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PASADENA, Calif. PBS Masterpiece’s The Child in Time (due April 1) is a harrowing story of parents who struggle after their 4 year old disappears.

“This is a study of of a moment of experiencing that cold sweat, that heart in mouth, that horrendous horror of ‘it’s happened, your child is missing,’ and how that then affects you after. How do you live with that? How do you deal with that?” said Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the father, Stephen.

“It’s was emotional filming, but at the end of the day, I don’t tend to take things home with me. I’m too busy thinking about the following day and learning lines,” Macdonald said.

She also noted how the mood on set provided a contrast to the sad details of the story.

“In my experience, the darker the subject matter, the jollier it tends to be on set, which is quite healthy, I think,” said Macdonald, who, like Cumberbatch, is a parent.

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Cumberbatch,
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appearing via satellite from England, agreed.

The job of actors “as storytellers is to become something else, immerse yourself in it and then leave it behind,” he said. “But it does help when you’re doing something that is upsetting in parts, as this is, (that) you have gallows humor, as it’s often called, and we did. We had a great shoot.”

The TCA panel earned laughs when Macdonald was asked about whether she and Cumberbatch, acclaimed for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock, discussed her appearance in the upcoming film Holmes and Watson, in which Will Ferrell plays the famous sleuth.

“I don’t know if we talked a lot about it. It was brought up. It is a bit hilarious,” Macdonald said.

“I was pretty jealous, I have to say,” Cumberbatch said.

“You were jealous of Will Ferrell playing your part,” she deadpanned. “When I first met Benedict, I did ‘fess up to being a huge Sherlock fan. I love that show so much.”

And when Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton asked Cumberbatch when he was planning to do the next edition of Sherlock, he simply said, “Goodbye,” and quickly disappeared off camera.
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