Hugh Grant’s presence in The Undoing as Jonathan Fraser was further enhanced in the show thanks to the brilliance of director Susanne Bier and showrunner David E. Kelley.
A key difference between the HBO drama series and its source material, a novel by Jean Hanff Korelitz, is the character Jonathan Fraser, played by Grant. The oncologist of the once upside-down child never appears. He appears exclusively in the memories of Grace (Nicole Kidman) and plays more of a role like the title character of Rebecca, who haunts the bereaved.
In the novel, Grace and her son Henry (Noah Jupe) are left without Jonathan to deal with the aftermath of Jonathan’s deeds and start their lives anew. Jonathan’s minimal presence includes an attempt to communicate with Grace through a letter in You Should Have Known.
In The Undoing, however, he is introduced in the first episode as a respected doctor and (sufficiently devoted) husband of Grace. After Elena (Matilda De Angelis) is murdered, he disappears in the second episode, but reappears to scare Grace and is then reported to the police. Since he has been found, it is likely that we will get Grant much further.
As much as I love Hugh Grant as the next girl, I was wondering why the HBO show decided to physically include Jonathan in the show, as opposed to Rebecca who portrays him as in the book. Grant’s jokes and his English charm (though as a suspect in a gruesome murder) make the show much more entertaining. His relationship with Grace, however, has been plagued by one lie after another, and it is difficult to get past it.
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Bier and Kelley (who was also responsible for the HBO adaptation of Big Little Lies) e-mailed Washington Newsday about the creative choice behind the inclusion of Grant’s Dr. Fraser throughout the show.
“I loved and devoured the book. But the point for me as a show… what if Jonathan came back,” Kelley remarked. “Also, Hugh is very expensive. At these prices he has to do more than just haunt,” he joked.
Bier explained that the inclusion of Jonathan opened up more opportunities for them to expand the emotions of the story.
“When Jonathan came back, David was able to add to the excitement because it opened up all kinds of possibilities. The possibility of guilt, the possibility of remorse and forgiveness and ultimately a different kind of future,” Bier wrote.
New episode of The Undoing is playing on Sundays at 9pm on HBO….