[Interviews] The Time Traveler’s Wife Creator Steven Moffat and Director David Nutter Talk Love Stories and Making Henrys Interactions Seamless

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HBO’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, the second adaption of Audrey Niffenegger best-selling novel of the same name, explores the love story of Henry and Clare in the 6-episode first season. Henry and Clare are your standard couple except one catch, Henry times travels. I talked to creator Steven Moffat and director David Nutter dealing with multiple Henry and telling an unconventional love story.

How did you guys decide when was the right time for the Henrys to interact with each other? And how was it like to direct that?

Steven Moffat (Creator): It’s irresistible to bring the Henrys face-to-face. It doesn’t happen that much in the book as you know, but it happens more often in the TV show because visually it helped to have them both on the screen to show that these guys are a bit different and they don’t even get on that well.

David Nutter (Director): It’s also a situation where it starts back with casting and the actor who is going to do this. You have to find someone that can play the different characters because each one has their specific way about them and who they are. Different vocals, different emotions, different feelings. Theo James had it all in spades and understood that very well. So it was a situation where even how Steven wrote it, for these characters to ping pong things back and forth, and I think made things very entertaining. And I wanted to make it seamless. Not that there was a still shot and two people are in the same frame. I wanted the camera to move and for them to move and disperse with also and make it seamless and not an effect and that was most important. Making it feel real was the most important element and I think we succeeded with that.

Once Rose meets Henry when she’s 20, they know they will fall in love and be married, but they don’t seem to like each other at this point in time. How did you decide to go with that approach that they’re in love but they don’t like each other yet?

Steven: The one that has the real problem is Clare because she has a very clear idea about what this man is like and she hasn’t been through the thing that most young women have is that the man they like isn’t quite how they will like them to be. That’s a very normal situation, that happens to everyone but she has an extreme version because the first version of Henry that she ever meet is the man she later creates. He just flows around her into he becomes the man she wants and then she’s like “hey, I didn’t get the love of my life, I got some raw materials that’s going to take some effort.” To be honest, that’s how the way it goes for everyone, isn’t it? Especially because young men are awful. Young men have to be trained. That’s fine and it’s fun, but it’s normally not such a surprise. I think Henry was pretty struck with Clare from the start. A gorgeous redhead announcing they’re the love of your life is alarming but there are clearly some good times ahead in the short term. Men really don’t think much farther ahead than that so he’s quite enthused. For Clare there is a slight disappointment is that he’s not who I thought he would be. By episodes 2 and 3 she starts to realize that underneath it all he is. But for Henry, it’s two things. One is that there is this gorgeous woman saying “I’m your future” and a huge radical thought is “I have a real future, I have something great. Normally what I get told is something bloody awful, but now I got the winning lottery ticket.” So it’s a very different experience for the two. 

Read my interview with stars Theo James and Rose Leslie here.

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Watch The Time Traveler’s Wife on HBO and HBO Max on Sundays.

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