The Undoing: 10 things you didn’t know about the Sky Atlantic thriller that everyone’s talking about

Is the plot in the book the same? Who sings the theme tune? And which actor’s mum is a well-known Coronation Street star? Discover secrets from the HBO show that you didn’t know…

By Becky Gamester-Newton Published: 1 December 2020 - 4.14pm
Nicole Kidman in The Undoing

The Undoing Box Set is available to watch on Sky Atlantic with NOW TV.

With an all-star cast and glossy treatment, The Undoing is the psychological thriller that everyone’s talking about. From fan theories to an appreciation of Grace’s wardrobe and Hugh Grant’s career, it’d be the water cooler hot topic if people were working in offices.

Find out even more about the hit HBO series with our list of surprising facts.

1. The plot isn’t exactly the same as in the book

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

Novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz 2013 Gary Gershoff/WireImage/Getty

The show is an adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s 2014 fifth novel You Should Have Known. It’s not Korelitz’s (above) first adaptation either – her fourth book Admission was the basis for the 2013 film of the same name, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

While the killer remains the same in both The Undoing and You Should Have Known, the book makes it clear who it is from early on – while the TV adaptation hints they may be innocent and keeps us guessing as to the identity of the murderer.

One major difference is that Jonathan doesn’t properly feature in the book – he is only in Grace’s memories. He’s on the run for most of the novel, and at the end he’s found abroad and extradited back to the United States. He’s also American in the book, while Hugh Grant retains his English accent in the series.

Other differences include the character of Elena, who is not only called Malaga in the book but she is older, less sexualised and ultimately has less of a role in the story. While the murder is violent and she is discovered by her son in both versions, she is stabbed in the book and in the series she suffers several blows to the head. In the book, she reveals she is pregnant. It is this revelation that tips the killer over the edge, while in the series, it seems to be the mention of his son, Henry, that motivates the murderer.

Haley Fitzgerald, the defence attorney, doesn’t exist in the book. And in the novel, Grace is writing a self-help book (also called You Should Have Known) - which is entirely left out of the series.

2. Nicole Kidman is also executive producer

David E. Kelley and Nicole Kidman 2019 Jeff Kravitz/Getty

It’s the second time Kidman has been the lead actress and producer on an HBO series – the first being Big Little Lies. She is also reunited with Big Little Lies writer David E. Kelley.

Kidman and producing partner Per Saari approached Susanne Bier to direct the show.

She told the Washington Post: “I was trying to find a female director who’d be great for this. But when I watched her series The Night Manager, for which she also directed every episode, I was just ‘wow’. And I’d seen her Danish films and was just captivated by her.”

3. Nicole Kidman didn’t originally want to sing the theme tune

Nicole Kidman in The Undoing

If you haven’t already placed the familiar voice behind the rendition of Dream A Little Dream Of Me during the opening credits – it is indeed Kidman’s. It turns out she wasn’t keen on the idea to begin with.

Speaking to HBO, she said: “About a month before we’re about to lock picture, Susanne Bier calls me and says, ‘Um I’ve had an idea – I want you to record the title sequence’.

“I was like, ‘Absolutely not’ and then she said, ‘You have to’. Then I went, ‘OK’.”

Kidman’s husband Keith Urban helped her record the cover, and her singing alongside images of a young girl with a familiar mop of red curls even prompted fan theories on who killed Elena.

4. It should have been shown in the spring

In March 2020, it was announced The Undoing would premiere on May 10 – however it was delayed until the autumn because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

HBO said in a statement at the time: “In light of current events, HBO’s six-part limited series, The Undoing, will now debut this fall”.

5. Donald Sutherland has played Nicole Kidman’s father before

Donald Sutherland in The Undoing

Sutherland, who plays Grace's father Franklin Reinhardt, also played Kidman’s father in the 2003 hit film Cold Mountain. Sutherland’s shifty portrayal made many suspect him as the real killer – but you’ll need to watch the box set on NOW TV to find out who was behind the brutal murder.

6. It’s Nicole Kidman’s fourth Grace

The Undoing

Weirdly, this is actually the fourth time Kidman has played a character called Grace – the first three being in The Others (2001), Dogville (2003) and Grace of Monaco (2014).

7. Noah Jupe’s mum was in Coronation Street

Noah Jupe in The Undoing

Jupe, who plays Grace and Jonathan’s son Henry, has had a busy time in recent years – you may recognise him from hit movies A Quiet Place (2018) and Le Mans’ 66 (2019).

Given these roles, you may be surprised to learn that he’s actually English – and even more so by the fact his mother is very recognisable in the UK. Katy Cavanagh-Jupe starred as Julie Carp in Coronation Street  between 2008 and 2015. She decided to leave the long-running soap to pursue other avenues, and she was written out when her character’s relationship with Dev Alahan broke down.

8. It’s the first English collaboration between Danes Sofie Gråbøl and Susanne Bier

Susanne Bier and Nicole Kidman 2020 Jeff Kravitz/Getty

Gråbøl – who plays chief prosecutor Catherine Stamper – and director Bier, above left, last worked together in 1999’s The One And Only, a Danish romantic comedy movie. However, The Undoing is the first time they’ve worked together in the English language.

9. Sofie Gråbøl and Donald Sutherland have collaborated before

It’s been a while, but yes these two have worked together on 1986’s Oviri. Sutherland stars as French artist Paul Gaugin, and Gråbøl plays his very young muse.

10. One of the detectives used to be a cop in real life

Detective Paul O’Rourke, who is seen investigating the crime alongside Detective Joe Mendoza (Edgar Ramírez), is played by Michael Devine – who actually used to be a detective sergeant in the NYPD. He spent 22 years working for them and was one of the many police officers who experienced the horrors of 9/11 and worked at Ground Zero.

He has also played law enforcement roles in The Wolf of Wall Street, Orange Is The New Black and The Post.

He told Authority Magazine: “Despite the two careers being ostensibly polar opposites, there were many times as a cop, I had to draw upon my actor’s skillset and later, as an actor, draw upon my skillset as a cop. In both careers, you find yourself playing multiple roles.”

The Undoing Box Set is available to watch on Sky Atlantic with the NOW TV Entertainment Pass.

 

Images: 2020 Home Box Office, Inc. All rights reserved. HBO® and all related programs are the property of Home Box Office, Inc

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