‘Home Before Dark’ – Father/daughter dynamic at heart of Apple murder mystery
If print journalism has a future, it might lie with young Hilde Lisko.
As played by Brooklynn Prince (“Monsters at Large”) in the Apple TV+ mystery series “Home Before Dark,” which begins streaming Friday, April 3, she’s a nine-year-old investigative reporter and editor of her own newspaper who thinks critically, strives to see things as they really are and questions everything.
It’s obvious where she gets those instincts from. Her dad, Matthew (Jim Sturgess, “Hard Sun”), was a reporter for a major New York newspaper until he lost his job and thus was forced to relocate west with Hilde, wife Bridget (Abby Miller, “Justified”) and other daughters Izzy and Ginny (Kylie Rogers, Mila Morgan) to his lakeside hometown. It is there where Hilde’s nose for the news kicks in as she latches onto an unsolved murder case from years earlier that many in the sleepy burg, Matthew included, would just as soon keep buried.
The story is inspired by the real-life reporting of young investigative journalist Hilde Lysiak and her relationship with her father, Matthew, a former crime reporter for the New York Daily News. That father-daughter dynamic is at the heart of this series and so when the part of Matthew was cast, Prince – who had already been tabbed to play Hilde – was asked which actor she preferred.
“I could just tell that he was fun,” the young actress says of the British Sturgess, “and that he was going to actually be the one. And at the end of the day, they’re like, ‘Which one did you like most?’ I’m like, ‘I like Jim Sturgess.’ ”
“I think it was so important for them and for everybody involved that that kind of dynamic was going to work,” adds Sturgess, a bachelor with no children of his own, “because it was so at the forefront of the show. But yeah, it was crazy. We spent a few hours, I think, just kind of hanging out, telling each other stories. We did some improvisation stuff and we read a couple of the scenes … and people are filming you doing it while you’re hanging out. It was kind of weird.”
The two actors also had access to the real-life players. While Sturgess had limited time with Matthew Lysiak, he immediately saw his real-life counterpart’s journalistic instincts come to the fore. “He ends up asking you more questions about you than I got to ask about him,” Sturgess says. “He was way more fascinated and wanted to know about my life. I was like, ‘No, no, no. I’m supposed to be learning about your life.’ ”
Meanwhile, Prince bore witness to the precocious Hilde’s enormous vocabulary. “She says stuff like ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’ That is so super-fancy and for a nine-year-old, you’d expect them to be playing with Barbies and just discovering the world and playing in the world. And you look at Hilde and she’s a journalist and she is doing all these amazing things and you’re like, ‘Wow! She’s only nine years old.’ ”
Together, they’re a force of two, which is also what both actors wanted to replicate.
“If you ever see Hilde and Matt together,” Sturgess says, “it’s really quite special. It’s really special to see them sort of interact with each other and they seem so connected as as a force.”