Baby Reindeer’s Richard Gadd Talks Show’s Drama and Positive Impact

Richard Gadd Is Proud of Baby Reindeer Positive Impact
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The cast of Baby Reindeer never expected the Netflix series to reach the success that it’s found so far.

“I remember thinking, ‘Maybe someone might watch it [over] the weekend. Maybe I’ll get a few texts.’ But literally the second it went out, my phone was exploding,” the show’s creator and star Richard Gadd shared on the Thursday, June 6, episode of Today With Hoda & Jenna. “It felt like it was overnight, that everyone was talking about us suddenly — talking about us, talking about the show. And then, it just started becoming No. 1 in all these countries around the globe. It’s just been crazy.”

Thursday’s episode of Hoda & Jenna marked Gadd, 35, and his costar Jessica Gunning’s first U.S. morning show interview since the show’s April premiere. Inspired by Gadd’s real-life experiences, Baby Reindeer follows a comedian named Donny, played by Gadd, as he deals with a female stalker named Martha, played by Gunning, 38. Donny’s tense situation takes a toll on his relationships with friends and family and forces him to face past traumas.

“I got a great deal of healing from exploring, from writing stuff down, from putting [it] out on the stage for people to feed back to. It led to such a huge catharsis and a huge self-acceptance that I just kept doing it,” he told Hoda Kotb and guest cohost Heather McMahan of sharing his story. “When Netflix came to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to make this into a TV show?’ I thought, ‘Well, maybe that leads to a bigger catharsis on an even bigger scale.’”

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Gadd went on to note that he was “super glad” he was able to release the show, despite the possible ramifications from the real-life people who inspired the characters. “You can’t deny just how popular the show is and how much it’s touching people around the globe and the incredible, sort of, charity response that it’s had,” he stated. “I mean, stalking referral rates in the U.K. are up 47 percent, abuse referral rates are up 53 percent. The show is having a phenomenal impact and doing a hell of a lot of good in the world.”

Since the show’s release, Gadd has spoken out against fans who have tried to uncover the actual identities of the characters. He told Kotb, 59, and McMahan, 37, that the speculation “all just serves as a distraction from the actual good that the show is doing.”

Richard Gadd Is Proud of Baby Reindeer Positive Impact
Ed Miller/Netflix

Gunning, for her part, said she “really empathize[d]” with the character of Martha during the audition process. “I just kept thinking, ‘If somebody got it and played her like a villain or played her crazy, it would be a real shame,’” she shared.

Having been in the acting business several years before Baby Reindeer, Gunning added that it’s been “amazing” to be a part of a show “that’s really changing people.” She even recalled recently getting screamed at by a woman on the street who had watched the series.

“In her defense, she’s just finished watching episode 7,” Gunning explained. “She turned her TV off, opened her door, and [I was there.]”

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As the show continues to gain popularity, the woman who allegedly inspired the character of Martha, Fiona Harvey, has threatened to take legal action against Gadd and Netflix for the series. She also shared her side of the story in a tell-all interview on Piers Morgan: Uncensored in May, claiming that she never had Gadd’s phone number and that she only sent him “a handful” of emails rather than hundreds, as suggested by the show.

Gadd clarified in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last month that he wants the show to “be received as a piece of art,” not as fact. “If I wanted the real-life people to be found, I would’ve made it a documentary,” he stated. “I’ve spoken publicly about how I don’t want people to do it and if I start playing a game of whack-a-mole, then I’m almost adding to it. I don’t think I’ll ever comment on it ever again.”