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Susanne Bier On ‘The Undoing’ Finale And Analyzing A Privileged Psychopath

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Warning: spoilers for “The Undoing” finale, “The Bloody Truth,” ahead.

Leading up to the Sunday finale of HBO’s hit limited series “The Undoing,” countless theories about the prestige whodunit sprouted up on the internet, namely concerning the question: Who killed Elena Alves (Matilda De Angelis)?

Did renowned pediatric oncologist and seemingly devoted father Jonathan Fraser (Hugh Grant) really murder his paramour? Or was it his 12-year-old son Henry (Noah Jupe)? Or could it be that his psychotherapist wife, Grace (Nicole Kidman), and father-in-law, Franklin (Donald Sutherland), were hiding their own dark secrets?

Well, in a not-so-surprising reveal, it turns out the intelligent, rich, white, cheating husband actually did do it.

Jonathan, despite his charming disposition and empathetic persona, turned out to be a sociopathic madman. He brutally bludgeoned Elena, then tried to place blame on his innocent son before kidnapping him for a suicide mission, which led to a helicopter-filled car chase.

If that all sounds over the top, then director Susanne Bier did her job bringing showrunner David E. Kelley’s thriller ― loosely based on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 novel “You Should Have Known” ― to life.

In this interview, the Danish filmmaker ― known for her work on “After the Wedding,” “The Night Manager” and “Bird Box” ― talks through the finale, the series’ star-studded cast and displaying the seemingly limitless wealth and power of the privileged New York elite.



Noma Dumezweni and Hugh Grant with director Susanne Bier on the set of “The Undoing.”

How does it feel to have the top-secret final episode out in the world?

It feels great. But it’s weird because I’m in Denmark and they still haven’t seen it here ― they’re watching it tonight.

The show took a different approach to the book it was based on, so the audience really didn’t know what to expect. How has it been for you to see people theorizing about the killer? I’m sure making this a series versus a movie allowed you to play around with every character’s guilt a bit, right?

Yes, exactly. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s kind of interesting. Essentially what we wanted to do was give the audience an experience which is similar to Grace’s experience. In a way, you, if you take a step back, you can see that all the evidence sort of points to Jonathan, but we don’t want to believe it. We really don’t want to believe it exactly like Grace didn’t want to believe it. Hugh Grant [Jonathan] is so charming and we recognize that he’s done something bad and he’s been unfaithful, but he’s so full of remorse, so our empathy plays tricks with us. We do kind of want to forgive him and we want to look for another culprit, and that brought that whole sort of craze of “is it this one, or is it this one?” into motion.

Yes. A lot of us assumed Jonathan was this sociopathic murderer, but, again, we’re questioning it alongside Grace. Did you and David ever consider revealing him to be the killer sooner and taking a different approach? Maybe focusing on the aftermath of it all?

Not really. We were very clear about the story. I think one of the things David told me when we spoke for the first time was that he was going to use the book for the first two episodes. The book is more about the aftermath and David felt like it would be easier to have a clearer dramatic structure. Having said that, the book is called “You Should Have Known” and the series is built exactly on that conceit ― you should have known. You should have seen what was really there. It’s essentially all ingrained in our human nature ― that we want to see what we want to see and we change our perception of reality accordingly. It’s exactly what Grace does. In spite of being this brilliant, brilliant therapist, she does it like we all do.

From left to right, David E. Kelley, Noma Dumezweni, Susanne Bier, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant of "The Undoing" at the 2020



From left to right, David E. Kelley, Noma Dumezweni, Susanne Bier, Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant of “The Undoing” at the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 15.

You were so smart to put Hugh Grant in the role of Jonathan. Did you want someone familiar, who was known for being a charming, romantic-comedy kind of guy, in order to dupe the audience?

I mean, I wanted Hugh Grant because he is who he is and he is charming and he has a kindness to him, he has a softness to him, he has a sadness to him. But I always, always thought that he had another side to him as well, and I think so does he. And so we had a lot of fun with calibrating his performances and the audience’s expectations and that whole thing with who Jonathan is. And I want to say that I think Hugh Grant has always been an incredible, complex actor who happened to become very, very popular in a very specific genre. That doesn’t mean he can do one thing, it’s just when you become popular in one thing, that is what people seem to think of you, which isn’t necessarily the entire truth.

Yeah, absolutely. And it was so great to see him opposite Nicole Kidman. A lot of people assumed they had worked together before since they’re a part of the same generation in Hollywood, but they hadn’t. As a director, it must have been amazing to see them perform scenes together and really bring the story to life.

Yeah, it was wonderful. I mean, I was sure they would have great chemistry, but the one thing that made me not worried about it was that they both told me they’d been partying many, many years ago together and they’ve had a lot of fun. I was like, “Yeah, I think you’ll be fine.” [Laughs]

Especially in the lavish New York fundraising circle!

Yeah, no, they can party.

Let’s get into the helicopter-car chase scene. Wow. “The Undoing” really turned into an action flick! What was it like for you to shoot that ending sequence?

It took a lot of work. The crucial thing was that it needed an action beat but it also needed to be totally cohesive to the story. The most important thing and the reason why making that action beat was that we needed to understand how insane Jonathan actually was; how much of a sociopath he was and how delusional in a way he was. I mean, kind of kidnapping his own son to take him on this last ride, it’s just such a crazy, but also oddly human thing to do. It seemed like the right thing to do.

You truly see this toxic father-son dynamic play out in this scene between Noah Jupe and Hugh. You’re witnessing Jonathan’s “undoing,” particularly when he throws Henry’s name out there as a possible killer before he kidnaps him. How did you want to capture their relationship during this car chase?

Well, you kind of wonder, did Jonathan ever love his family? Or was it more their love for him which sort of fed him in the way sociopaths occasionally function? And I think that was the case. He, in his own delusional self, thinks that Henry is enjoying this. You know? When Henry even says, “You murdered a person,” Jonathan says, “Well, it wasn’t really me.” How crazy, how insane is that?

It goes back to the idea that we only see what we want to ― Henry really wanted to believe his dad was the good guy. But, nope, the cheating husband did it. 

Tell me about capturing that essence of New York ― that wealthy, Upper East Side feel was palpable the entire run. It all feels nostalgic now, in light of COVID.

It’s funny you say that. We were very, very careful with every decision, and we had some very good inside sources that belong to that world that were helping us. I mean, it was down to what brand of gym shoes Henry would be wearing to school. So we were very, very meticulous about every single decision.

But we had almost finished editing in London when the pandemic struck and I went back to Copenhagen. The editor had a little edit [suite] in his apartment in London, and so we finished the edit by FaceTiming. And then in the late summer when the pandemic seemed to be quieting down and travel opened up again, I went back to London in order to mix the whole series. So I sat in the cinema and watched all six hours in a row and it was oddly nostalgic. Even if it was shot one year earlier, it felt so nostalgic. People were kissing, they weren’t wearing masks, they were touching. And it was just such a different world and felt completely different with everything [the city] had gone through. It was very weird and kind of oddly romantic, actually.

Yeah, because now we’re seeing so many shows made in or featuring the pandemic, with characters wearing face masks, etc. “The Undoing” was one of the only prestige limited series to come out in 2020, but it also took place in the Before Times. So, it just felt extra special. Did you feel that way too, just seeing the response from viewers who tuned in every week?

I just felt that excitement, whether it was because of that or the story or the characters? It’s just been crazy; it’s been growing every single week. I’ve had so many people asking me [about it] ― even my parents who would never watch anything like that. My father will only watch sort of documentary things and my dad had a new theory every week about who had done it. [Laughs]

From left: Hugh Grant, Noma Dumezweni, Nicole Kidman, Noah Jupe and Donald Sutherland in "The Undoing."



From left: Hugh Grant, Noma Dumezweni, Nicole Kidman, Noah Jupe and Donald Sutherland in “The Undoing.”

We watched the life of the privileged unravel on this show, which is a compelling concept. We saw how the Frasers used their power to get what they wanted ― prep school admission, beach homes, helicopter rides. I mean, thanks to his wealthy father-in-law’s top-notch lawyer (played by the wonderful Noma Dumezweni), Jonathan almost got away with the murder!

He almost got away with it! That’s why Édgar Ramírez, who plays the detective, is so fed up with this sort of upper class privilege. He’s so annoyed with Grace and kind of aggressive with her because he’s so fed up with feeling that they’re being resistant. I mean, he’s trying to solve a murder case and they are trying to save their own asses, excuse my language.

I think you captured the life of the Franklin Reinhardt types very well. Lastly, could you see a second season coming out of this or do you respect the limited series approach?

Here’s the thing: For me? I would love to. But at this point, there has been no conversation about it at all. From my point of view, it’s just wishful thinking and, I mean, I’m capable of wishing Father Christmas is real so … [Laughs] I will allow myself to be that wishful thinker knowing that’s exactly what it is.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.





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Steve Martin, Martin Short Trade Insults In Lively ‘Tonight Show’ Interview

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Comedy icons Steve Martin and Martin Short didn’t ease up on the jabs as they took turns making fun of each other ― and Jimmy Fallon ― during a late night interview on Thursday.

After an introduction from Fallon, Short went directly after the host, calling him “James Kanye Fallon,” a comedian with the easiest late night show “to fall asleep to.”

Gesturing to the audience, Short added, “Really, tell everyone what you were telling about why it’s finally the right time to suspend the Constitution,” in reference to Donald Trump’s comments this week.

Short, who joined Martin in a roast of Fallon’s appearance, later mocked his own look and said his striped socks looked like “Margaret Hamilton wore [them] in ‘The Wizard of Oz.’”

Martin later jokingly weighed in on the holidays and explained that his favorite part of decorating the tree is putting “a little, tiny star on top.”

“And thank you for being up there, I know that could get uncomfortable,” said Martin as he patted Short on the shoulder.

Watch more of the comedic pair’s hilarious interview on “The Tonight Show” below.





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Stephen Colbert Reveals The 1 Lesson Peru Can Teach America About Trump

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Stephen Colbert put the spotlight on another country and how it dealt with a president who tried to attack Congress during his monologue on Thursday.

Colbert highlighted the ousting of Peru President Pedro Castillo after he was arrested following an attempt to take control of the government by dissolving Congress this week.

Prosecutors said in a statement this week that “no authority can put itself above the Constitution” and that the country’s constitution “enshrines the separation of powers and establishes that Peru is a democratic and sovereign Republic.”

Colbert didn’t waste time on Thursday as he appeared to draw a line between Peru’s presidential controversy and former President Donald Trump’s actions during the Jan. 6 riot.

“So, you can take immediate action against a president who attacks Congress? I thought you had to dither about it for two years until he has dinner with Nazis and then still not do anything,” quipped Colbert before a hefty applause from his crowd.

Colbert later discussed Castillo’s hope to stop an investigation into his administration after he declared he would “rule by decree.”

“Of course because it was a Peruvian coup, he immediately got the support of the MyAlpaca guy,” he said.

You can watch the rest of Colbert’s monologue below.





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Trevor Noah Says Bye To ‘Daily Show’ In Teary-Eyed Tribute To Fans, Black Women

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Trevor Noah, departing host of “The Daily Show,” said goodbye to his beloved late night program after seven years on Thursday night.

Noah, who took the helm as a replacement for previous host Jon Stewart, addressed fans – and haters – in an emotional farewell episode that also included his correspondents giving him props one last time.

The final episode aired despite Comedy Central not naming a new host, or hosts, who will lead the program beginning on Jan. 17.

The South African comedian told his audience that he’s grateful for every single one of his supporters and reflected on the show’s struggles to fill seats, a contrast to recent crowds at tapings, he said.

His farewell address, however, specifically focused on his praise and support for Black women. Noah reflected on the love that his mother, grandmother, aunt and others have shown him over the years.

“If you truly want to learn about America, you talk to Black women,” he said.

“Because unlike everybody else, Black women can’t afford to fuck around and find out. Black people understand how hard it is, when things go bad, especially in America but any place that Black people exist…”

Noah continued: “When things go bad, Black people know that it gets worse for them. But Black women in particular, they know what shit is, genuinely.”

He suggested that talking to Black women could guide people looking for the best or the most equitable way to do something in their lives.

You can watch part of Noah’s goodbye message below.





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Prince Harry On Why He Feels Guilty About Meghan Markle’s Relationship With Her Dad

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“It’s incredibly sad what happened; she had a father before this and now she doesn’t have a father,” the Duke of Sussex said. “And I shouldered that because if Meg wasn’t with me, then her dad would still be her dad.”

Harry and Meghan discussed her rocky relationship with her father — and the drama leading up to her wedding day with Harry in 2018 — in the episode.

Thomas Markle, who said he had a heart attack days before the wedding, did not actually attend the ceremony. He has since given several interviews about Harry and Meghan to the press.

During the episode, Meghan also said that she and Harry had called her father before their wedding to ask him if he was staging photos for the press and that he had denied it.

Meghan said that she told Harry after they got off the phone with her father that she didn’t believe him.

“And I’m finding out that you’re not coming to our wedding, through a tabloid!” she said later in the episode after sharing that she had repeatedly called her father, to no avail.





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Netflix, Royals Clash Over ‘Harry & Meghan’ Contact Disclaimer

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Neither Kensington Palace nor Buckingham Palace were contacted by Netflix as the streaming giant claims in a disclaimer that begins the new series “Harry & Meghan,” a palace source told HuffPost.

The first episode of the docuseries, which premiered on Thursday, opens with a black-and-white statement that reads: “Members of the Royal Family declined to comment on the content in this series.”

A royal source told HuffPost that Netflix made no attempt to contact members of the royal household, Kensington Palace or Buckingham Palace.

London-based CNN correspondent Max Foster reported Kensington Palace did receive an email from what purported to be a third-party production company, “but they couldn’t verify it so didn’t respond.”

A Netflix source insisted to HuffPost that both King Charles and Prince William’s offices were contacted and were given time to respond ahead of the docuseries release.

Kensington Palace had no comment, and Buckingham Palace did not return a request for comment.

HuffPost has reached out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell organization.

More revelations from Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan:”





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Meghan Markle Says Engagement Interview With Harry Was ‘An Orchestrated Reality Show’

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Meghan Markle shed insight into her and Prince Harry’s 2017 engagement interview, revealing in the third episode of the couple’s new Netflix series released Thursday that the BBC piece was an “orchestrated reality show.”

“It was, you know, rehearsed,” the Duchess of Sussex said of the couple’s first joint interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain, as footage played and also showed the couple posing for cameras during their engagement announcement.

“We did the thing out with the press, and then we went right inside, took the coat off, sat down and did the interview,” Meghan explained. “So it’s all in that same moment.”

“You mean just like prepping you that they’re gonna ask this, this, this, or how does that work?” a voice asks the couple in the episode.

Prince Harry stands with his fiancée Meghan Markle as she shows off her engagement ring whilst they pose for a photograph in the Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace on Nov. 27, 2017.

DANIEL LEAL via Getty Images

“Yeah, but also, ‘Then, they’ll be a moment where they’ll wanna see the ring, so show the ring,’” Meghan continued, as Netflix cut to footage of Harry speaking about the main diamond from the ring being sourced from Botswana, and that the diamonds on the sides of the main stone were from his mother’s jewelry collection.

“My point is we weren’t allowed to tell our story, because they didn’t want our [story],” Meghan says, as Harry interjects and says, “We’ve never been allowed to tell our story” and the couple laugh.

“That’s true,” Meghan said with a smile, as Harry added, “That’s the consistency.”

“That is consistent. Yeah. Until now,” Meghan pointedly adds.

In the first episode of the series, the two spoke about meeting each other over Instagram.

Harry said that he first spotted a video of a friend with Meghan ― who was partially obscured by a dog-ear filter in the clip ― and thought “Who is that?”

When the friend told Meghan that the prince was interested in meeting, she revealed that she scrolled through Prince Harry’s social media feed.

“I went through, and it was just like beautiful photography and all these environmental shots, and this time he was spending in Africa,” she said.

Meghan later added that the prince had a list of qualities he was looking for in a partner, but the prince refused to elaborate further.

“Let’s not go there,” he said firmly. “Not sharing the list.”

More revelations from Netflix’s “Harry & Meghan:”





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Stephen Colbert Dusts Off Old Jokes In Epic Takedown Of Herschel Walker

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Colbert dusted off an envelope full of jokes and pointed out that the enveloped was “sealed with wax” before firing off joke after joke about the race which Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) won on Tuesday.

“Warnock has won Georgia, it’s fitting he’s a reverend because when I hear that all I can say is ‘thank God,’” Colbert quipped.

“This is a tough break for Walker though it will take him a couple of days to understand what has happened.”

He continued: “With this loss, Walker is supposed to return to his previous job, lying about having previous jobs, but on the bright side, it gives him more time to spend with his family and more time to figure out who that is.”

You can listen to more of Colbert’s jokes about the Senate race below.





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