Esther Smith & Rafe Spall Interview: Trying Season 3

Trying season 3, which is currently dropping new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+, has finally turned Nikki (Esther Smith, Cuckoo) and Jason (Rafe Spall, MIB: International) into the parents they've longed to be for so long. After fighting to keep young Tyler (Mickey McAnulty) with his sister Princess (Eden Togwell), the couple now have to prove themselves competent and capable amidst financial crises and housing problems.

Of course, they're not the only ones dealing with personal and professional issues while trying to keep it all together. The cast of Trying is filled to the brim with talented actors portraying family members and friends who are being put through the wringer in as comedic-yet-heartfelt a manner as possible. Some of them include Imelda Staunton as Penny, Ophelia Lovibond as Erica, Oliver Chris as Freddy, Sian Brooke as Karen, and Darren Boyd as Scott.

Related: 10 Reasons You Should Watch Apple TV+'s Trying

Screen Rant spoke to Smith & Spall about what kids bring to the family dynamic on and off-screen, the most unexpected turns in Trying season 3, and their own most ludicrous show-and-tell stories.

In Trying season 3, your onscreen family has grown larger, and we're getting to actually see you with the kids. What is that experience like off-screen, having these younglings around every episode?

Esther Smith: Obviously, there's a different dynamic on set, because you've got these two little people that you have to look after and be role models to. But they were so lovely and brilliant that it was just a joy to have them - and they were a really nice reminder, actually.

I think because they're children, and because the idea of play and make-believe comes so easy to them, it's just a lovely reminder for us that this is what we're doing. I think we can get so bogged down in the seriousness of things, but it's fun as well, even as we're dealing with heart-wrenching topics. Mickey and Eden are just so funny and brilliant. We were really lucky, I think.

We also get to see the rest of your family and friends coming together for the cause of helping these kids. Did you enjoy getting to explore different dynamics?

Rafe Spall: I think that one of the things that keeps the show going is a rich, varied landscape of characters. You need the show to move beyond its original conceit of a couple trying to adopt to a group of people that an audience member wants to hang out with once a year. And I think Andy has done a really good job of creating a rich cast of people that are all spinning plates that can all go in different directions.

All of my favorite shows have got that. And even though Nikki and Jason are at the center of this show, it's been really fun to see all of the different characters come to the fore. If we go on and do more of this show, I look forward to seeing what else comes and what else he's up to.

At the start of the season, they decide that Nikki is going to get to focus on her job. How is she adjusting to the power dynamics there?

Esther Smith: I think this is interesting. It feels like the universe has presented her, in all areas of her life, this opportunity to really step into herself and take these roles of having more status or shifting into a position of being more of an adult. And I think she finds that hard to adapt to, but she does really end up coming into her own.

It's tricky for someone like her, because the people that she loves around her, she just wants the best for. But she's presented with this awful task of having to supervise and get rid of someone that she loves. And Jen, played by Robyn Cara, is just so brilliant. It's like doing something awful to a really lovely dog.

But in true Nikki fashion, I think she manages to find a way of doing it with such gentleness and care, and from a good place. Things don't tend to come easy to Nikki, but she always gets there in the end. Similarly with parenting, I think.

And Jason gets to deal with things on the home front a little bit more. What can you say about that home storyline, and the cost of living in London?

Rafe Spall: Absolutely. This is one of the things that makes these characters identifiable for a huge tranche of the audience. They don't have a lot of money, they're scraping by to make ends meet, and a situation comes along whereby the landlord of their apartment wants to sell it. We've got some savings, I make the very wise - or unwise - decision to invest with Scott, play by Darren Boyd. And it doesn't turn out so great.

Jason thinks, "I need to take care of this, because I'm very worried about Nikki's emotions. I'm very worried about what she's gonna say if she finds out about it." Even though he does something bad; even though he lies to Nikki, and he doesn't tell her the entire truth, I think it comes from a good place. He wants to protect her. He doesn't want to worry her, and so he tries to he takes on that. He puts that yoke on himself.

But like any lie that we tell in life, it generally doesn't end well.

Episode 2 had a very hilarious and extremely tense show-and-tell storyline, and I would love to know one of the weirdest things you have seen or presented at a show-and-tell?

Rafe Spall: Great question. [Laughs] It never made it into show-and-tell but, when I was a kid I became very attached to a carrot. I walked around with it, but thankfully my parents saved me the ignominy and embarrassment of taking it to class, because they knew that wasn't right.

This carrot went with me for three or four days, and I was bereft when it died.

Esther Smith: That's heartbreaking, Rafe!

I'm trying to imagine what the death of the carrot looks like.

Rafe Spall: Yeah, no, it's messy. And stinky. And a kid's got no business carrying one around.

Esther Smith: I wonder why you got specifically attached to that carrot? Because surely there was a bunch of them.

Rafe Spall: It had very long green hair.

Esther, Nikki has a momentary crisis when she sees the lunch that she received. how often do you think that happens in real life?

Esther Smith: I reckon it happens all the time. When I read that in the script, I was like, "Yeah, of course that would happen." I don't have kids, but I could 100% imagine that happening to me. Absolutely.

Going through this season, was there any lesson that you took away, whether it is in the parenting world or in the acting world?

Esther Smith: I feel like I have this after doing every series of this job, which is that lifelong lesson that life isn't always what you expect it to be. Actually, I think in series one, Nikki says to to a kid in her car outside of hospital, something along the lines of, "You need to let go of what you think your life's gonna be. That's where you get into trouble."

I think that follows through every series. It's never what you expect it to be, and there's so many lessons to be learning if you're open to it. I think Nikki and Jason are [open], just because all these things keep getting thrown at them. Every single week, they grow, but it's not necessarily the outcome that they were expecting.

I would love to know how your relationship with Andy Wolton as the creator has evolved after three years. As this series go on, you also have more ownership of your character. What is that dynamic like?

Rafe Spall: Yeah, it becomes reciprocal. He writes for us; we're giving him ideas too. But this is his show, and this comes from him. He's a very talented person, and this is one of the first shows that he's had picked up. To be relatively unknown, and then to get three seasons of a show on a major worldwide streamer that you have written every episode of, it's incredibly impressive.

I'm so admiring of how, no matter how serious the scene is, he manages to get a joke in there. I'm always amazed at the originality of his jokes; on his grasp of pathos. And he's around on set all the time. He's a great guy; very funny, but also with a big heart. This show is a reflection of him, his sensibility, and his character.

What are some of your favorite family moments this season, whether it is with the kids or the extended family?

Esther Smith: I really love watching the relationship between Jason and his dad Vic, played by Phil Davis. I just think that's so gorgeous and just so lovely. Because you can see there's so much love and so much care there. And then seeing that develop into - not just his, but the grandparents' and all family members' response to these two children - is so lovely to be able to see that and witness that.

But particularly Jason and Vic. The dialogue they have between each other is so funny, but also concealing this wall of love and emotion that neither of them really know how to express to each other. It's lovely and very honest and very truthful to life.

Rafe Spall: I just love all the scenes with Esther, because I think Nikki and Jason are their own family. Those are always my favorite scenes to shoot; the scenes with Esther.

After a dramatic end to season two, the eight-episode third season of Trying picks up with Nikki (BAFTA nominee Esther Smith) and Jason (SAG Award nominee Rafe Spall) waking up as new parents to two children they are still getting to know. Now they just have to keep hold of them, which proves to be trickier than they initially thought. Thrown straight into the parental deep end, Nikki and Jason’s relationships with each other and with their nearest and dearest are tested as they desperately try to navigate the ups and downs of parenting — while hanging onto their kids, and their sanity.

Check out our previous interviews with Esther Smith & Rafe Spall for Trying season 1 and season 2.

More: The 10 Best Apple TV+ Original Series From 2021, Ranked

Trying season 3 drops new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+.

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