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Lauren Ambrose: 'Servant' S4 shows a 'control freak' at everyone's mercy

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New episodes of Season 4 of Lauren Ambrose's "Servant" air on Fridays. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+
New episodes of Season 4 of Lauren Ambrose's "Servant" air on Fridays. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

NEW YORK, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Lauren Ambrose says viewers will see her busy and ambitious character, Dorothy, in a completely new light in the fourth and final season of the psychological thriller, Servant.

Executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan and created by Tony Bagsgallop, the show follows wealthy Philadelphia couple Dorothy and Sean (Toby Kebbell,) who hire mysterious nanny Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to care for a life-like doll Dorothy believes is their infant son Jericho.

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In reality, Jericho died in a horrific accident Dorothy's memory has repressed.

When a real baby appears in their home, Dorothy doesn't seem to notice anything amiss while Sean, Dorothy's brother, Julian (Grint), and TV viewers try to figure out what is going on.

Each season, Leanne gains more control over the family as a dangerous religious cult repeatedly tries to bring her back into its fold.

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Season 3 ended with Leanne catching Dorothy as she tries to sneak out of the house with Jericho in the middle of the night, causing her to suffer catastrophic injuries when she tumbles over the railing of the staircase.

"I fell off the balcony through the banister down through the amazing staircase, which is basically a character of its own," Ambrose recapped for UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"It was quite a thing to film, of course. It required lots of exciting equipment, dropping me in harnesses. It was very cool. The stunt people did some amazing things for that."

Season 4 picks up with Dorothy "at the beginning of a very slow and painful recovery process," the actress said.

Leanne is eager to play nursemaid to her injured boss, which doesn't really make her feel much better.

"So many awful things happen to this character, but to now take away the things she values the most as a control freak -- her ability to do and do for herself and now she is truly at the mercy of everyone else in the house -- is terrifying," Ambrose said of Dorothy.

"We play into those wonderful horror themes we've seen in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Misery and Nurse Ratchett [from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest], and getting to do those scenes with Nell was great," she said.

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"Stripping away her ability to do for herself is what it takes for this perfectionist person to actually look at the truth of her life and what happened and face this grief. It is quite literally a healing process and the metaphor speaks for the whole house."

In the final episodes of the series, Sean is seen trying to care for his fractured family while juggling his career as a celebrity chef.

Strange as it may sound, Kebbell doesn't think Sean and Dorothy would have been better off had Leanne never come into their lives.

"That's what ultimately pushes us to this final crisis point," the actor said of the creepy nanny's arrival.

"We see in Season 4, we are answering so many of the questions that have been asked," he added.

"I think had she not arrived, [Jericho's death] may never have been addressed or they would have just drifted apart. Funnily enough, Season 4 is where Sean and Dorothy get back together. They get close."

Kebbell said that in past seasons, Dorothy always was rushing off somewhere for her job as a local TV news reporter and too preoccupied to hear anything important Sean might have to say, making it difficult for the couple to connect.

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Since her accident, she is somewhat of a captive audience.

"It's so interesting to get to play those things because now Sean finally has a place where he starts to realize she is listening. She has no choice. She's not going anywhere. She's not thinking about the next thing she is doing. She's finally able to listen," Kebbell said.

"It's really about getting the courage up, for Sean, to actually confront the major problem."

Kebbell and Ambrose admitted it was difficult letting go of these complicated characters and saying goodbye to the show's small, tight-knit ensemble once filming wrapped up last year.

"It was very emotional," Kebbell said. "It was sweet. It was nice to have gotten to the end. It was gratifying to complete something fully, find some completion in our work, which is rare for us as actors."

Ambrose said teaming up with other artists to create something special is always an intense experience, but working on Servant was even more so because it was done largely during the coronavirus pandemic.

"There were times when we were living and working together in a bubble to accomplish this show," she recalled.

"There have been births and deaths, just a lot of big things, pandemic stuff, that brought us together and I'm just so grateful to these beautiful artists that I got to spend time with and grow as an actor.

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"It was such a tiny cast, and we really spent so much of our working days together on this one set, quite frequently on location, so we were really all cooped up in that house on that sound stage for all that time together and really found our way together."

New episodes of Servant Season 4 premiere Friday nights on Apple TV+

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