Jim Sturgess Discusses Being “Home Before Dark” (And, Currently, At All Other Times, Too)

Jim SturgessPhoto Credit: Apple TV+

At this strange moment in time, Jim Sturgess is home before dark in more ways than one. The English actor is not only starring in Apple TV+‘s new series, which is aptly titled Home Before Dark, but he and his wife are quarantining at their temporary home in Vancouver, 24-7. While he himself has been soaking up documentaries like Tiger King and Along for the Ride, those at home should definitely check out his edge-of-your-seat, inspired-by-a-true-story dramatic mystery, which follows a young girl (Brooklynn Prince) who moves from Brooklyn to the small lakeside town her father (Sturgess) left behind. While there, her dogged pursuit of the truth leads her to unearth a cold case that everyone in town—including her own father—tried hard to bury. The show is executive produced by Jon M. Chu of In The Heights and Crazy Rich Asians fame. Here, we chatted with Sturgess, who’s appeared in films like 21, Cloud Atlas and Across the Universe, about life in lockdown, Tiger King and why (in one way, at least), being home before dark is actually the best thing ever.

Jim SturgessPhoto Credit: Apple TV+

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. How are you riding out the coronavirus quarantine?

I’m riding out this lockdown in Vancouver at the moment. We had already started shooting the second season of Home Before Dark when the production got shut down and put on hiatus, so I wasn’t able to get back home to London before the borders closed. It definitely adds another dimension to the experience not being in your own city and home, surrounded by your own things. Right now i’m in a one-bedroom apartment on the 32nd floor of a high rise building. It’s both a blessing and a curse as I don’t have as much space to shift around in. But I do have some amazing views of the city… which is keeping me sane right now.

Time is a fairly big concept for us, and many people always say that time is the greatest luxury in life. Now that you have more time on your hands in quarantine, how are you using it? Have you discovered any new hobbies, caught up on your spring cleaning, watched a ton of TV? Have you, like most of the world, watched “Tiger King”?

I think like most people when they discovered they were given this foreign concept of uninterrupted ’time’ I jumped at the idea of using it to learn a new skill or be productive in some way. But I think I quickly realized that by doing that to myself and adding that pressure I was destroying the very thing that had been handed to me.. ’uninterrupted time’. I’m usually pretty busy back home in London or I’m away a lot on various filming projects so to stay home with my wife, who thankfully is here with me, and to just spend some time together is an unusual but welcomed concept for both of us. First thing I did was I eyed up the dining room table to see It could double up as a ping pong table…which i’m pleased to say it does! I ordered some bats and a ball and made a net out of books.. so hours of ‘uninterrupted time’ is being wasted playing ping-pong. Other than that i’ve been doodling in my sketchbook and writing nonsense, reading, listening to music and watching movies. It’s been fun re-watching old movies from my youth too. We watched a Dennis Hopper documentary called Along for the Ride and then proceeded to watch only Dennis Hopper films after that. It’s definitely interesting to watch the different film choices an actor makes throughout their careers. This is all just so crazy though isn’t it. I keep reminding myself what a momentous moment in time this is. Or could be? I guess that depends on how we come back from it. As for Tiger King…. the minute I saw that man’s lightening bolt mullet, I knew it was TV gold.

So let’s talk about “Home Before Dark”. Why is this the kind of escapism that America needs right now?

I think Home Before Dark has touched on something quite special in terms of how we perceive a ‘family show.’ To me that always felt like a bit of a dirty word. The idea that there is something for ALL the family to enjoy conjures up a feeling of mediocrity.. But the show runners and writers have really found an interesting way to create something emotional, intriguing, challenging and playful. The main protagonist in the show is a 9 year old girl but that in no means makes it a kids show… even though kids that age could watch it. The show doesn’t look down on the kids. It’s from a child’s perspective but that perspective is treated with integrity and how they might view the adult world. Which in life, and in the show, is full of deceit, lies, secrets and mystery. The family in the show feels very real too I think. They have their ups and downs. There’s lots of perspectives. It dares to go to some emotional places and doesn’t shy away from embracing the kids adventure either. it’s also based on a true story. It’s like a combination of a nostalgic Amblin ’Spielberg’-type movie mixed with a twisted true crime documentary on Netflix. So yeah, it really is the perfect show to watch together on lockdown right now. Great for the ‘whole’ family!

Jim SturgessPhoto Credit: Apple TV+

What drew you to the project? Are you a true crime aficionado? Was it working with Jon M. Chu?

In all honesty I think the first thing that drew me into the project was that the young actress, who was playing the lead role, was Brooklynn Prince. I had seen her in the film The Florida Project and was so blown away by her performance in that. How raw and real she felt. Before i’d even read the script it had instantly caught my attention. Also the fact that it was going to be directed by Jon Chu was definitely a draw for me. He had just come off the back of Crazy Rich Asians so I knew the project had to be exciting and interesting enough for him to be involved at this time in his life. I then read the first 2 episodes and was definitely getting sucked in.. It wasn’t until I met with Jon and the producers that I discovered that it was actually based on a true story, which to me always heightens my intrigue even more. I did some improv and workshops with Brooklynn and Jon showed me a presentation of what he wanted to achieve with the look and feel of the show. We definitely discussed our shared passion from true crime dramas.. but Jon’s vision for the show had a touch of magic and eeriness to the reality of the world, which heightened what was on the page even more. It felt very exciting.

AppleTV+ is a relatively new platform. Why do you think Home Before Dark fits with the AppleTV+ audience?

I’m not really sure I know what an AppleTV+ audience actually is? I guess Apple are such an intrinsic part of a lot of families, in terms of their phones and their computers in the household. All members of the family can use them for their own needs and get a lot out of them. They’re such diverse pieces of equipment. Both fun and complex. So with that I guess the show represents a very similar idea. The idea that the whole family can get something out of it.

What’s next for you, post-“Home Before Dark”? What does the rest of your year look like, providing COVID-19 doesn’t halt all operations?

I have a couple of independent films that have been delayed unfortunately with the corona situation. Sadly it feels, much like other industries, the arts are going to suffer somewhat after this corona situation is over and done. Alternative theatre and independent cinema looks like they might really take a hit. But who knows? It’s always so comforting to know that after a crisis people often turn to the Arts for reflection and storytelling. So who knows what the outcome will be? My passion for acting and film making has always come from the independent film scene and I always try and keep one foot in that world as much as is possible. I’ve also been working on a lot of music recently so maybe I might do something with that?

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

I think the greatest luxury in life is to have a ping-pong table at home. It just seems like a luxury item when the dining room table will suffice.