Burden of Truth
Producer-brothers explore two sides of a story in SundanceTV’s Liar.
Joss Barratt/Two Brothers Pictures/ITV/SundanceTV
If two heads are indeed better than one, then writer-producers Harry and Jack Williams are a powerhouse pair.
In their latest effort — the SundanceTV six-part series Liar, debuting September 27 — the brothers have teamed to tell a provocative, he-said, she-said thriller.
Laura, a smart and dedicated teacher not long out of a bad romance, goes on a date with Andrew, a well-liked, respected surgeon, only to wake up the next morning in bed with him — with no memory of having consented to sex. Andrew’s version of that night is the exact opposite, and as police investigate the alleged crime, secrets and lies are laid bare.
“One of these people isn’t telling the truth, and we wanted to explore the concept of truth and memory,” Harry says. “You can’t always take people at face value, or assume that what they appear to be — or how they conduct themselves — is who they really are.“
In the beginning at least, the high-strung, man-weary Laura (Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey fame) seems less sympathetic. But the tables quickly turn, and it’s Andrew (Ioan Gruffudd of Fantastic Four and UnREAL) who becomes suspect.
Their friends and family become entangled in the scandal, but they too can’t always be trusted. “You have to keep all the characters in a gray area,” Jack says. “The challenge with psychological thrillers is to remain ambiguous throughout the series before the lies are exposed and the truth finally comes out.”
The duo couldn’t be happier about having cast Froggatt and Gruffudd. “They played all sides of their characters, so your perceptions of them change,” Harry offers. “Both of them gave very generous performances, and really explored their roles and discussed them in depth. It was a wonderful thing to watch.”
After starting their careers writing comedy shows for both the British and American markets, the Williams brothers have found their groove in more thoughtful fare, like the Starz drama The Missing, which they wrote and executive-produced. “Let’s just say, we knew when to quit,” Harry says of their comedy career. In 2014, they set up Two Brothers Pictures, which has produced shows for cable and streaming networks, such as Amazon’s Fleabag.
And what’s it like for two brothers to work side by side? “Awkward,” Harry jokes. “I never pay Jack compliments.”
Kidding aside, there’s no sibling rivalry “and not a lot of ego,” Jack adds. “We have similar opinions, but not so much that we don’t push each other creative-wise.”
With Liar, their goals were totally simpatico. “We want viewers to experience the ordeal the characters are going through,” Jack says. “Hopefully, they’ll side with one of them, and then say, ‘Oh, my God,’ and side with the other. We want to keep them in suspense.”
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 8, 2017