Obsession: Erotic thriller is about to become your new Netflix... obsession

Erotic thriller stars Richard Armitage and Charlie Murphy as characters who embark on a forbidden affair

Isobel Lewis
Monday 10 April 2023 04:50 BST
Obsession trailer

Got a You shaped hole in your viewing schedule? Prepare to fill it with Obsession, Netflix’s new erotic thriller series.

Following the success of the Penn Badgley thriller, as well as water-cooler moment shows like Sex/Life, Netflix’s latest series promises intrigue, drama and a whole lot of sex.

Written by playwright Morgan Lloyd-Malcolm, Obsession focuses on a forbidden affair between top surgeon William (SpooksRichard Armitage) and his adult son’s fiancée Anna (Happy Valley’s Charlie Murphy).

As their attraction grows, so does the show’s erotic tension, as William becomes obsessed with Anna and desperate to keep their passionate affair secret.

The limited series sees Game of Thrones’ Indira Varma star as Ingrid, William’s wife, while Ms Marvel’s Rish Shah plays William’s son, Anna’s fiancé Jay. Pippa Bennett-Warner, Sonera Angel, Anil Goutam and Marion Bailey round out the cast.

Obsession is based on Josephine Hart’s 1991 novel Damage, which was previously adapted into a 1992 film starring Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche. However, unlike Hart’s novel, the Netflix series focuses on Anna’s perspective.

In an interview with Stylist, writer Lloyd-Malcolm explained: “I loved the book… but it was written entirely from a man’s point of view. Anna, his lover, is portrayed as a kind of vamp who comes into the family, blows everything up and then disappears. Her primary function is to serve the purpose of what the male lead needs.

Charlie Murphy and Richard Armitage in ‘Obsession’
Charlie Murphy and Richard Armitage in ‘Obsession’ (Ana Blumenkron/Netflix)

“I said, ‘If I’m going to do this, I want to make sure I dig into Anna and why she behaves in the way she does.’ I wanted to try and understand the characters in the story – and especially Anna – in a way that wasn’t just two-dimensional.”

Like many of Netflix’s buzziest thrillers, Obsession features some pretty explicit sex scenes. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Armitage said that the show was pitched to him “with a sense of trepidation” due to its explicit nature.

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“‘It’s going to be a challenge, physically. It’s nudity parity.’ (That’s industry speak for full kit off for male and female actors),” he said.

Obsession marked the first time Armitage had worked with an intimacy co-ordinator, here Adelaide Waldrop. Intimacy co-ordinators work with actors during sex scenes in film and TV, allowing them to choreograph movement to remove any feeling of spontaneity and check in with them during filming.

Richard Armitage in ‘Obsession'
Richard Armitage in ‘Obsession' (Netflix)

“Her approach to the work completely changed my viewpoint,” Armitage wrote. “I’d heard other actors talking about the restriction they felt working with intimacy co-ordinators, that they ‘policed the work rather than released the work’. I discovered this couldn’t have been further from the truth.

“With a healthy chunk of rehearsal time, we were able to construct a map of investigation for the physical journey on which Anna and William embark. We studied sculpture, dance, poetry, anything we felt might help provide shape and inspiration for the characters’ physical vocabulary, as they ascend towards their fatal attraction.”

Obsession comes to Netflix on Friday 13 April.

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