Connie Britton, Taylor Schilling, Colin O’Brien hope that ‘Dear Edward’ helps people move beyond grief


Colin O’Brien and Taylor Schilling in a still from ‘Dear Edward’
| Photo Credit: Apple TV+

In working on Apple TV+’s upcoming series,  Dear Edward, its lead actors have strived to tell a story on how to “meet life on life’s terms,” as Taylor Schilling puts it. Created by Jason Katims, the show is adapted from the novel of the same name and follows the aftermath of a plane crash. The script follows the life of Edward Adler, a 12-year-old boy who is the lone survivor of the crash, and weaves his story into the lives of other families who lost their loved ones in the tragedy.

Colin O’Brien, who plays Edward in the show, says that though the book and show share some themes and the general message remains the same, Jason Katims’ work focuses more on the hope and the connection aspect of it and “how we find new ways to live our lives through other people and connections.”

“Something that I learnt from working on this story and project is that life isn’t always what you expect, there are different things that will happen and you will have to adjust,” he adds.

Edward’s parents don’t survive the crash and he ends up in the care of his aunt, Lacey, played by Taylor Schilling. Grief-stricken with her sister’s death, Lacey is also forced to navigate the role of sudden motherhood thrust upon her. “The notion of really, bravely letting life be what it is, I love that about her. She is very bravely encountering herself,” Schilling says of her character.

“A very human, raw story that Jason is telling,” is how Schilling, who is collaborating with the showrunner for the first time, describes the show.“It’s part of the human condition, to really have no idea where life is taking us, and as much as we try to have the best laid plans, things change. The bravery of finding love, connection, and joy in the present moment and life, exactly as it is. That is what I think so much of us are navigating right now.”

Colin describes it in a similar way, as a show which reinforces the idea that “there are different things that will happen and you will have to adjust.”

“His scripts are so layered and detailed. He really paves the way for you as an actor, he’s a really down to earth person, and easy to talk to,” Colin says of his experience of working with Katims for the first time.

‘Hope that it will help people feel not alone’

While Taylor and Colin had their novel counterparts to draw inspiration from, Connie Britton’s role started with a phone call with Katims. Having worked with him before on Friday Night Lights, Britton said Katims came to her with the role of Dee Dee. Not part of the original cast from the novel, the characterisation of Dee Dee is something that Britton and Katims worked on together. “We would get on the phone and talk it through and explore who she is and who we wanted her to be,” says Britton.

“I really wanted to have a sense of levity and lightness with this character even though she is going through terrible grief. She lives this happy-go-lucky life until of course it’s not that…we wanted to make sure it felt rock-solid.”

While giving life to this character, Britton says her biggest challenge was having to layer a number of emotions. “I really wanted to try to capture that with the character because she loses so much materially and emotionally

Connie Britton in a still from ‘Dear Edward’

Connie Britton in a still from ‘Dear Edward’
| Photo Credit:
Apple TV+

While being closely connected to a plane crash may not resonate widely, the cast says that the experience of great loss and moving beyond that is what the focus of the show is on. “The thing that we can all connect to is the experience of a great loss, and that’s unavoidable. We have to go through it in our very own unique ways. Telling such stories in an honest way allows audiences to recognise themselves in that journey and know that they are not alone, that they can find great strength in their own experience of grief,” says Britton.

“My hope is that the quality of the way that this story is told will remind people that they are not alone. What I think I see in all these characters is a strength even in their huge losses,” she adds.

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