The Disappearance stars preview new WGN America thriller

From left: Joanne Kelly, Peter Coyote, Camille Sullivan and Aden Young in WGN America's original series The Disappearance. Photo Credit: Courtesy of WGN America.
From left: Joanne Kelly, Peter Coyote, Camille Sullivan and Aden Young in WGN America's original series The Disappearance. Photo Credit: Courtesy of WGN America. /

The Disappearance’s Camille Sullivan and Peter Coyote tell Hidden Remote why they had to be a part of the WGN America limited series.

The Disappearance comes to WGN America tonight, and showcases TV viewers’ worst nightmare: what if your child goes missing?

The six-part limited series features Camille Sullivan (Rookie Blue) as Helen Murphy Sullivan, who along with her husband Luke (Aden Young, Rectify) goes into a panic when their son Anthony can’t be found.

Anthony’s grandfather Henry, played by Peter Coyote (The 4400), is also pulled in, as he organized the birthday scavenger hunt during which Anthony vanished. Both Peter and Camille joined Hidden Remote to discuss the making of the show, and what attracted them to the project.

Learn more about this series in our interview below, then tune in to The Disappearance premiere at 10 p.m. tonight on WGN America.

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Hidden Remote: What about The Disappearance originally stood out to you?

Camille Sullivan: There were a number of things. Once I started reading the scripts, I just couldn’t stop. I just devoured them, so I thought if I’m this excited to find out what’s going to happen, then everybody else will be too.

Peter Coyote: I realized that the core of the story is the grandfather’s relationship with his grandson, and I would be working every day, and it was going to be below zero in Montreal…It turned out to be a great script, and I was really happy to have done it.

HR: Did you know what happened to Anthony when you started? Were you aware of the whole story arc in advance?

CS: We started with the entire script. We block shot, so we were flipping back and forth between episode six, episode one—we were all over the place.

HR: Did the block shooting make the series more challenging to film?

CS: It’s a challenge. Luckily we had great people, a great director [Peter Stebbings], and a great script. So when we got lost, we’d go Peter, what’s happening? Then he reminded us.

HR: Peter Stebbings directed every episode of The Disappearance, and series creators Normand Daneau and Genevieve Simard wrote all the scripts. What did it mean for you to have that kind of consistency?

PC: I think it contributed to the excellence of it. At this point in my career, I can’t say that acting is always fun, but I couldn’t have had a better written script. I couldn’t have had better actors to work with. I couldn’t have had a more sensitive and intuitive director.

And the fact that we had the same team all the way through was requisite for the excellence of this. You couldn’t have kept the tone and banter consistent [otherwise].

CS: It was so fantastic. I hadn’t worked that way before and I really loved it. Because Peter’s so wonderful, but also because especially with something that intense, if you’re going to jump around chronologically, you need someone who’s strong with their hands on the steering wheel to keep it going in the right direction and the same direction.

I think things can get lost with different people’s visions. They might be just as good, but they’re different and you get lost. This is a really strong, tight vision.

The Disappearance
Camille Sullivan stars in WGN America’s The Disappearance. Photo Credit: Courtesy of WGN America. /

HR: What were the highlights of The Disappearance to you? Did anything in particular stand out from your experience?

PC: I loved my grandson, the young actor [Michael Riendeau]. We had so much fun [and] he’s such a professional. I thought I want to come up to this kid’s standards.

I had just seen Aden’s work in Rectify, which I adored because it was just astounding. I didn’t recognize him at first until we were riding to work one day and I was looking at him, and I thought oh my God, you did Rectify.

I realized that I was in really good company; I had to come up to the mark. All of the actors and actresses were fantastic to work with, and we had a small cast and we were all together everyday—we really got to know one another. It made it pretty great.

CS: Not only did I enjoy working with this cast so much, but I think they’re so talented. I really felt blessed to be able to work with Peter Coyote and Aden Young and Joanne Kelly. Everybody was so strong and so wonderful; it was fantastic.

HR: Camille, you’ve played a lot of police officers in your career. What was it like to be on the other side of an investigation in this series?

CS: Hugely different, because my character felt so powerless. She tries to do her own detective wor,k as everyone does when they start to lose faith in the police, but I think the real powerless [feeling] of something happening out of the blue and [pulling] the rug right under you is the biggest difference.

HR: Peter, with all of the roles you’ve played, was there a particular hook in portraying Henry for you?

PC: I am a grandfather, so there was the first thing. All I had to do was put my imagination around the story, and I realized that I would be crazy. All I had to do was think about my own granddaughter.

It was a good grandfather role. It was not someone playing Santa Clause; he was a complicated man with a complicated history. But Peter Stebbings, the director, Joanne Kelly—everybody was just wonderful to work with.

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The Disappearance airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on WGN America. For more on this and other WGN America shows, follow the WGN category at Hidden Remote.