Absentia: FBI Agent Without Her Memory Wants to Recover Her Life
Emily is an FBI agent. Well, she was. “She was kidnapped six years before our story begins, and everyone think she’s dead,” explains Stana Katic , who returns to television after a brief break after Castle’s eight-year success . The story of Absentia, which opens tonight (10:05pm) on the AXN channel, begins when Emily appears after six years without remembering what happened to her during this time. “She has been tortured for six years, returns and has to begin a new life. Her previous world has changed completely: her husband is married again, her son has grown up and calls another woman mom, her father is sick … This is how the story begins, “continues the Canadian actress with Serbian roots.
Emily’s husband, Nick (played by Patrick Huesinger), receives a call with the location of where she can be found: in a cabin in the middle of the woods outside Boston. That cabin, in fact, was built in the middle of the forests of the Vrana Palace, the official residence of Simeon of Bulgaria outside Sofia, open to the public today. In total, 35 scenes of Absentia were shot between the gardens and the woods around the palace . “Much of the action takes place in nature and this looks quite like Massachusetts,” says Maria Feldman, one of the producers.
For Feldman, the director Oded Ruskin, and the director of photography, Nadav Hekselman, it was essential to shoot in different and real locations, to avoid studies as much as possible. “We do not shoot chronologically, but like a movie: we have the complete script of all the episodes and we shoot by location,” Feldman explains. From the beginning, creators and actors had access to the full scripts of the 10 episodes, which shot in record time of 62 days starting in January 2017 and going through 60 locations in Sofia and surrounding areas. “Only a few scenes of the city were shot in studio, by recreating the streets,” she says.
Only a very creatively aligned team could surpass such a shoot. Feldman, Ruskin and Hekselman came from working together on False Flag, an Israeli spy series that caught the attention of the studio and sent them the script of Absentia. It hooked them right away. “I like that it’s a thriller but it’s also a family drama,” says Oded Ruskin. “I found it unique because it’s a thriller , but it’s very, very emotional: it’s a woman who comes back to find out that her husband has remarried.”
“It’s an interesting question to pose as an actor,” reflects Huesinger. “What would you do if someone you loved disappeared? How long would you look for her? Imagine losing your child: how long would you look for them until you quit? And all of a sudden, when you’ve already moved on, they come back and you have to deal with all that, it’s another kind of drama. ”
Nick finds himself at home with his ex-wife, Emily, whom he never stopped loving, and with Alice (Cara Theobold), his current wife, who has raised the son of Nick and Emily and also loves. “All characters have their own story and struggle,” says Theobold. This is another element that differentiates Absentia from the mystery series and adds emotions, commented the producers.
But above all, what differentiates it from series like Blindspot, which also deals with the loss of memory of its protagonists, is its tone. “It’s a lot darker and raw,” says Theobold. “It looks like a Scandinavian series.” “Something that has not been seen for a long time on American television,” adds Neil Jackson, who plays Emily’s brother. Patrick Huesinger agrees: “If I have to compare it with any series, it would be with the Danish original of The Bridge, both in the tone of the performance, as well as the script and the photography.”Absentia is a police thriller, is a romantic … family drama. “It’s a very dramatic story,” says Oded Ruskin, the director, who changed many details of the original story that was sent to him, but kept the premise: What if a woman returns after being gone for six years? “Sometimes it seems like a horror movie,” adds producer Maria Feldman.Although American production, the whole team agrees to assimilate it more to the style of dark series that have been made in Europe recently because there are no concessions of humor for the public. “Explore the pain, without putting glitter, without hiding.” It also has action scenes. “Some complicated,” says Theobold. Many of the questions will be closed in the first season, and others will be open … for possible future deliveries.