Surface interview: Stephan James comments on ‘Awkward’ Love Triangle

Nothing is as it seems on the streets of San Francisco Surface.

Ahead of the official release on Apple TV+, ComingSoon spoke to Stephan James about his role as Baden, a detective investigating Sophie’s mysterious past. The first three episodes of Surface will be released on July 29.

“Located in upscale San Francisco, Sophie is a woman who has suffered a traumatic head injury that has left her with extreme memory loss, believed to be the result of a suicide attempt,” reads the synopsis. “As Sophie embarks on a quest to put the pieces of her life back together with the help of her husband and friends, she begins to question whether the truth she’s being told is actually the truth she’s been living .”

See the full interview here below.

Tudor Leonte: Your character, Baden, knows more than meets the eye. How did you manage to balance the need to tell Sophie the truth but respect the trauma and stress she’s been through?

Stephen James: Yeah, I mean it’s layered, right? It’s a very, very layered thing. It’s obviously a big credit to Veronica West and the rest of the writers for making sure all of these characters are fully realized. I think that despite the intentions that Baden may have come into this scenario with just a ‘normal case’ and a policeman, there are definitely other things, other motives that influence his actions afterwards. It’s a building, it’s definitely a building, and it’s a challenge in terms of what you want to give depending on the episode and then what you have to hold back to just preserve for the life of the show.

The only sure thing about Surface is that nothing is as it first seems. How did you approach your character’s complicated relationship with Sophie and James?

James: I think a lot of it for me was on the page. Just being in the middle of them, I think, was always a lot of fun for me. We always played on that, just in real life, like the awkward dynamic it was when Baden was kind of the third wheel. I feel like it shifts a little bit, the perspective shifts a little bit in the series, where there’s just an interesting kind of duality, and at one point the audience might be more in James’s favor, at another point the audience might be more in Baden’s favor. I just think we really got a kick out of it.

What was your favorite moment to shoot?

James: I’d say my favorite moment happens when James and Baden can really see each other for the first time, when they kind of lock eyes, they both know what they’re doing, and they both know something about each other that the other person doesn’t know, they know. I think it happens somewhere in episode five or or six, but there’s a big difference between James and Baden. It was probably my funnest moment to shoot.

Do you believe that people can assume different identities throughout their lives?

James: I don’t think it’s that far-fetched at all. I think people do certain things to assimilate, right? To fit in. They do certain things to forget. They do certain things to deliberately confuse people or be able to get people to a point where they are able to manipulate them. I think so again, Veronica [West] has done a fantastic job of giving those elements to each of our characters where there’s a human aspect to them where you know their intentions are pure but then there’s an aspect of maybe there’s another motivation that makes them do the things they do. You are constantly in this battle of what is going to take precedence at any given time, someone’s true thoughts or someone’s dark motivations.

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