Broadchurch star David Tennant reprises his role as the equally dogged and grumpy DI Alec Hardy in the show’s final season. Here he discusses his on and off-screen relationship with costar Olivia Colman, this season’s difficult subject matter, and where we’ll find his character when the show premieres on June 28 at 10/9c.
How did it feel to read the opening episode script of the final season?
Tennant: I felt that it was clearly very beautifully researched, and I realized and that it was touching and intriguing — a page turner and funny in places, but also gripping to read. That it was the same world, but telling a different type of story, and that it was somewhere I was very happy to be back in.
So where do we find DI Alec Hardy at the beginning of the final season?
Tennant: It’s a few years down the line, and some stuff has happened in the interim which we will find out as the season unfolds. At the end of season two, we didn’t know if he was getting in the cab or not… turns out he did, but he has found his way back to Broadchurch and has found his way back to working with Ellie again. Although he is never entirely happy with his lot, he realizes that this is probably where he is meant to be and that Ellie is the closest thing he has to a best friend.
So there is a sort of acceptance to him, he is not railing against the world in quite the same way. What he ends up railing against is the perpetrator of this season’s crime, and his focus becomes trying to understand the person who would do this, trying to get inside their skin, and that’s something he struggles with initially. That has been an interesting conflict to play — Hardy trying to come to terms with what sort of man would do this, and almost feeling ashamed for his own gender.
The relationship between Hardy and his daughter Daisy is also a bigger part of this season, and it gives him a different perspective on things. It makes him all the more keenly aware of the idea that there may be a threat to women in the community. He is trying to be a dad and it is not something he has a lot of practice at. He is a decent bloke, it just doesn’t necessarily come so naturally to him.
This season deals with some very difficult subject matter. What sort of research went into sexual assault?
Tennant: Chris Chibnall’s (the Broadchurch creator) research has been incredible. He has been working on this since the end of season two, and I think what is particularly affecting about it is that we are presenting something that is an awful event in someone’s life, and you have to present it realistically, accurately and sensitively. Chris’s genius on this is that he has almost forensically gone about looking at what the support systems are in this country, and the amazing work that they do with victims of sexual assault, and I think he represents that and bears witness to that in the script. We were hugely affected by meeting some of the women who meet with victims and who help them and care for them, and to see the processes that do exist in a hugely underfunded set of services. The humanity there and the care of the people who work at Rape Crisis and those organizations has been humbling, and something I hope we bear witness to appropriately in the show.
What was it like working with the new actors (such as Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lenny Henry and Sarah Parish) this season?
Tennant: That’s always been such a joyous part of it. Olivia and I get the privilege of working with everyone because of the way it is structured. We will interview everyone that the case touches, so we have this extraordinary treat of working with this range of brilliant actors, and quite different types of actors, who are equally brilliant and unique. On this season there are some old friends of mine from other jobs, and some people I had not met before, and we have been thrilled with them all.
What do you think is it about the partnership between DI Hardy and DS Miller that makes audiences love watching them?
Tennant: It’s hard to be objective about something that you are so close to, and I wouldn’t pretend to know why things necessarily work. I suppose Olivia Colman is a pretty significant part of it — she certainly has been for me — and getting to work with her for all of these years and having had such a great time with her professionally, but also having such a laugh, it has been such a joy to be part of that partnership. I don’t know what ‘chemistry’ is though. It seems to be an intangible thing, so I don’t know how one quantifies it, but obviously I am delighted if people think we have it on screen.
What will you miss the most about filming Broadchurch?
Tennant: I will miss our trips to the coast. West Bay and the Jurassic coastline I will definitely need to visit, because there is something very special about that place and it is an extraordinary part of the country. There is a massive personal legacy having worked on this show. We all feel like we have been doing something very special and that we are all a part of each other’s lives now.
Watch the trailer for the final season of Broadchurch below, and don’t miss the premiere on Wednesday, June 28 at 10/9c.