HOME     BIOGRAPHY

Bill Pullman Charts Det. Ambrose's Journey in
'The Sinner'
Part 3:  Going into the Woods

by  Mary Cochrane-McIvor

February 6,  2020


“The woods have always been a very iconic thing in this series.”
                                                                                             --- Bill Pullman


“The most dangerous and disturbing case of his career” is here. Where is Det. Ambrose?

Living in the woods outside Dorchester and possibly headed for the woods metaphorically.

My first question to Bill Pullman:
Mary Cochrane-McIvor: Is there hope for someone as walled off from others as Ambrose is, to heal and make some intimate connections with people or is he fighting a losing battle?

Bill Pullman: He's tormented. He's old. He's gotten to this age and he hasn't really been able to crack this thing. There's a lot of ingrained behaviour and at the same time in him, there's a great sense of urgency that he's got this chance and it's one of his last chances to move out away from the thing.”

Pullman says everyone was “Looking forward to doing the season in the fall” after Seasons 1 & 2 were shot in the summer. He described it this way:

BP: There was a great sense of what happens in the fall, when the grass is green and the tree leaves are beginning to to change and you get the glorious colors, but then, as you proceed, it goes into trees stripped of their leaves, then the ground darkening and browning and then you're in just a monochromatic black and white with snowfall. The woods have been always a very iconic thing in this series: when you're out in the woods, what happens in the woods, what being in the woods reminds us of. That journey to the woods is, I think, part of the journey of the first season. There's a level in which the woods and dreams share some things, things that are murky, like in a dream, kind of hovering out there in the woods.

MCI: Tell us about Matt Bomer, who plays Jamie in Season 3 of “The Sinner”.

BP: Derek [Simond] (Creator-Showrunner of “The Sinner') knew the casting of this part (Jamie Burns) was going to be critical: a person you empathize with, you could stay in his corner even when things were going very badly for him. He was behaving in ways that were jeopardizing people around him and himself.  But, you stay with him because he's processing what it is to be alive in a way that's very truthful, so you stay with him as long as you can.  The casting of Matt was, I thought, a good choice . . .because (he's) empathetic, a very handsome person.  You have a sense that he's got a lot of things going for him and yet you can also see how he would have a shadow side.

MCI: You've described Ambrose as “keeping the lid on it”. What is he keeping the lid on?

BP: [It's] always a challenge when he enters these complex cases where he needs to trust people. In gaining other people's trust, you can investigate, and sometimes betrayals happen inside of that, around that. I think those things weigh heavily on him so he's keeping the lid on his sense of frustration, rage that these things continually are not stable.

MCI: In Season 3 trailers and stills, Ambrose looks more deeply angry than ever. Is that true? Why?

BP: He's got more pressures on him than before. There's a lot of pressure on him that he's no longer really vital. At the (police) department, there's a suggestion that he should be retiring. As he investigates this particular suspect, Jamie (Matt Bomer) there's a sense of deliberate clouding or obfuscating on Jamie's part.
There's a sense of cunning and also that Jamie has chosen a path and is aware of things he knows Ambrose is aware of too, making Ambrose feel very vulnerable.

MCI: So, as Ambrose encounters “the most dangerous and disturbing case of his careeer” in Season 3 (Premiere Thursday, February 6, 9 p.m. USA network)  he is tormented, old, deeply angry, has a sense of urgency about breaking free from the trauma that still haunts and isolates him. He is keeping the lid on his sense of frustration and rage at the vagaries of the investigation process. He is investigating a “cunning” suspect.

How far into the woods will Ambrose go?

Will Ambrose become the 'Sinner' of Season 3?

© 2020 Mary Cochrane-McIvor

“The Sinner” Seasons 1 & 2 are available to stream on Netflix. Review Det. Ambrose's cases by watching Seasons 1 & 2 and read Bill Pullman's perspective in this series of articles on the cases solved and the new one ahead.
               Part 2 : Facing the Minotaur?


“THE SINNER”  Season 3 premieres on Thursday, February 6 - 9p.m. - USA network




Bill Pullman as Det. Harry Ambrose  in Season 3 of 'THE SINNER'

Investigating  the accident in the woods

Jamie Burns  (Matt Bomer)

In the woods