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Exclusive: Trying stars Rafe Spall and Esther Smith talk Nikki and Jason's chemistry and challenges filming season 4

The co-stars and real-life couple play Nikki and Jason in the Apple TV+ series

Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
May 22, 2024
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Their undeniable chemistry quickly won the hearts of viewers when Trying premiered back in 2020. And as Apple TV+'s heartwarming comedy returns for its fourth season, co-stars and real-life couple Rafe Spall and Esther Smith reveal why Jason and Nikki are the perfect match. 

"I think they just complement each other," says Rafe, who joins his leading lady for a special HELLO! Spotlight Digital Cover. "They obviously fancy each other, that helps, but they have a laugh and they're able to make light of situations. They both make up for each other's inadequacies – what one person lacks the other person has and so they go really well with each other," he says of the on-screen husband and wife, who are parents to two adopted children, Princess and Tyler. 

WATCH: Rafe Spall and Esther Smith star in season four

With the new episodes picking up six years after the events of season three, there's been some big changes. Most notably, the introduction of newcomers Scarlett Rayner and Cooper Turner, who play older versions of Princess and Tyler. 

"We're six years on and they're fully in the swing of being parents," says Esther. "Now they're parents to one teenager and one almost teenager, the challenges that they face as a couple come from the fact that their roles within the house have changed. It's not just the two of them."

Sitting down with HELLO! ahead of season four, Rafe and Esther opened up about Nikki and Jason's relationship, as well as what they've learned from their characters and the challenges they faced while filming the new episodes. 

Rafe Spall and Esther Smith in Trying
Rafe Spall and Esther Smith sat down with HELLO! for an exclusive interview

There's been a time jump in season four. What was it like welcoming Scarlett Rayner and Cooper Turner to the cast? 

Esther: They're amazing. It felt like they just slotted in and like they'd always been there. They were so professional. We had chemistry reads with both of them to make sure that that dynamic was right and worked well. It was very clear when they walked in that they were Princess and Tyler.

Rafe: They're such lovely people to have around as well. They just added a great amount to the show and we were very lucky to have them.

Nikki and Jason with grown-up Princess in Trying
Nikki and Jason with grown-up Princess in Trying

What can you tell me about Nikki and Jason's relationship in series 4? 

Esther: I guess the romantic side of it has gone a bit and having to navigate that and deal with that. I think Nikki is quite a romantic and she even says in one episode, 'I just need you to see me', because perhaps the role of being a parent, that title has taken over from the role of being a partner or wife, or, I was going to say, lover! 

I think what gets them through is their sense of humour with each other. They have fun together but it's definitely changed their dynamic in the house because there's essentially four grown-ups living there now.

Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in Trying© Apple TV+
Esther and Rafe play Nikki and Jason in Trying

You guys have great chemistry. What do you think makes Nikki and Jason so perfect one for one another?

Rafe: They really like each other and I think that's quite aspirational. They're a couple that when you watch them, you go, 'Ah that'd be nice' and that's really lovely.

But also, they're quite real. It's not like they always get on, they do have fallouts and disagreements but they're quite good at dealing with them, which I think is quite hopeful for an audience to watch. 

Rafe Spall as Jason in Trying
The couple face new challenges in series four

Is there anything that you've learned from your characters over the years? 

Esther: Nikki means well and she just wants to do the right thing and in the right way and that always seems to fall back on her but she just keeps persevering. I think there's an element of that, like if you fall down, you just keep going, and that's probably reinforced something in me.

Also, on a practical level, she's a lot more organised than me and that's something I would like to have in my life. I don't think I'm there yet!

Rafe: In the same regard, Jason's not an anxious person. He's not a worrier and I really am a worrier, I am anxious. I'd like to have learned not to be a worrier from Jason but that's not the case because I still am.

Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in Trying© Apple TV+
Series 4 takes place six years after season 3

Were there any unique challenges you faced during filming? 

Rafe: The hardest thing for me is trying not to laugh in scenes when people are trying to make you laugh. I find that really difficult. My only technique is that I put my hand in my pocket and pinch my leg to give myself physical pain, which means that at the end of the series of Trying, I've always got a bruised leg because I've been pinching myself so much. 

Esther: I faced a particularly weird challenge this season where the first shot of the series was in the sea. It was freezing cold and I had to snorkel and I've never actually snorkled before. Luckily, Nikki hasn't snorkled either, so that wasn't acting, that was really me struggling, swallowing lots of seawater and flapping around in the ocean. 

Esther Smith and Rafe Spall in Trying© Apple TV+
Series 5 has yet to be confirmed

Is season five in the works? Have you heard anything?

Rafe: We don't know yet. We'd love to but only because we love making the show so much. We will see, stay tuned. 

Esther: Fingers crossed.

Trying is available to watch on Apple TV+. 

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