Sharon Horgan: 'Bad Sisters' villain has 'every bad human trait'

Sharon Horgan wrote and stars in "Bad Sisters." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 5 | Sharon Horgan wrote and stars in "Bad Sisters." File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Writer and star Sharon Horgan said the antagonist of her new show, Bad Sisters, premiering Friday on Apple TV+, represents the worst of humanity.

Horgan, Sarah Greene, Eva Birthistle and Eve Hewson play sisters who band together to kill their other sister's (Anne-Marie Duff) husband.


"He is the container of every bad human trait you could have," Horgan, 52, told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "Not just male trait -- any human trait."

John-Paul (Claes Bang), who is married to Grace (Duff), restricts Grace socially, humiliates her publicly and verbally abuses everyone around him.

Horgan called John-Paul "a bully and a coward and an idiot -- a dangerous, vain piece of work."

Bang, 55, who recently played the villain, Fjolnir, in the Viking epic, The Northman, said John-Paul is much more dangerous, noting that Fjolnir only murdered a king and usurped a kingdom, but at least he was honest about who he was.


"With this guy, he does not know that he's vile, that he's toxic," Bang said. "He's so much more dangerous because he ruins relationships and he ruins people."

However, Horgan quickly added that she did not want John-Paul to be a one-dimensional villain. So, it was important to show him as a good father.

"He's sometimes beautiful with his daughter, sometimes loving with his wife and respected at work," Horgan said. "All of those little humanities, I think, make for more of a dangerous character because he could be your next-door neighbor or a family member."

Duff, 51, said Grace is trapped in her marriage. Although she puts on a brave face, Duff suspects Grace knows deep down she's being abused.

"She knows in her very calcium that she is trapped, but she refuses to believe it," Duff said. "You may be stuck in hell, but you think, well, it's so warm on this rock. Why do I want to leave? Because you don't realize the freedom that lies outside of it."

John-Paul also is responsible for physical injuries. Bibi (Greene) implies that he is the reason she lost her left eye and wears an eyepatch, although the explanation is coming in a later episode.


"I'm actually quite blind in my other eye," said Greene, 38. "We didn't realize that until the eyepatch went on. I was stuck with it."

John-Paul also catches Ursula (Birthistle) having an affair and manipulates her with that knowledge. Birthistle, 48, said she's witnessed friends escape domineering partners, but that Bad Sisters escalated John-Paul's behavior.

"Gaslighting, for example, is something that unfortunately most of us have experienced, male or female, in relationships," Birthistle said. "We've all had friends we've realized had partners, ex-partners now, thankfully, who were not desirable."

Horgan previously dealt with relationships in trouble when she created the original half-hour comedies Catastrophe, Divorce and Shining Vale. Bad Sisters is based on the Belgian series, Clan.

Horgan had adapted a short story for an episode of Modern Love. She said she considers Bad Sisters her first adaptation, among other new territories.

"I've never made a thriller before," Horgan said. "I've never made an hour of anything before, so it was all new to me."

Bad Sisters begins with John-Paul's funeral. Then, it flashes back to six months to show how he died.

The sisters plot various types of murders, most of which fail. Horgan said she reduced the number of attempted murders in her adaptation.


"I wanted there to be half the number of dead bodies, but twice the amount of fallout for the sisters," Horgan said. "There are only so many ways you can try and kill a man and feasibly get away with it."

The title change came because Horgan was worried about the negative connotations of Clan in the United States. However, Bad Sisters defined her adaptation more accurately, Horgan said.

"I quite like the moral ambiguity of it," she said. "What they are doing is, on paper, bad, but they are very good sisters. And they're badass."

Plotting to murder John-Paul bonds Bibi, Ursula, Eva (Horgan) and Becka (Hewson) closer together at first. But then, it causes new problems.

"They all, at some points, jeopardize the whole situation in some form or other by leaving a bit of evidence, by saying too much, by being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Birthistle said. "So, their relationships get tested as a result."

Horgan still found room for comedy in Bad Sisters, but that comedy becomes more macabre because the subject is abuse and murder.

"What was challenging was where to do it. It was when and where, because I didn't want to belittle the subject matter," Horgan said. "I didn't want to belittle what was happening to Grace at the heart of this.


"But at the same time, it's a bit of a romp. It's sort of funny, inherently, in its premise."

Some such humor includes John-Paul's funeral. In the first scene of the show, Grace discovers he died with an erection, and she tries to cover it.

"Everyone had an opinion," Duff said. "I seem to remember a lot of people peering into the coffin, making adjustments."

New episodes of Bad Sisters premiere Fridays on Apple TV+.

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