'Landscapers' star David Thewlis wonders what real people who inspired drama would think of it

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Watch: David Thewlis and Olivia Colman discuss the true case behind Landscapers

New Sky Atlantic mini-series Landscapers is one of those too-good-to-be-true stories, enriched by the fact it’s actually based on a real life events.

The characters we see are real and very much still alive. Susan and Christopher Edwards were sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2004, after they murdered and buried Susan's parents in the their own garden, 15 years previously.

David Thewlis, who plays Christopher, told Yahoo that he would be keen to hear what the real Christopher would think of their interpretation, but Olivia Colman, who plays his on-screen wife Susan, feels differently.

Read more: Landscapers star Olivia Colman on collaborating with husband Ed Sinclair

“I would like to know what they think,” Thewlis said, as Colman explained: “I think if they were terribly upset by us that would be an awful thing to hear because it’s done with empathy, hopefully, from everyone involved.

Sky Original drama Landscapers tells a unique love story involving a seemingly ordinary couple who become the focus of an extraordinary investigation when a couple of dead bodies are discovered in the back garden of a house in Nottingham. Stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis
Olivia Colman and David Thewlis star in Landscapers (Sky Atlantic)

"Can you imagine watching something about yourself that you had no part in? Would be weird to watch it.”

Bringing a true story to life does require a sense of empathy and sensitivity, and writer Ed Sinclair — who spoke to Yahoo alongside director Will Sharpe — talks about finding the human element within the surreal events that took place.

Read more: Olivia Colman pays tribute to late father in Emmys speech

“It’s fascinating and seems like a series of dots that aren’t connected, so you find yourself wondering about that stuff and seeing if you can fill in those gaps and speculate how on Earth they got here,” Sinclair said.

Sky Original drama Landscapers tells a unique love story involving a seemingly ordinary couple who become the focus of an extraordinary investigation when a couple of dead bodies are discovered in the back garden of a house in Nottingham. Stars Olivia Colman and David Thewlis
Olivia Colman and David Thewlis in Landscapers (Sky Atlantic)

“The thing most press didn‘t dwell on was Susan’s experiences as a child at the hands of her father, which felt increasingly like that was maybe the explanation of some sort of how this happened and her fantasy life, her hero complex, that was the moment I thought, right, this is it.

Read more: David Thewlis questions wisdom of celebrities discussing politics

“Then meeting Darrell, this wonderful empathetic, compassionate person who represented [Susan] at trial which gave me comfort that taking this more empathetic outlook was acceptable,” Sinclair finished.

He wasn’t the only to have met Darrell Ennis-Gayle, as Dipo Ola, who plays the role, explained.

Landscapers: Olivia Colman as Susan Edwards Dipo Ola as Douglas & Kate O’Flynn as DC Emma Lancing (Sky Atlantic/HBO)
Landscapers: Olivia Colman as Susan Edwards Dipo Ola as Douglas & Kate O’Flynn as DC Emma Lancing (Sky Atlantic/HBO)

“It felt like we were doing our own thing and using it as a starting point to delve into a different world,” he said. “The person I play is a real person and I did meet them halfway through but I wasn’t really playing him, I was playing a version of him that served the purpose of the story.”

His co-star Kate O’Flynn, who plays DC Emma Lancing in the show, explains that for her moving away from the true story was important, treating the material as its own unique creation.

“We’re not saying exactly what happened, this is an interpretation,” she said. “It was intentional to step away from it rather than say ‘we know what happened’. This is more open than that.”

Landscapers is on Sky Atlantic and NOW from 7 December. Watch a trailer below.

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