Lauren Ambrose, Toby Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free, and Rupert Grint joined Shyamalan and the show’s creator, Tony Basgallop, to discuss what the hell is going on here.
The show will consist of 30-minute episodes that Shyamalan describes as “razor-edge right to the end of each moment,” and the entire series takes place in one location: inside a townhouse in Philadelphia. “We’re talking about this specific couple that lives in this specific house and what happens to them,” Shyamalan says.
Shyamalan is bringing high aesthetics to TV with a character-driven format that will force viewers to put down their phones and pay attention with no distractions. “I want you unable to do something else [while watching],” Shyamalan says. He also described the deliberation that went into every detail of directing — from the framework to the textures and colors shown on screen, all designed to make the audience feel something.
Because the show is so character-driven, it was important to find the right cast, which Shyamalan says came together like it was meant to be.
Lauren Ambrose plays the mother of the deceased child, who she described as a “fascinating, tragic character.” She adds, “This character, she takes her grief and expresses it in the most bananas way.”
Toby Kebbell plays the father, who he describes as “dealing with such a huge amount of grief and guilt.”
Rupert Grint plays the mother’s brother, a brash and outspoken guy who acts as a partner in crime to Kebbell. Shyamalan describes Rupert Grint’s performance as “transcendent,” adding that “he’s like a different human being” from what most fans know him as — Ron Weasley in all the Harry Potter films.
Nell Tiger Free plays the nanny, who the cast refers to as an enigmatic, mysterious presence. “She’s a big question mark in the house,” Free says. “What is she? Who is she? Why is she here?”
Shyamalan also revealed the ominous show’s release date for the first time: Thanksgiving Day. Servant will premiere globally on Nov. 28 on Apple TV+, a new streaming service that launches on Nov. 1 for $4.99 a month.
Check out a teaser below.