“Baby Reindeer” stars Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning open up about the 'complicated' stalker series

It's the top show on Netflix three weeks running — Gadd and Gunning tell EW about their surprise at its success, he explains why he hasn't named his abuser, and more.

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning are in disbelief.

"It's been crazy," Gadd, the creator and star of the limited series Baby Reindeer, says on The Awardist podcast of the past few weeks since the show's debut on Netflix. "I always believed in the show and I always thought it would be maybe a critical cult success, but I don't think I expected it to blow up in the way that it has."

Gunning is just as amazed. "I think I knew it'd be a pretty special thing to be part of when I first read it, but I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought it would be this big," she says.

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in 'Baby Reindeer'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Richard Gadd and Jessica Gunning in 'Baby Reindeer'

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Since its debut on April 11, the series — based on Gadd's own experiences of being stalked by a woman who happened upon the bar where he worked, as well as being sexually assaulted by a TV producer who had become a mentor-like figure to him — has spent the past three weeks at No. 1 on the streaming platform.

Gadd plays a fictionalized version of himself named Donny Dunn. A struggling comedian, he bartends at a pub where a depressed and broke Martha Scott, played by a magnetic Gunning, wanders into one day. His ability to make her laugh becomes anything but funny when she begins stalking him, turning up daily to the pub, following him home, sending more than 41,000 emails and hundreds of texts, and more.

Years prior, we see how Donny was groomed and sexually assaulted by a TV producer, here named Darrien O'Connor (played by Tom Goodman-Hill), who takes him under his wing.

<p>Netflix</p> Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer'


Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer'

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Gadd originally shared his story in a one-man show; he then wrote the series and also stars, reliving the traumas of his life. But he says he never considered someone else playing this version of himself.

"I was always willing to go down that road. I would never cast myself to the detriment of a project. I think there's been projects — I'm not going to name any names or something — where I think people have cast themselves in roles to the detriment of the project, and it's just felt like a vehicle for them to do an acting turn or something like this," Gadd tells EW. "But I felt that it added a layer of intrigue to the show, the fact that I had been through things and then playing them out on screen. I thought it would be an interesting discussion point, which it has proved to be, and I thought it added a layer of almost art to the show."

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A discussion point, indeed. With millions of eyes on the series, interest — understandably, inevitably — has turned to viewers' desire to know the real identity of the people at the center of his story. As he has maintained since the series debuted, Gadd says that isn't the point. (Gunning says she doesn't "know anything about the real person" and "no one's been in touch with me.") Even with some very convincing proof pointing to one specific woman, who is now doing interviews about the series, Gadd holds firm on protecting the identities of the real Martha and Darrien.

"I've gone about telling this story how I want to tell it. How I heal myself and my journey is up to me, really. I think it's a dark society that puts pressure on victims — survivors — of sexual abuse, to sort of do anything with it. Their job is to do what's right for them at the time," Gadd says. "I want Baby Reindeer to be enjoyed as a piece of work. I got a great deal of catharsis from doing shows like [the one-man show] Monkey See Monkey Do and shows like Baby Reindeer and putting both those live shows into the series that we now know as Baby Reindeer. I got a great deal of healing from that. And I am not going to ever name the real-life people behind this show, and I don't think the pressure should be on survivors to out their abusers — the pressure should be on the abusers to stop abusing."

<p>Ed Miller/Netflix</p> Jessica Gunning in 'Baby Reindeer'

Ed Miller/Netflix

Jessica Gunning in 'Baby Reindeer'

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As Donny's stalker, Gunning is captivating in her ability to be sheepish or flirty one minute and angry and obsessive the next. It's a gem of a role on paper — "It's the best thing I've ever read," Gunning admits — and, while complicated and daunting, also one to play.

"I don't think there has been a character like Martha really written before, with so many sides to her, so complicated and truthfully told, so nuanced, and not black and white, not your kind of average stalker story at all," she says. "That's what was so exciting about the project."

Given the enormous success of the series, one might assume that Netflix would be hungry for more. Audiences, it seems, would come along for the ride. But by all accounts, Gadd is done with this chapter of his life.

<p>Netflix</p> Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer'


Jessica Gunning and Richard Gadd in 'Baby Reindeer'

"I'm 99.9 percent sure that Baby Reindeer is done," he says. "It's got this full circle element to it — the way he meets Martha, the way it finishes. I think it's a limited series. It captures that moment in my life [from] the moment it kind of began up to the moment it ended. But season 2 would be some sort of fictional jump-off point of some kind. Baby Reindeer has been received with such global love and affection, and I think a lot of that stems from the authenticity of everything, and I wouldn't want to just do a second season for the sake of it and start placing these characters inside moments and stuff that I couldn't recognize in myself and in my own life. And I worry that the authenticity would leak out of the screen."

Listen to the Awardist podcast below for more from Gadd and Gunning, as they look back on the episodes they couldn't wait to get filmed and behind them, why Gadd wishes this is a show he was able to watch when he was younger, how they found moments of levity on the set, and more.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.