After a tumultuous year, the Big Apple is about to get a much-needed public relations boost courtesy of HBO’s The Undoing.
The Nicole Kidman–Hugh Grant limited series, which premieres Sunday on the premium cabler (9/8c), took full advantage of its lush New York City backdrop, packing each of its six episodes with sumptuous, sweeping, romanticized aerial shots of springtime Manhattan. HBO’s decision to delay The Undoing‘s arrival from May, when New York was fast becoming the epicenter of the global COVID-19 pandemic, to Fall, as the city attempts to jumpstart a recovery, seems almost prescient.
“It was devastating [last] May when we were watching New York become so battered and shattered,” Kidman recounts to TVLine. “It was really painful after having had the most glorious [time shooting there in Spring/Summer 2019]. To see it get ravaged [was hard]. So, hopefully, The Undoing will [help] you go, ‘Oh, I love New York… It’s meant to be a love letter.”
Based on the Jean Hanff Korelitz novel You Should Have Known, The Undoing centers on well-to-do Upper East Side couple (played by Kidman and Grant) whose seemingly perfect life is turned upside down for reasons that are too spoilery to get into. According to Kidman, “There was no other place to shoot it” but New York, adding “It was written for New York. The landscape of New York was absolutely imperative to the storytelling [because my character Grace spends] so much time just walking.
“It was beautiful that [director Susanne Bier] was able to capture the way a New Yorker will go, ‘I’m going to go for a walk,'” Kidman continues. “There is really no other city in the world where you can do that, where [the terrain] changes on a dime within three blocks.”
Kidman says Bier set out to capture Manhattan through a “dark fairytale” lens. “A lot of times New York is shot very documentary style,” the Oscar winner notes. “But Susanne came in, as a Danish woman, and put her own stamp on it.”
As Bier explains, “You walk in Central Park and look up at those apartments and wonder, ‘How do those people live?’ There are these beautiful, impeccable mothers delivering their kids from the limousine to school and the possibility of penetrating that seemingly perfect world was intriguing [to me].”