Alison Boshoff: Gugu Mbatha-Raw plunges into breathtaking role in underwater drama Surface 

Alison Boshoff: Gugu Mbatha-Raw plunges into breathtaking role in underwater drama Surface

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not one to flinch from a challenge. In Surface, a bingeable new offering from Apple TV+, Mbatha-Raw plays Sophie, a woman who has lost the memories of a lifetime after apparently throwing herself from the deck of a ferry. The question is: did she jump, or was she pushed? And who is she, really?

The RADA-trained actress spent hours in a tank of water to shoot the arresting opening sequence for the show — the first three episodes of which will air tonight.

And she reveals that even though she had a stunt double, ‘I did a chunk of it myself, which was really intense’.

Made by Reese Witherspoon‘s Hello Sunshine TV company, like her previous mega-hit Big Little Lies, Surface offers a gripping, twisting psychological mystery, told in the context of an oh-so-aspirational lifestyle — this time in San Francisco.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not one to flinch from a challenge. In Surface, a bingeable new offering from Apple TV+, Mbatha-Raw plays Sophie

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is not one to flinch from a challenge. In Surface, a bingeable new offering from Apple TV+, Mbatha-Raw plays Sophie

Less desirable, though, were the dousings. ‘Every week, Sophie would get soaked in a very dramatic way,’ Mbatha-Raw said. ‘Like, it would be either the underwater sequence, or a bath scene, or a shower scene, or it was raining or we were on a boat.

‘Water is thematically the element that runs all the way through the show. I’ve never done any underwater acting before and it’s way more challenging than it looks — I think because you’re literally out of your element.

‘All of the usual tools that you use — how you move your face, how you breathe, all the basic things that you hopefully forget about when you’re normally acting — are completely contorted underwater. Your eyes are bulging, you’re focused on staying alive.

‘I worked with a free dive expert, who trained me in breath-holding techniques, but it was definitely one of the more challenging stunt sequences I’ve done.’

In an earlier interview, the Brit said when the going gets tough, she tells herself: ‘Come on, Gugs!’

Mbatha-Raw has recently finished filming Seacole, a drama based on the life of pioneering Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole, who cared for wounded British soldiers during the Crimean War.

The RADA-trained actress spent hours in a tank of water to shoot the arresting opening sequence for the show — the first three episodes of which will air tonight

The RADA-trained actress spent hours in a tank of water to shoot the arresting opening sequence for the show — the first three episodes of which will air tonight

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