Jumping in a freezing cold body of water will definitely send adrenaline through your system, and if you’re making a TV show, it could also help inspire a great idea — like where to shoot a significant scene. That’s the story behind a key set location in the Apple TV+ series “Bad Sisters,” creator Sharon Horgan revealed in the latest installment of TheWrap’s video series “How I Did It,” which is sponsored by Apple TV+.
“Being in a swimsuit and then freezing your t–ts off … I thought, ‘Why? Why did I do it?” Horgan, the creator, writer, executive producer and lead actress in “Bad Sisters,” said of deciding to film the series in Dublin Bay, an inlet of the Irish Seas on the east coast of Ireland.
But for Horgan, the initial attraction to the project was too tempting to turn down. “I just found the premise so inherently funny, and I found the five sisters everything I’d wanted to write about — like five different versions of myself.”
“Bad Sisters” is a dark comedy thriller about five sisters, Eva Garvey (Horgan), Grace Williams (Ann-Marie Duff), Bibi Garvey (Sarah Greene), Ursula Flynn (Eva Birthistle) and Becka Garvey (Eve Hewson), who are all bound by the premature deaths of their parents and their commitment to protect one another, even if it means resorting to murder.
“When you come from a big family, you know what that dynamic is like,” she said. “Just that kind of mad joy you get when you’re together. You would do anything for each other, knowing that if it came to it you would kill for your family.”
Horgan says jumping in Dublin Bay’s freezing water as part of a Christmas tradition triggered the idea behind the sisters’ meeting place, where they would make their insidious plans to kill John Paul Williams (Claes Bang), Grace’s controlling and abusive husband.
“There’s this tradition of swimming on Christmas morning,” Horgan began. “You go out on Christmas Eve. You get really tanked up. Christmas Day morning, you go and jump in this freezing cold water to sort of shock the hangover out of you. I mean, for lots of other reasons, but that’s a part of it.”
“I didn’t really understand why people would do that for pleasure. But then, once I got in, I noticed that when especially women got in the water, as freezing cold as it was, they just tread the water and chat. Like, they would just have these conversations, and I thought, ‘That’s where [the Garvey sisters] can plot the murders.’”
While Horgan wasn’t able to shut down the location for filming, she says she knew she made the right decision when she watched the scene play out in post-production.
“It’s really tricky to film there. You couldn’t just close it down, and fair enough. You just film there with everyone swimming,” she said. “We had this really enormous footprint filming team on dry land. There’s a filming team in the water; stuntmen, frogmen, lifeboats. I just felt really embarrassed at the size of us. The water is absolutely Baltic. I kept just asking myself, ‘Why the hell did I write these scenes for?’”
But once the footage started coming back, Horgan knew she made the right call.
“As soon as I was in the edit watching it, I was like, ‘Oh, thank God’ because I think it looks amazing.”
Horgan says the “raw beauty” of Ireland was a natural fit for this story, which is based on a Flemish series called “Clan” set in Belgium.
“We could’ve set it anywhere, but there was something about that large family that felt so Irish to me,” said Horgan. “I felt really excited at the idea of showing an island that I felt I hadn’t seen on TV before. The ruggedness of it, and how powerful it is, it’s at its most beautiful. It’s not gaudy, it’s real. Like the sisters.”
“Bad Sisters” is currently streaming on Apple TV+.