Jon M. Chu & Dana Fox on 'Home Before Dark's Central Father-Daughter Relationship (VIDEO)
The 10-episode series tells the story of nine-year-old Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) and her Brooklyn-based family, who relocate to her father Matt's (Jim Sturgess) coastal hometown when he's fired as a reporter. Upon their arrival, old acquaintances of Matt's resurface, stirring up mystery and intrigue for his aspiring journalist young daughter, who is determined to uncover the truth at any cost.
But surely, this has to be a story rooted in fiction, right? Actually, it's inspired by the investigative reporting of Hilde Lysiak, a real young girl who influenced the show's premise. "[Executive producer] Joy [Gorman] was just so astounded by her and thought she was inspirational, to be so young and so driven to find the truth and be a journalist," Fox says of how Hilde's story came to the small screen.
"I had just had a daughter. And so, I was going through all those emotions like, 'I have a responsibility to raise this little girl. And what do I want her to see, and how do I live differently?'" director and executive producer Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) says of how he became involved with the series. "I just love those questions. Like, truth is important and we teach that to our kids. And yet, we lie to them the most. And [there's a] bigger message to it all."
The tone of the show is Nancy Drew meets every great mystery thriller from your childhood, Fox says, "I really, desperately wanted to get back to that feeling... the things that you watched, all on the couch with your whole family. And that you knew that you weren't really old enough to be watching," offering Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. as examples. "You were sitting next to your parents. So you felt safe, and it was okay" — that's what Home Before Dark is.
Home Before Dark's heroine is a "revolutionary act," Fox maintains. "I have yet to be able to name a show or a movie that has a young female heroine at its core that takes this character that seriously, and isn't a young female who can shoot lasers out of her eyes."
"The younger you go with your main character, the harder it is to keep it interesting for adults for some random reason," Chu says before adding, "But when you meet Brooklynn, it sets the tone. You meet Brooklynn, and she embodies Hilde's spirit, and has her own energy, in itself."
Prince's Hilde has no fear when it comes to her truth-revealing mission. "I think part of where the stakes of this show come from is that Hilde doesn't even realize how serious the adult mystery that she's poking into is. She's actually asking questions that are going to be really bad, if certain people answer truthfully," Fox teases.
This no-fear attitude carries over to the bond between Hilde and her father Matt. "We knew that the father and daughter relationship was at the center of this all," Chu says. "So putting Brooklynn [Prince] in the room with Jim [Sturgess], it was very obvious from the moment they met, that they had this kinship."
"I remember our first table read," Chu adds, "we were like, 'Oh my gosh, those family scenes are going to be awesome, because they are giving each other s**t like a family. And they are loving like a family.' It's all in for them. And I just love that about it."
Because Hilde and Matt are both driven by a need to uncover the truth, there's a different aspect to their father-daughter relationship. "You can have those heartfelt family moments and a scene where a father is talking to his daughter like she's a coworker," Fox reasons (this part of their relationship can be seen in the clip, below). "And I actually find it incredibly emotional, that he talks to her like that."
Since the show has already been renewed, with Season 2 planning underway, viewers can rest assured that any unanswered mysteries will be carried through to the next chapter. "The first season concludes with a very satisfying explanation of the mystery that we set about trying to solve. But, what you realize is that, it isn't the end of the story. It's actually the beginning of a much bigger story," Fox promises.
In the meantime, all 10 episodes of the show will be available to stream at once — a change from its three-episode premiere with additional installments dropping weekly. And it's the perfect time to binge."I'm excited for people to have fun with the whole family at a time where they need light in the world, and to be inspired. I think this [show] has both, but at the same time, it has a juicy true crime feel to it." Sign us up.
Home Before Dark, Season 1, Available Friday, April 3, Apple TV+