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Kunal Nayyar, Elizabeth Henstridge: 'Suspicion' nightmare could happen to anyone

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Kunal Nayyar, Elizabeth Henstridge: 'Suspicion' nightmare could happen to anyone
Left to right, Tom Rhys-Harries, Kunal Nayyar, Georgina Campbell and Elizabeth Henstridge can now be seen in the thriller "Suspicion." Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

NEW YORK Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The Big Bang Theory alum Kunal Nayyar says the most disturbing aspect of his new Apple TV+ techno-thriller, Suspicion, is how realistic it is.

Debuting Friday, the show follows several London strangers -- including Nayyar's ambitious cybersecurity expert, Aadesh -- who are identified as the masked suspects in the high-profile kidnapping of the son of media mogul Katherine Newman (Uma Thurman) in New York.

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The crime was captured in a viral video that has viewers around the world weighing in on the investigation in real time, while the suspects fight to clear their names.

"We all see ourselves in the show - that it could happen to any one of us at any second of your life, and your life could get turned upside down because of the rapid rate that social media spreads," Nayyar told UPI in a Zoom interview Wednesday.

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD alum Elizabeth Henstridge plays Oxford University professor and single mom Tara in Suspicion.

"The whole series takes place over a week, so their lives are completely turned around. We hope that the audience may then think, 'That could have been me and what would I do?' It raises some pretty cool questions," the actress said.

She and her co-stars enjoyed seeing the finished series with its many locations and crisscrossing story lines.

"It was really important to all of us that these characters felt real," Henstridge explained.

"We get to see where they come from, what they care about. They all have their own motivations and their ambitions in life and then, suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere comes this social media trial, and they have no control over it."

Nayyar said, "That really is the heartbeat of the story: Do you feel empathetic towards these characters or do you not? Or does it flip? Does it switch depending on the episode?

"As the show gets on and on and on, you find yourself rooting for or against [characters] even in the same episode."

Britannia actor Tom Rhys-Harries, who plays Oxford student Eddie in Suspicion, noted that while the show asks prescient questions about the world in which we live, it doesn't necessarily offer neat, simple answers regarding how/when people are filmed without consent or how data is collected through customers' online use.

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"In this package of, hopefully, really fun, high-octane thrilling drama, we have our real big questions about social media and surveillance and how technology is developing at such an exponential rate," Rhys-Harries said.

"We haven't really caught up to how we manage that and what the duty of care we have to each other and younger people in society in terms of having no say about how they are surveiled."

One chilling scene shows a stunned Tara getting arrested as she teaches a university class. Instead of questioning what is going on or defending their professor, her students whip out their cellphones and film the ugly episode.

"I think she was in shock at that moment, honestly," Henstridge said of Tara.

"She's defiant as a character. She is so confident in herself. I don't think it was necessarily humiliating for her in a way that I would have found it humiliating. She's got a real sense of self. She assumes this is all going to be sorted out and put together."

Henstridge said she experienced an "overwhelming feeling of pride" knowing the cast and crew were able to pull together all the threads of such an intricate project during a global pandemic.

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"We all felt so lucky to be there and have a job and be doing what we love with people that we all really connected with. Shooting it during Covid meant the schedule was very different. We would skip between episodes," she recalled.

"Watching it, I just thought: 'Oh, my gosh, I can't believe we did it and it came out and it worked! It makes sense!'"

Former Americans star Noah Emmerich plays Scott, an FBI agent involved in the kidnapping investigation at the heart of Suspicion.

"He's an interesting character because he is out of his element right away," Emmerich said.

"He's used to being in charge. He has a lot of experience, a lot of autonomy in the bureau and he runs his investigations his way. But here he is across the pond. He has one hand tied behind his back. He's not allowed to be in charge. He's supposed to be observing, not meddling. But he can't resist."

Emmerich emphasizes the show does an excellent job demonstrating how technology can both help and hinder law enforcement.

"It's a giant help. There's just so much data. You can actually put together a person's daily life through technology, social media, cellphones, surveillance cameras," Emmerich said.

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"The other side of that is that it can be coincidentally confusing. How would any of our lives stand up to the scrutiny that these characters are placed under?" he added.

"How easy it is to infer guilt or suspicion. It makes you take stock and think for a minute about how quickly we accuse, how quickly we pile on."

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