‘Truth Seekers’ – Nick Frost, Malcolm McDowell, and Susan Wokoma Interview

Amazon Prime’s set to launch the horror-comedy series Truth Seekers on Friday, October 30, 2020. The series comes from Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, James Serafinowicz, and Nat Saunders and follows broadband installation worker Gus (Frost) as he explores creepy haunts while moonlighting as a ghost hunter. Gus convinces his new partner, Elton (Samson Kayo), to join him on the hunt for things that go bump in the night, with Simon Pegg playing their boss and Malcolm McDowell tackling the role of Gus’ father, Richard.

Nick Frost, Malcolm McDowell, and co-star Susan Wokoma (“Helen”) teamed up for a virtual roundtable during the 2020 New York Comic Con to discuss the supernatural series. Season one consists of eight episodes, with all episodes dropping at once for your Halloween weekend binge-watching pleasure.

Is the series set up so there’s a different ghost every week or is there one basic ghost storyline we carry through for the whole season?

Nick Frost: “I think there are a few monsters-of-the-week in there but they also kind of lead us to where we’re going at the end. So, there is a reason for every monster. But yes, there is…I always loved The X-Files and I always loved the monster of the week, you know? I always thought that was my favorite. I got a little bit bored of Mulder’s sister going missing, so I’m aware that although it’s fun to have the kind of backstory and how we got here, it’s also nice to have a little possessed doll or wheelchairs flying around.”

How hard is it as a writer and as actors to not find yourself making fun of horror while doing a horror-comedy? There is a balance to it.

Nick Frost: “As a writer, I just wrote a comedy. I don’t know. I think the trick in writing it, and also for me performing it, is this is actually happening right now. Do you know what I mean? It’s not something to be laughed at or sneered at, but it happens to be funny because human beings are inherently f**king weird and and funny and frightening and horny. I think once you make characters real and believable, then you can kind of believe that the ‘homedy’ is believable, too.

I think I just coined a new phrase by accident!”

Susan Wokoma: “In terms of how I approached comedy is that you’re always sort of looking for the truth in it and then that’s kind of what makes it funny, because people are funny and weird and horny – as Nick said. I’ve only done one horror-comedy before and that’s how I approached it is, ‘It’s happening.’ And within that that’s funny. Like, you could see a ghost and that would be genuinely funny but also make you throw up. And that’s funny, but that’s also a natural reaction to seeing a ghost, I think.

As long as you play it truthfully, I think you can do anything.”

Truth Seekers Season 1 Poster

Was there any ghost hunting training involved in preparing for Truth Seekers?

Susan Wokoma: “Well, I feel like I’ve sort of been in ghost training all my life. I actually used to go looking for ghosts with my brother around a place called Elephant & Castle which sounds quite ghostly but it’s not. It’s quite hip in London. So, yeah, we were big into that so I feel like I’ve just been gearing up for the show ever since I was a kid.”

Nick Frost: “Like Susan, I have been really my whole life in and around the spirit world. I lost my virginity in a witch’s house and I saw a cup move on the table while it was happening. It’s never left me, you know. My mom was one of seven sisters from a place called Pembrokeshire which is full of legend. They would always tell me stories about the dead and ghosts, and so I’ve always kind of believed in it. But, yeah, I can feel it around me now if I stop and think.”

Malcolm McDowell: “I’m not a great believer in ghosts – sorry. I’ve never really been into that. I wish I could see a ghost; I would love it. I would love to have a chat or to see something.”

How did you choose locations for the series?

Nick Frost: “Well, there were certain things that we needed. We needed a hospital, so we found a really old, abandoned hospital which is really frightening. We live in England where we’ve got a lot of old, dilapidated things. It’s just easy to find places that look really scary.

We found an incredible old house that this old woman lived in. It was essentially a Tudor house on the inside and then someone had built another house over it. […] It was creepy as all hell. There was also an old abandoned factory which was great.

I think the creepiest thing was an old abandoned school for deaf children which had shut in like the 1960s and ‘70s. There was a huge basement with loads of tunnels, which is great. You kind of get to a point when you’re sitting on your phone and all the crew have moved to another location and you realize you’re just in a cellar on your own. It’s kind of a little bit creepy.”

Are there any aspects of previous characters you’ve played incorporated into these characters?

Nick Frost: “I try and put a little bit of myself into every character I play. So, I suppose in that regard there is a connection between Gus and Ed (Shaun of the Dead) and Danny (Hot Fuzz) and everyone else I’ve played. But you know I think the thing about acting, for me personally, is I want to be different in everything I do. And that’s not just a different accent or voice, it’s a different person.

I think I’ve done a pretty good job at that, too. I don’t feel like I’ve been the same in anything.”

Susan Wokoma: (Laughing) “Oh, I’ve got no range. They’re all the same.”

Nick Frost: (Laughing) “That’s not true. I’ve seen your three happy faces.”

Susan Wokoma: “I’ve got three? I guess I do get cast as loners and weirdos, and I embrace that. Privately, I do wonder why. I think that there is something about other characters I’ve played in horror-comedy that is a loner, that is an outsider, that is socially awkward, but there are thousands of ways to do it. I do think there is something about when you’re not kind of embraced by society and how likely you’re going to be to start looking for other answers and other worlds, I think. I think that’s what sort of runs through.”

Malcolm McDowell: “I don’t think there was anything [similar]. You know, you come to it – a new part, a new thing – and you just try and take it from scratch, whatever it is. I had a lot of fun working with these two, of course. Most of my scenes were with them. It was lovely, really. Can’t wait for the next one – if there is one.”

What was your source of inspiration for Truth Seekers?

Nick Frost: “I think just being a fan of the paranormal and wanting to write something about a man who had lost something and was looking for it. I guess that and wanting to write truthful comedy with a horror element and play with really good talented funny actors. There was a ‘no dicks’ policy, so it’s nice that we got six fantastic people.”

Can you talk about working with Simon Pegg on this?

Nick Frost: “Oh Jesus I’m bored of it! (Laughing) He came at the right time because we’d shot for like two months and we were all kind of tired and ready to finish. We had his stuff at the end, so it was like we had a new energy on set. We needed him at that time and it was great to have him. He’s like wearing a pair of old denims, a pair of old jeans you find in the wash baskets. You think, ‘Oh, I’ll stick it back on.’ It feels nice to feel that wet denim back on my ass.”

Susan Wokoma: “Wet?”

Nick Frost: “Well, when you wear a pair of denims for a long, long time it has that kind of sheen that makes it feel damp most of the time.”

Susan Wokoma: “What?!”

Nick Frost: “I wore a pair of jeans for three years once so that’s the vibe I get.”