American remakes of foreign shows aren’t exactly a new trend. But having the star of the original series come back as a variation of his or her character for the adaptation? That doesn’t happen every day. David Tennant is experiencing the phenomenon now. He stars in “Gracepoint,” which premieres at 9 p.m. Oct. 2 on Fox and is a yankee take on “Broadchurch,” the criminal mystery drama he appears in on the U.K.’s ITV. We asked him about juggling both characters, managing an American accent and handling spoilers.
Are there any major surprises or differences that people who watched “Broadchurch” need to keep an eye out for while watching “Gracepoint”?
There’s a lot that people will recognize if they see “Broadchurch” and I don’t think we’re making any apology for that. I think they’re not the principal audience we set out to make the show for. There’s so many people in America who didn’t see “Broadchurch” and we’re principally making the show for all those who haven’t come on this journey yet.
Having said that, if you have, you’ll recognize a lot by the first episode — you’ll see characters you have seen before, but you’ll see them done often very differently by an equally bunch of wonderful actors. But, as the story goes on, you’ll see new characters who may have been hinted at before who weren’t seen on screen. And some characters who had smaller parts before, you might get to learn more about them. So, there are things that you won’t see coming and you won’t know how it’s going to end.
SEE ALSO: TV Review: “Gracepoint”
What made you want to go back and play a version of this role again?
Well, I was asked. It was such a novelty. Something without precedent really and something certainly nothing like what I’d done before. I love this story and the show and the character so much, the idea that I would give up the character to someone else is not something I could conceive of.
How did you develop your American accent for this character? Did you base it on anyone in particular?
Not really. I have done an American accent before on stage and on television, so it wasn’t completely new to me. But it’s something you apply yourself to and I worked with a lot of really talented dialect coaches. Obviously there are certainly a lot of technical sounds to master; the vowel sounds and the way that some words sound. But you have to find out how it sits in your bones so that you’re not doing a silly voice and it becomes sort of organic to you. It’s also just having an ear for it in the first place so that when you’re practicing it, it just becomes second nature. That’s the ultimate goal.
There are so many actors from across the pond who end up playing Americans in U.S. TV dramas — Damian Lewis did it on “Homeland,” Matthew Rhys is in “The Americans” as recent examples — do you think there’s a reason why you all translate so well to American TV?
Well, we’ve grown up with it of course. American movies and even TV is part of our cultural experience growing up. Having said that, there’s a lot of Americans who manage it the other way around, isn’t there? I guess actors enjoy the challenge of transforming themselves, so we all quite like the notion that we can be taken for something or even simply pass ourselves off.
“Broadchurch” has another season in the U.K. Do people on the set of “Gracepoint” ever ask you for spoilers?
I didn’t know a great deal of what was happening in “Broadchurch” when I was filming “Gracepoint.” I think I had two scripts by the very end. But I couldn’t bring myself to look at them. I read the first one and found it so disorientating. I was in the middle of “Gracepoint” and [that character] Emmett Carver and all of that. Suddenly reading [“Broadchurch” character] Alec Hardy … it made me feel sort of dizzy. I couldn’t quite touch it until I was on the plane home. It just felt too disorientating, too schizophrenic. It’s easy enough to play which character when that’s all you’re doing, but I wouldn’t like to play both characters at once.