‘One Day’ EP Reveals She ‘Certainly’ Thought About Changing Emma’s Fate & Breaks Down Why She Didn’t (Exclusive)

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Netflix’s One Day brings to life David Nicholls’ wonderful and sweeping romance novel. Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew’s orbit around one another begins on July 15, 1988, the night of their graduation. In the years that follow, Emma and Dexter’s relationship ebbs and flows, but their paths continue to cross.

The roles of Emma and Dexter are crucial to the success of a One Day adaptation. Hollywood Life spoke exclusively with executive producer and lead writer Nicole Taylor about finding their Emma and Dexter in Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall.

“We thought it was going to be an utter nightmare, and we knew that this thing would not work unless the casting was just brilliant and perfect. We just got so lucky,” Nicole said.

Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall in ‘One Day.’ (Netflix)

For Nicole, casting Emma was the most important aspect of the adaptation to nail. “I just really saw that character, and I feel like most British women just hard relate to that character,” Nicole explained. “I’m sure some men as well, but she means everything to me. I think it’s a really brilliantly written female character, and that’s what made me want to adapt the book more than anything. So when Ambika walked into the room and just embodied so many of the things that I hoped the character would be, it was such a joy.”

As for the charming Dexter, The White Lotus alum was a natural fit. Nicole admitted that there was always an “intake of breath” when Leo and Ambika were in the same frame. “I feel like Leo just brings something quite new to the character of Dexter. He brings a sort of an innate vulnerability to him and that was really interesting,” Nicole said.

Episode 12 is a turning point for Emma and Dexter’s relationship. Dexter visits Emma in Paris after his divorce from Sylvie. While Dexter wants to pick up right where he left off with Emma following their drunken hookup a year earlier, Emma is dating someone else. After nearly an entire season of the ultimate slow burn, Dexter and Emma’s hookup is alluded to but never shown. Nicole went back and forth about whether or not to show that turning point.

“It was certainly something that I reflected on, and I did have a word with myself about how bonkers it is to not show the moment,” Nicole told Hollywood Life. “I certainly didn’t feel constrained by the format if I felt like dramatically justified showing that. But it was dramatically so much more interesting to not see that and actually see the aftermath and see the Dex at the point where he’s just besotted with her, but she’s very cautious. That’s a more interesting scene to me than kind of two people getting drunk and getting together. I definitely interrogated the decision, but I felt good about not showing it.”

For those who have read the novel, you know Dexter and Emma don’t get to spend the rest of their lives together. Just a few short years into their life as a couple, Emma is hit by a car and killed while on a simple bike ride. Nicole revealed if there was ever a discussion to change Emma’s fate in the limited series.

“Certainly,” she admitted. “It’s something I went in thinking about, and I felt like if we’re going to do this, I have to be confident. It just broke people’s hearts. I remember being on the tube and getting to that page in a book. You just want to throw the book out the window. It’s devastating. So it felt right to re-interrogate that choice. But ultimately, it felt like the right choice for the adaptation because it belongs in that story.”

She continued, “The story has a dramatic structural integrity, and it’s about the kind of cosmic nature of these relationships that make no sense. This pull towards someone who you apparently have nothing in common with. But over time, you see something new and see something in them. It’s kind of ephemeral but also enduring. There was no other ending that would land the meaning of the piece overall as well as that, but I didn’t do it lightly. I spent more time in episode 14, which is the aftermath, than any other episode. I rewrote that a billion times. I was on set the whole time. There was a lot of invention in episode 14, and that’s where I tried to help people realize it.”

Ambika Mod and Leo Woodall as Emma and Dexter. (Netflix)

The final episode picks up in the wake of Emma’s death. Dexter is devastated by the sudden loss of the woman he’s always loved, and he’s unsure of how to move forward. While surrounded by Emma’s belongings, she appears to him. “It won’t always be like this,” Emma promises Dexter as his grief looms over him like a nasty storm. Nicole explained why she decided to include this poignant moment in the series.

“I think it would actually be irresponsible and sort of reckless and quite nihilistic to just have that happen [Emma’s death] and then that’s it. You have to make some kind of meaning out of it,” she said.

Throughout the process of adapting One Day for Netflix, Nicole noted that she worked “really closely” with David. “I felt like he was there as a sounding board for me,” Nicole said about her collaboration with the author. “He was just wonderful. That was one of the highlights of the experience, to be honest, working closely with him. He was such a force for good. It was a highlight of the experience. It could have been really intimidating to adapt a book that he’s already adapted, but no, he was so generous and supportive. I would say he was integral to the process.” One Day is now streaming on Netflix. 

Sourse: hollywoodlife.com

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