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Alice & Jack on Masterpiece

A long-lasting and complex romance unfolds in Alice & Jack

PBS’s Masterpiece showcase has brought viewers numerous love stories over the decades, but it’s safe to say they haven’t seen anything like Alice & Jack.

Starring Domhnall Gleeson (Run) and Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), the six-episode series created by Mad About You and Mad Men producer Victor Levin spans 15 years, exploring whether the bonds that bring us together are stronger than the forces that would tear us apart.

When Jack (Gleeson), a calm, reserved scientist, meets a young, tightly wound financier named Alice (Riseborough), the pair instantly hit it off, despite their many differences in both lifestyle and personality. They spend just one night together before returning to their separate realities, but over the course of a decade-and-a-half, Jack and Alice meet repeatedly — often by chance — and begin to question what it is about the other person that keeps them both coming back. “Think of the story as a ribbon and one end of the ribbon is the beginning and the other end is the end,” Levin said during an appearance at the recent Television Critics Association press tour, explaining Alice & Jack’s non-linear structure.

Alice & Jack on Masterpiece on PBS. Pictured: The intertwining lives of two lovers (Domhnall Gleeson and Andrea Riseborough) play out over the span of 15 years in Alice & Jack.

“Most stories start at the beginning and run through to the end,” the creator added. “But this one, we took the scissors and we cut the ribbon into some pieces, and then we rearranged them just a bit. We thought that it added something to your understanding and to the weight of the emotions as we went.”

When the script for Alice & Jack hit her desk, Riseborough jumped at the chance to be a part of the series — particularly because both she and Gleeson are not just actors, but were also able to help shape the project behind the scenes as executive producers. “Here was something about what Vic created that represented love in such a delicate, beautiful way, with all of its imperfections that I’d not seen and I so rarely see on screen. That compelled both Domhnall and I to want to be part of developing that and bringing it to life,” Riseborough explained.

For Gleeson, his dual role as both actor and producer added an extra dimension to his performance, “more than if I had just been acting,” he said. “I don’t think we were like silent partners as executive producers, I think there was a lot of being involved. That was a joyous part of the process. But then, once I was on set, it felt like I was there as an actor. I let the producer thing fall away a little bit.”

While Alice & Jack touches on serious subject matter, Levin insists the series isn’t as heavy as viewers might assume. “I wanted this to be not just a drama, but also a comedy,” he explained. “I wanted to keep the drama funny and the comedy serious . . .”

Alice & Jack on Masterpiece premieres on Sunday, March 24 on KCTS and WTVS

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