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Jim Sturgess, Brooklynn Prince hope grown-ups let kids lead

Jim Sturgess stars in the Apple TV+ original series Home Before Dark. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Jim Sturgess stars in the Apple TV+ original series "Home Before Dark." File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, April 3 (UPI) -- Home Before Dark tells the story of an investigative reporter who is in the fourth grade. Brooklynn Prince plays Hilde Lisko and Jim Sturgess, plays her father, Matt, and hopes the show empowers more children to become leaders.

"I think the kids are teaching the adults quite a lot at the moment," Sturgess told UPI in a phone interview. "There's a lot of young triggerheads at the moment, Greta Thunberg being a very obvious one. The innocence and the purity of their perspective is one that we shouldn't push to one side."

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Hilde is inspired by the real-life girl who made an impact in the adult world. Hilde Lysiak is a young journalist who published her own local newspaper, the Orange Street News, when she was 8 years old. She won the Zenger Award for Press Freedom.

"I did a lot of research on her," Prince said. "I called her, I talked to her, and that gave me that sense of who Hilde was."

The case in the series is fictional, but the show takes some inspiration from Lysiak's real life. When Lysiak found negative comments on her online paper, she made a video reading the comments aloud. On Home Before Dark, Hilde reads her negative comments live in the school cafeteria.

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Prince said she drew inspiration from the real Hilde.

"I think she's such a strong person," Prince said. "That time that I watched the video, that stayed in my head. When people knock her down, she gets back up and she says, 'You say no. I say yes.'"

The real Matt Lysiak also was a journalist who encouraged his daughter in the family business. Matt Lisko is more of an invention, but Sturgess met the real Lysiaks, too.

"Matt's a reporter, so he ended up sort of interviewing me more than I probably interviewed him," Sturgess said. "I'm much more [of the type to] stand on the sideline and watch what's happening, just watching the dynamic with him and his daughter, how they interact with each other."

Hilde Lisko publishes her own news website, as well. When she believes a local death is not an accident, the adult police do not appreciate her investigation. Prince will turn 10 on May 4 and she can relate to feeling underestimated in her field, too.

"I want to be a director," Prince said in a separate phone interview. "There's a lot of people that have told me no -- that I've pitched them ideas and they're like, 'Oh, that's cute.' Every time someone has told me no or someone doubts me, I think about Hilde and I'm like, 'I can do this because she did it, so I'm going to do it.'"

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At first, Matt hopes his daughter stops causing trouble. Gradually, he begins to support her, first by giving her a camera to aid her investigation. By the middle of the season, Matt believes Hilde is on the right track to expose a town conspiracy.

"It's really Hilde, his daughter, that sort of encourages him and helps him to face up to these sort of dark demons that lurk within the community of the town," Sturgess said. "Through that, he definitely connects with his daughter on a very powerful level."

Hilde is wise enough to see how much Matt needs to be on the case again. He was a journalist before moving his family back to his hometown.

"I think she's really mad at her dad because he's not getting into journalism," Prince said. "She feels really sad for him, and I think it makes her more loving. She's been always really loving to her dad but [she becomes] more vulnerable to him, and [the case] brings them closer together."

Playing father and daughter made Sturgess and Prince closer than co-stars normally become.

"He's like my second dad," Prince said.

Sturgess was touched to learn that Prince said that about him. He'd played a father on his previous series, Hard Sun, and appreciated that Home Before Dark focused on the father-daughter relationship

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"I've always really enjoyed the fact that you really have to create the world and create the relationships and the dynamics for the kids," Sturgess said. "So to play a character where that dynamic and that relationship is at the forefront of the story was just so rewarding for me. I loved every minute."

Another trait Home Before Dark incorporated from the real Hilde was her love of the film, All the President's Men. Both Lysiak and the fictional Hilde Lisko have seen the film 36 times. Prince has not yet seen it.

"Hilde's pretty cool, and she's seen it 36 times, so the movie must be pretty cool," Prince said. "I just want to watch it."

Home Before Dark premieres April 3 on Apple TV+ with all 10 episodes of Season 1 available. Season 2 is in production.

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