Because the actors in “The Watchful Eye” didn’t know who the bad guy was, they often had to stop and ask, “Could it be me?”
In the new mystery series, a nanny is hired to take care of a wealthy architect’s son. She starts poking around the building – called The Greybourne – and discovers all is not as it seems.
Who’s behind some suspicious activity?
“Every time a new character came in, we were like, ‘OK…they did it’ or ‘They’re going to die,’” says Amy Acker, who plays Tory, the architect’s sister-in-law. “You kind of walked around not knowing what your fate was. And if you were mad at someone, you could just say, ‘Oh, yeah, I heard you’re gonna die.’”
Executive Producer Emily Fox says she had to be “real circumspect” during filming. “This was a big swing in terms of genre mashups – we had love stories, thrillers, family dramas. We sort of took a page out of some of our favorite dramas and thrillers and the happy byproduct of that is they could all be guilty.”
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Mariel Molino, who plays Elena, the new nanny, says “Watchful Eye’ veers from Hitchcockian thrillers. “There’s a very empowered female at the center of this story who’s got an axe to grind.”
“It’s not just a whodunit,” Fox adds. “It’s a chess game and it has a lot of different moving parts.”
Adding to the mystery: The series’ filming location. The basement of The Greybourne is an actual basement. “It’s underneath a former insane asylum,” Fox says. “It already felt haunted and terrifying.”
The Greybourne, she says, has its own personality – including “literal and figurative secret passageways. It will be fun for everybody to get to know how The Greybourne lives and breathes.”
While Acker and Warren Christie – who plays Matthew – represent the “haves,” they’re in sharp contrast to Molino’s character. “She believes if you have money, you have no problems,” Fox says. Quickly, she learns differently.
“It really wasn’t necessary for me to know what was happening or what these residents with their ulterior moments had,” Molino says. “I knew I had to go from point A to point B and then everything else was a surprise. I think it helped with the mystery. Up until the end, Elena still doesn’t know what’s in store for her.”
To throw her off balance, young Jasper (played by Henry Joseph Samiri) didn’t come off as a creepy kid in a seemingly haunted building. “He’s such a pro,” says Christie. “He shows up every day and wants to have fun and wants to explore.” His secret ruse? Charging the other actors for swearing. “He would make you pay the piper and hold you responsible,” says Molino. (The going rate: $1. “He just bought a private jet,” Fox says with a laugh.)
What “Watchful Eye” also leans into is trust. Who can you trust?
While Acker’s character trusts no one, she’s just the opposite. “I just trust everyone,” she says with a laugh.
Christie, meanwhile, says trust comes with time. “It’s tough to trust people these days. I’m an ‘over time’ guy. The people I trust most in this world, it came over time.”
For Elena, a real fear is that she’s seeing things, Fox says. “The mystery and the supernatural dovetail because it is all about whom can you trust, including yourself, your own eyes, your own mind. That’s the tug of war inside the show. Is this supernatural? Is it a mystery? It’s everything.”
"The Watchful Eye" airs on Freeform.