You fought zombies, befriended an alien, and brought the hard action to a sleepy English village. In the new Amazon Prime Video comedy series Truth Seekers, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg explore the paranormal, and the duo seem to be as excited about their reunion as they are by their fan base.
“We are both very aware that we enjoy what we do when we do it as a couple, and we sense the expectation of it,” says Frost. “When we do something, I want it to be fun and us to enjoy it and you to enjoy being with us. But if we can’t find the thing organically, we’re not going to force it.
“I think we are in a very lucky position,” he added. “Our characters have aged as we have, and the people who watch us have aged with us. I am satisfied with that. It’s interesting to see how characters change as we change as humans, as humans and men, as fathers and husbands. “
While Frost and Pegg both star in Truth Seekers (as well as co-creators and co-writers on the show), their new production company’s latest release, Stolen Picture, keeps the famous double act apart for most of its eight films. Episode run. Frost plays broadband installer and part-time paranormal investigator Gus Roberts and is a major leader, while Pegg is the supportive gamer as his boss, Dave.
Still in mourning the death of his wife Emily, Gus is brilliant in both his job and hobby – though his truth seeker YouTube channel doesn’t get as many hits as he’d like – and the show is careful not to be fun in his unusual pastime.
“I never want to write a comedy that has someone feeling bullied or a group of ghost hunters at home thinking, ‘Why are they laughing at me?'” Says Frost. “Anyone looking for the Loch Ness Monster is good to you – a passion for anything is beautiful.
“James Serafinowicz [Truth Seekers co-creator and younger brother of regular Pegg/Frost collaborator Peter] and I got the idea from Gus, ”continues Frost. “Over the course of a couple of years we found that this guy was kind of funny, a little sad, and demon driven – literally.
“He was a lone wolf, a little moody and bellicose and cynical, which is a bit strange for someone who believes in ghosts. Then we started developing storylines. Me and Simon and James and Nat [Saunders, the fourth member of the show’s creative quartet] has always been a fan of horror and mystery, ghosts and aliens, conspiracy theories and haunted dolls. That was our language and we started writing stories about Gus. ”
In the 90s, before their Channel 4 sitcom Spaced became a cult hit, then roommates Pegg and Frost watched a ton of videos on The X-Files, one of the biggest TV shows in the world at the time. They also visited cemeteries to go on ghost hunts. Both things flowed into the DNA of the truth seekers – even if their paranormal investigations had more influence on a previous collaboration than this particular project.
“I think our characters in Paul came more from what we did in those graveyards than from Gus Roberts in Truth Seekers,” explains Frost. “I think what me and Simon did [with the ghost hunts] It was about wanting to be afraid. More driven by grief, Gus wants to ask a question that he knows he will never find the answer to. The internet is so full of amazing shit – in a good way – and as a group we always went down a rabbit hole watching an exorcism in Ukraine. For every 10 videos we saw and laughed at, there was one that we sent each other where you’d think, “That seems real.” It was those moments this clip of a door that closes at night in a school in Cork. There the seekers of truth were born. “
Though Truth Seekers’ debut season goes on and on, a variety of spooky phenomena emerge as cases of the week – from haunted hotel rooms and number stations to corpses on fire. While some state-of-the-art visual effects help increase the anxiety quotient, most of the spooks were created in the camera.
“The vast majority of the ghouls and ghosts you see were practical effects,” confirms Emma D’Arcy, who plays Astrid on the show. “There was actually very little acting up to a point on the wall and there was a lot more yelling about really horrific things that were in the room with you. It must have been pretty easy for me – if something is really smoldering in the corner, it doesn’t take much imagination. I think the fact that they use practical effects gives the series some of its texture, nonchalance and nostalgic quality. “
But as you’d expect from a Pegg / Frost collaboration, Truth Seekers isn’t all about fear. There are also lots of laughs mixed in with the horror.
“The comedy releases the tension and the horror builds it up,” says Julian Barratt, the star of The Mighty Boosh / Mindhorn, who talks to academic and paranormal experts Dr. Peter Toynbee plays. “It’s a matter of time. You need to have the right amount of gaps between the jokes. Jokes [can be] brilliant with horror because they can make you feel like everything will be fine. And of course not. Switching between these things is a tricky business, but I think they do a great job. “
Gus is not alone in his ghost hunting exploits. His day job at the Internet company Smyle brings him together with a new rookie partner who accompanies him on his paranormal investigation. Elton John (not this one), played by Timewasters ‘Samson Kayo, is the skeptical Scully of Gus’ Mulder and has some secrets in his own past.
Their young partnership quickly withdraws into the world of Astrid, a mysterious young woman who recently lost her mother and saw her house burn down and has now become a magnet for ghosts. When we first meet her, we know next to nothing about who she is.
“I think it’s pretty unusual to have female characters who are allowed to have some level of mystery, but not in some kind of femme fatale,” explains D’Arcy. “Characters who may not be defined by their background, who may not even be defined by the situation – when we meet Astrid for the first time, she is somehow contextless and somehow friendless. The only thing she has is a lot of ghosts and ghouls! “
Elton’s sister Helen (Susan Wokoma) plays a key role in Truth Seekers. An avid cosplayer and YouTuber, she is obsessed with bringing her creations to CovColCosCon (also known as the Coventry Collectible Cosplay Convention), but her agoraphobia prevents her from mingling with others. She also makes an unlikely friendship with Gus’ father Richard, played by A Clockwork Orange and if … star Malcolm McDowell.
“Helen has her YouTube channel where she’s really creative and has a huge following,” says Wokoma. “This makes it difficult for her to connect with people in real life – she finds people scary and is quite suspicious. She manages to find that connection when she meets Malcolm’s character, and they have this unlikely friendship that I really love.
“I love intergenerational friendships. There’s so much to learn from each other. In many comedies, it’s usually the old person who rolls their eyes at the millennium and says, ‘Oh God, how stupid are you?’ But they see each other for who they are and for their loneliness. You’re all trying to find a family and those are the people you put down roots for I think. I think a lot of people feel too supernatural genre- Shows attracted because these worlds make more sense than the world we live in. “
Alongside the ghosts and ghouls, the human threat comes in the form of Barratt’s Toynbee, whose academic book-writing facade is a front for a cult with sinister intent. How bad is he?
“I don’t think bad guys see themselves as bad guys, do I?” says Barratt. “I just wanted him to believe a lot in his own ideas and less in other people’s. I suppose maybe the hallmark of a villain is that they don’t really believe other people’s points of view that much. That they’re doing something for the common good is usually in the back of their minds, and the means tend to justify the goals for them – unless you’re into the kind of villainy that twirls the mustache. I have a mustache – but I don’t twist it around. “
Although Truth Seekers is funded by the very deep (and internationally-focused) pockets of Amazon, the show doesn’t forget its British roots. Like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End, it encompasses the UK surrounding areas (in this case, Dorset) and doesn’t lose sight of the local quirks – in other words, there’s nothing to worry about the haunted controversy at the Bly Manor style about “doing math”. In fact, Truth Seekers is cut from the same visual fabric as a UK network drama Doc Martin – albeit with more ghosts.
“That’s a great reference,” laughs Wokoma. “Sometimes you can tell when someone is trying to like, to gloss it over. They say, “It’s set in London!” but it’s kind of LA London. They say, “This is not London, man!” And I guess the fact that you have all of these references to a digestive biscuit and [quiz show] The huntThese things kind of pull you back from the size. It feels familiar and just means we can jump in. “
“I also love that there is some kind of folk-sci-fi element,” says D’Arcy. “It’s like exploring the outer realms of experiences and phenomena with two baked bean shapes in the garage. Something about it feels oddly British. And even if you are on the verge of a major paranormal discovery, you have your day job to do. I hardly ever judge or see that. I like that very much throughout the series, Gus continues! “
The first season of Truth Seekers will be available on Amazon Prime Video starting Friday, October 30th.
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