EXCLUSIVE: Why USA's Gripping New Crime Thriller 'Eyewitness' Will Give You Nightmares (in a Good Way!)

by Philiana Ng 10:00 AM PDT, October 14, 2016
Photo: USA Network

Eyewitness may be your new killer obsession.

Based on the Norwegian series Øyevitne, USA Network’s intense new drama kicks off in violent fashion when two 15-year-old teenage boys, Philip and Lukas (Tyler Young and James Paxton), secretly meet in the woods, only to witness a multiple homicide. When the murderer, Ryan Kane (Warren Christie), sees them, the teens escape and make a pact to keep their romantic relationship and eyewitness account secret for fear of being discovered by the killer.

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“It’s intense from the very beginning and continues that [way] from where we go,” Christie tells ET. “It was one of those experiences where I felt like a lot of things clicked, and hopefully that shows onscreen.”

There’s an uneasiness permeating throughout the 10-episode drama series, with its hauntingly stunning visuals -- much of that is credited to Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first two episodes -- and sleepy town demeanor that lends itself perfectly to the intensifying murder case unfolding at the center of it all.

According to Christie, the character of Ryan is much more than a psychopathic murderer on a killing spree, as viewers will discover as the season slowly unfolds. In a future episode, he becomes incorporated into the case, being investigated by Sheriff Helen Torrance (Julianne Nicholson), in another unexpected way.

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“We introduce my character in a fairly violent way,” Christie says of the premiere’s unsettling opening scene. “The first couple of episodes, I don’t say a lot, which was an interesting challenge to try and portray this guy so we understand who he is, without a big, long dialogue scene explaining who he is.”

Christie, who veered away from the original Norwegian series once he was cast (“I’d love to watch it now,” he says), read “a fair amount” on serial killer Ted Bundy to get a richer idea of the complex headspace someone like Ryan would be in.

“Everyone who spoke about [Ted Bundy] before he turned out to be a horrible, murderous man said he was so charming and I thought that was an interesting aspect,” the actor explains, adding that he hoped to infuse a bit of that charm into his character. “Ryan’s a little disarming at times, because he has his charming moments and I hope that’s what keeps viewers entertained, that you’ll see different sides to who this guy is and who he becomes.”

Christie concedes Eyewitness isn’t for the faint of heart, but notes if there’s one reason to watch on Sunday, it’s the blossoming (and complicated) love story between Philip and Lukas. (Plus, there’s a Golden State Warriors joke thrown in for good measure.)

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“Tyler and James, the two of them, are really beautiful in the storyline that they do and I think it’s important,” he says, praising his young co-stars. “They put so much heart into it. They did beautiful work, and that’s enough reason [for] people to tune in.”

Only ET has the exclusive first look at Sunday’s gripping premiere episode. See the intense photos below.

Photo: USA Network
Photo: USA Network
Photo: USA Network

Eyewitness premieres Sunday, Oct. 16 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA Network.