Backstage With The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart showrunner Sarah Lambert | Ents & Arts News

Aug 5, 2023 | Entertainment, News

The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart is not an easy watch – the cinematography is beautiful and there’s a powerful performance from Sigourney Weaver, but the themes are tough, with the series looking at violence against women and children, often at the hands of men that they love.

The drama, which is based on a book of the same name, tells the story of nine-year-old Alice who is orphaned when her parents are killed in a mysterious fire.

Pic: Amazon Studios/Hugh Stewart
Pic: Amazon Studios/Hugh Stewart

Showrunner Sarah Lambert has told Sky News’ Backstage podcast how she went about treading the line between depicting what is a real issue for many, and not doing it in a way that would feel unnecessary or excessive.

“I spent a lot of time thinking about that, especially in episode one, it was a big thing when we were writing it, I was obsessed with [asking] how do you bring this to life so that it’s not gratuitous in any way?

“And I realised that the only way really to do this justice was that I wanted people to be in the skin of Alice, I wanted to write it from her perspective so that you were in a child’s perspective of everything, that you would really be in Alice’s skin from the moment we enter into this story, it’s this little girl’s version of how it felt, and so I think that was our guiding light, to be in Alice’s skin always and to show what that feels like.

“The other thing I didn’t want to do is – the thing I think is really special about the book is – that Clem, her father, is not all bad, you know what I mean? She loves him and he can be so much fun and there’s this kind of joy there and he can make extraordinary things with his hands, and he is incredibly romantic with her mother and there is love in this house, but then there’s also this horrible flipside that can come out of nowhere, and we really wanted to explore that tension, because that’s actually what kills her I think, what really, really harms Alice is just having to be on guard 24/7, that hypervigilance she has as a character and that kind of carries all the way through this story, we really wanted to do that justice.”

Lambert says finding the right balance of what to leave in and what to take out continued throughout the production of the series.

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“We were always, even on set, talking about how much violence do we show,” she said.

“In the edit we put it in, took it out, put it in, took it out, but I think in the end there is actually very little violence in that first episode, most of it happens offscreen, but that tension that is in the house is what we wanted people to feel, what it’s like to live with that tension and the aftermath.

“I hate it in shows when people get punched out and nothing happens, you sort of find the next moment, it’s not even the punch, it’s that tension that you carry in your body from then on, that trauma that then you have to live with and somehow resolve later on in your life.”

Pic: Amazon Studios/Glendyn Ivin
Pic: Amazon Studios/Glendyn Ivin

The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart is a big new series launch for Prime Video, but with US actors on strike, the usual interviews with its stars aren’t on offer.

Lambert admits it’s not easy promoting the show without her cast – including A-list actress Weaver.

“It is tricky, all of this is tricky, but [the strikes] came along and it’s a battle for writers and for actors that needs to be fought.

“And yes, you want everybody here to kind of promote your show and to get it out into the world.

“We’re very lucky that quite brilliantly they’d done so many great interviews beforehand to promote the series, you know, months and months and months ago, so they’ve been such an extraordinary cast in pulling together to promote this show and love it so much, so we actually haven’t been affected too badly … So, yeah, it’s tricky timing, but I completely understand and I’m completely behind [the strikes].”

Weaver plays Alice’s Grandmother June, a woman who has her own secrets and runs both a farm and a women’s refuge.

Lambert says the iconic actress was always her first choice for the role.

“[Weaver] just kept on coming into my mind because there’s a strength to June and an earthiness, like she’s incredibly capable, she’s a woman who works on the land, she also runs this women’s refuge,” she explained.

“There were very few actors I could think of that you would actually buy that they could do what she has to do in the series and hold that truth – because she’s incredibly complex and in the wrong hands it could go terribly, terribly wrong.

“And so, she started playing in my mind as we were writing it, and then we all put lists together and it was funny, for all the producers she was there, in every single list for everybody.”

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After that it was a question of getting the Alien star the scripts.

“There’s that terrible waiting game that you think – ‘Oh my God, is she going to like it, is she going to come on board?’ – and she read it and we had this meeting and she responded to the material so passionately.

“I think she could tell we’d almost written it for her and she responded and came on board in such an extraordinary way and she really had something to say.

“She wanted to be involved, but she really wanted to be involved, and that was wonderful for us.”

The Lost Flowers Of Alice Hart is out on Prime Video – hear our review on the latest episode of Backstage, the film and TV podcast from Sky News.

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