Five minutes with BBC’s #MotherFatherSon director Tom Rob Smith

Richard Gere makes his first TV appearance after 40 years in the new BBC psycho-thriller, ‘MotherFatherSon’. 

Written by Tom Rob Smith, and directed by James Kent, the eight-part show stars Billy Howle, Helen McCrory and Pippa Bennett Warner alongside Gere, who plays Max Finch, a media magnate.

He’s a man who’s had a difficult past, is well-liked and a little feared, an influencer who takes tea with the prime minister. A man who has a difficult relationship with his son Caden, which unravels as the series progresses. 

His role as a paternal figure on television coincides with him becoming a new father himself. 

Speaking of how the story came about, Smith said he watched a friend go through a second childhood after suffering a stroke and being on the brink of death for two weeks. 

“I watched him go through the process of walking again and learning to speak. It’s this intense process and I wanted to tell that story: who do you live for, what do you love? So that was the heart of it and then used that to explore the world at large. 

"So the stuff that looks like it’s the show – which is power, and society – is really a thing we’ve added to that story. It’s actually: if you’re coming back into the world, how do you look at society?,” said Smith.  

The story- although very political, it is also a dark family drama. 

It’s a psychological family drama. We see it as a thriller. The thriller element is built into who we are, and if that’s all upended and we have this wildcard character at the centre of it – the son – who could say anything or do anything, there’s that element of unpredictability. The volatility,” he said. 

Smith said the idea of getting Gere involved happened by chance after he had rewatched American Gigolo while he was writing American Crime Story. 

Gere later met with Kent over dinner to gain their trust. 

“I think he has this amazing ability to take something quite dark and yet make it incredibly charming and seductive. We also sensed that he loves James’s (Kent) movies, and he very much wanted to feel in safe hands so James was a big part of that wooing process. We just love his work. You can get anybody in TV now if you’re right with the right connection with the material,” said Smith 

He said this is the most honest title for a show. 

“With titles, I literally think of, ‘what is this piece?’. With London Spy, I thought, ‘Well it’s a spy in London’. With The Assassination Of Gianni Versace I actually originally just put Versace. And this is the most honest title. 

"Because it’s about those three. I try not to overthink titles. The simplicity of it says a lot. And you can’t separate the words because one runs into another,” he said. 

* ‘MotherFatherSon’ airs on BBC First, Sundays at 8pm. 


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