crash test comedy central

Funny guys Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer have been passengers on Emmy Award-winning shows like Transparent and 30 Rock. With their Comedy Central special Crash Test, the two cut-ups are front and center, leading the way toward what could be Emmy gold for Outstanding Variety Special.

Premiering on January 22, 2016, Crash Test, directed by Lance Bangs, is a comedy special unlike anything you’ve ever seen, taking place on a bus (that’s right—just don’t make any Speed jokes). Huebel and Scheer act as hosts with all of Los Angeles as their stage as they pull up on the street to comedians like Rob Corddry, Aziz Ansari, and Natasha Leggero.

I talked with Huebel and Scheer about this grand production (but not before they argued over which one of them I liked better based on their appearances in Norbit versus School for Scoundrels) and learned about this incredible comedy experience and why they aren’t afraid of throwing down against past Outstanding Variety Special winners like The Kennedy Center Honors.

AwardsDaily TV: Crash Test had to be a huge undertaking. It’s a simple concept, but it seems like a big production – the Grease: Live of comedy with its mobility.

Rob Huebel: (Laughs.) That’s how we should market it. As “the Grease: Live of comedy.” If you think we’re not going to steal that, you’re so mistaken.

ADTV: Oh my God. Please do. I would love that. (Laughs.) But how did this all come together?

Paul Scheer: You know, Rob and I have been doing this show at the UCB theater (the Upright Citizens Brigade) for years now, since 2005. It’s just a place for us to kind of do whatever’s on our mind.

crash test comedy central
Rob Huebel, of “Crash Test” on Comedy Central

RH: It’s a stand-up show that we host.

PS: Every week, in addition to having stand-ups on the show, Rob and I will do elaborate bits with the audience. Like one night we sent people up on blind dates, we did a Seder (cause Rob and I had never had a Seder before). We’ve done all of these kind of bits and the joke that we always made was, “What if we just took this show and put it on a moving bus and went to the comedians’ houses instead of having them come to us?” Put the audience on a bus and just drive to their houses. And we said it as a joke, and then Ben Stiller and his company were like, “Well, let’s get you that bus.” Then, we were actually forced to make good on our promise.

RH: But you’re right, logistically, the actual production of it was really hard. That bus for example isn’t out here on the West Coast. It’s on the East Coast. So we had to pay that company to drive that bus all the way out here to LA just for that. That’s an expensive, weird job. Some guy had to drive that weird glass bus all the way across the country by himself.

PS: And the thing is, too, like what you said about Grease: Live, there is a true feeling of that. Putting on a special, even if it’s a stand-up special, is a big endeavor. You have to block it, shoot it, get the space, get the people there. What we did was we took all that pressure and put it on a moving bus. And we had people having to hit their marks as we were pulling up so there’s a level of danger in the entire show in the sense that everything had to be orchestrated down to the second and if we went too long, everything had to be perfectly timed out.

crash test comedy centralRH: Well, the main danger was that we didn’t tell the audience how long they were going to be on the bus. They just showed up and I think they thought, “This will be like an hour” or something like that. You know, cause the special is an hour. It took like eight hours to actually do it, and so we’re driving all over LA, and there are no bathrooms on the bus, so we would have to stop and let people go to the bathroom or get something to eat. At the beginning, you could see the audiences’ faces. They were like, “Ha-ha-ha! We’re having a great time!” Towards the end of it, they were like, “What the fuck is going on?”

PS: We had to have a fully functioning plan for the night, but because we’re on a bus and because there’s traffic and because things take longer and we were interacting with new things on the street that we could never have planned for, there’s a lot of improvisation in it. So that was part of the fun. When we went out to Mann’s Chinese Theater, we didn’t know what we were going to get. We had no dress rehearsal. We had no tech. We had that bus for one night because that was all we could afford. So we rigged it up, and were like, we’re going to shoot for eight hours, and make the best version of whatever we got. Some of the things turned out so great, like that guy Zev that we found on the bus, who did the earpiece thing. That was totally unplanned. We could have picked the guy next to Zev. We just didn’t know. And the people we interacted with on the street, we just didn’t know. We wanted to create a show that had a little bit of an improvisational element to it. So we knew what we wanted from a moment, but we were open to it going in many different directions. And that, for me, was the most fun thing to do because I don’t think anyone has done that in a special, captured that element of “anything could happen” right now. And I think shows like The Chris Gethard Show have an element of that, too. I think for us, coming from the UCB and that stage thing, I think we thrive on that and can find these moments that you could never even plan. And it makes it feel very different from a normal show.

RH: Most people that see the special say, “Oh my God. You have to come do that in my town. You have to come to Austin, you have to come to San Francisco. Please come to Seattle.” So we keep thinking, “Oh, yeah. We should do that.” Make this a regular thing. It would probably be so stressful to do, but I think it would be really fun.

ADTV: I wanted to ask you guys that. Would you ever do it again?

PS: Yeah, we’re in talks with Comedy Central, and it’s really figuring out the logistics. It’s almost doing a special as a series. How many can we do that won’t break the bank? There are a lot of elements involved in it. Rob and I have talked about maybe doing it during South by Southwest or Comic-Con where there’s a lot of people on the street, too. I think part of the fun is making the audience feel like they are really a part of the show and that they’re in it with us, and then also having the stage be a street, as a living, breathing thing. As we roll up into something, we’re changing the backdrop every single time, whether it’s stand-up, music, or whatever. Having Earl Sweatshirt and the Odd Future guys do that rap song—that was amazingly fun for us. The cool, live music performance kind of reminded me of the stuff that [Dave] Chappelle did with his musical stuff.

crash test comedy central
Photo Credit: Tina St. Claire

RH: I think the trick if we did more of them would be to really get the right people involved that can roll with something like this. Like Tom [Lennon] and Ben [Garant] from Reno 911!. When they show up as the cops when we go on the Paramount lot, it’s so funny and it’s so outrageous, but those guys are just making up that whole thing and we’re just kind of rolling with it. We would need to make sure if we were doing it in Seattle or wherever or Austin, that we’d be able to fly in all of our friends to get all the right people there.

PS: Yeah, so it’s basically like flying in a full show, the full variety show. But then the variety show isn’t even on stage. It’s on a street. And everything can put it off guard. We found so many fun moments. Originally, we were going to have Earl Sweatshirt scale down from a building with a stunt rig on. At the last minute, they couldn’t get the stunt rig to go, and he was going to land on top of the bus and crawl into the bus. We had no communication because we were on the bus. We were just going, so a lot of the stuff you’re seeing is us just killing time as we’re getting from location to location because we had this amazing team. It was like running a little army out there, around LA in this 30-block radius. We basically drove in a giant circle.

ADTV: So the comedians were just kind of waiting in the wings at specific locations? So you would just show up and then they’d come out of nowhere?

RH: Those are obviously not their houses where they are because we didn’t want to tell people where they lived, but we had blocked off a neighborhood in L.A. and then we just had all those people on tap for that night and we said, “OK, we’re gonna come by there at, like, 8 o’clock. So be in your location at 8 o’clock.” And for the next guy we’d be like, “Be there at 8:20.” It was literally scheduled like that. Cause the bus is so big that you can’t turn around and go back for anything. You have to catch the bus. It was a logistical challenge but it all worked out.

crash test comedy central

PS: We basically had like a full army of producers and directors running around trying to make it all seem seamless. At one point, we were driving through this neighborhood, and you could tell that people paid a lot of money for these houses, and then they would open up their door and see this giant bus. We had a bullhorn, screaming out into the street. And at one point, someone walked out of their front door and saw a bus full of us all wearing ski masks and yelling stuff. Those were moments that I really loved. There’s just an energy you can’t recreate but we were able to do.

ADTV: I want to ask you about the bus interior. It was very reminiscent of MTV’s TRL circa 2000. Did either one of you ever feel like Carson Daly? Did you have the urge to throw it to the Backstreet Boys or a screaming fan?

RH: It does look like that. That bus actually lives in New York City and does this thing called The Ride and they ride around Times Square and they have all these little stop-offs and everything. And there’s street performers and stuff. But because it lives in Times Square, I almost think it just sorta has that look to it. It looks like a thing from TRL, but it has all kinds of stuff like lasers. There’s a lot of stuff we didn’t use because we were like, “Well, if we do a smoke machine, then the rest of the show is going to be in this haze.”

PS: Grease:Live rehearsed for months. We literally got on that bus and took it out and were like, let’s see what it’s got. We decorated the side of it so it looked a lot different from The Ride bus, but it had the lights. It looked like if TRL jettisoned. If Carson Daly was like, “Guys, TRL’s gonna blow! Let’s get in our escape hatches!” And by the way, I know a lot about TRL because I did a dumb series on the web called Scheer-RL, which was a recreation of TRL with me as Carson Daly.

crash test comedy central
Paul Scheer, of “Crash Test” on Comedy Central

ADTV: I wanted to watch that. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet.

PS: It will always wait for you on the Internet. It will never go away.

ADTV: OK, good. Cause that’s been on my list of things to get to. (Laughs.)

PS: It’s so dumb. (Laughs.) But the bus was kind of already pre-manufactured, and we tried to make it our own. We could only do as much as we could.

ADTV: After eight hours on the bus, did it smell?

PS: (Laughs.) People were not shitting on the bus. No one shit themselves on the bus. I think the audience didn’t know what to expect. If they’re used to coming to our show, they knew it’s like a two-hour show from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Monday night. It’s the craziest schedule. I think they thought, “Oh, this will be like that.” But because the show just kept on changing, one of the last things that they saw was Earl Sweatshirt. The order [of the special] is the same. We kept on kind of goosing them whenever we felt they were getting tired. All of the sudden Tom and Ben are ramming the bus with a go-kart. Jack McBrayer is coming out in a green-screen suit. So they always felt like there was another thing coming at them. We didn’t tell them what was coming next. They didn’t know there was a musical thing. The only way they knew something musical was happening was by the smell of pot because Odd Future and Earl Sweatshirt and that whole crew smoked so much weed that actually the Paramount security people were like, “Our backlot smells like weed. You have to cut this off.”

RH: I think it’s like a rare thing, especially in Hollywood, it’s not like it is in New York where there’s so much live entertainment with all the theaters. I think this, to a lot of people on the bus, was almost like this mind-blowing live experience that they knew was never going to happen again. They’d never be able to go out and see Rob Corddry, Aubrey Plaza, Jack McBrayer, Tom and Ben, Earl Sweatshirt, Natasha Leggero. They would never get all of that in one night in any other format. I think it was sort of this really special thing. Even though it took eight hours, I think people were pretty psyched in the end.

PS: It has that Bonnaroo festival mentality. You’re into the experience. Bonnaroo, you’re there for a weekend. And for us, the big thing also was, Rob and I are not traditional stand-ups. We’re not going to get on stage solo and do an hour-long show. I think we both love the idea of doing kind of what we do do, which is kind of like sketch prov. We have these ideas. We have these written bits, but we’re open to improvising. We’re open to being with each other. There’s no outlet for it, so that was a part of our deal, too. How could we capture what we do without necessarily compromising to make it something a little bit different? Us on a stage, I think, would be compared too much to a stand-up special. We wanted to create what’s so fun about our live show, which is that anything can happen. We’ve had guests come in and people take the stage that you would never expect. I think the only way we could do it was with the bus.

ADTV: Speaking of anything could happen, was security or safety something you were ever nervous about?

PS: That bus goes, like, four miles an hour.

crash test comedy centralRH: The only thing that was unsafe I think was me and Paul standing up the whole time. They are weird about standing up when the bus is moving. Right away, we were like, “Well, no. We’re going to be standing up the whole time and we’re going to be running around on the bus.” We’re not going to abide by your internal bus safety rules. But as for the actual safety, we had a police escort and everything. Those motorcycle cops that take you everywhere when you’re filming. So that was all good. The only thing that was also hard was parallel parking. We had to pull over and find a parking spot for a 60-foot glass bus. It’s like trying to park the Love Boat. There’s no parking space for that. So that was kind of tricky.

PS: The other thing we were always getting into trouble with was we were essentially bullies. We had a loud speaker. We had this giant colorful bus, and we’re going down Hollywood Boulevard and harassing people on the street. We were just like the bully in high school, who’d go, “Hey! What are you doing? Kiss her!” There was a guy going to a valet stand, and we were like, “Tip him more! Tip him more!” And he finally went back in his wallet and got more money. We were like a bully that was doing good but we were definitely making fun of people. Luckily we avoided any fights. But we did get one guy to flip us off because we made fun of him while he was getting his salsa.

ADTV: I wondered if you were worried about Zev when he was out and you were feeding him lines.

RH: That was a little touch and go because we didn’t know him and know how good he was going to be doing exactly what we said. There was a part that we kept in there where he goes up to this girl by herself and he starts flirting with her and he asks her if he can touch her hair and then she very quickly turns around and gets her huge boyfriend. She’s like, “Babe!” And we’re like, “Zev, get out of there! Get out of there!” He was probably in the most danger, I would say, of all the performers. I think he was putting himself out there the most.

PS: His energy that he gives off on the street was so pleasant that he could say these weird, horrible things to people or unnerving things to people and people were giving him a second chance. I was nervous a couple of times. He started riffing on his own a couple times. I was like, No, no, no. Reign it back in. We cut out a lot of stuff, too. Rob and I could have a whole special of Zev, we were laughing so hard. We kept on trimming him down because he was saying the most insane stuff. And I realized an important life lesson: You can really say anything to anybody and they’re pretty much OK with it. He said so much stuff and it seemed to only endear him to people. Except that girl’s boyfriend.

crash test comedy centralADTV: If Crash Test is nominated and wins the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special, it’ll sit next to other such winners like The Kennedy Center Honors and Barbra Streisand: The Concert. How would you guys feel to be the winner to bring Nuts and Butts into the Emmy lexicon?

PS: I think that’s the only way we could do it effectively is if we had a mini-bus that we were able to drive up on stage and accept the award in a mini-bus.

RH: I think this represents the new style of comedy specials. With all due respect to The Kennedy Center Honors and all of those very prestigious productions, ours is very run-and-gun and down and dirty. But I would say, pound for pound, just as funny as those comedy specials that my parents used to love. But I think it just represents something brand-new in the comedy world.

PS: I’m going to go one step further and say to any other potential nominee that’s even in this category, “So what. You did a show. Were you moving on a bus during it? No. Case closed. We’re the best. The only special that moved the audience, the performers, and ourselves.”

RH: Well then I would take it one step further and say if any of these other shows are interested in fighting us, we’re down. We live here in Los Angeles. We’re easy to find. And if you think your show is better than our show, come and fight us.

PS: Take that, Kennedy Center Honors. Take off your top hat and your bow tie, and come meet us out on the streets of LA. We got a bus. What do you have? A podium? No thank you. Take that Mark Twain award and shove it up your ass.

Crash Test, a Paramount Digital Entertainment production, is available for purchase on Vimeo for $3.99.

keith broke his leg

You may know Keith Powell as “Toofer” from NBC’s 30 Rock, but the cool kids on the Internet know him from Keith Broke His Leg, the web series that follows his semi-autobiographical adventures as he hobbles around Los Angeles. All 10 episodes are available on

The series was nominated for seven 2016 Indie Series Awards and won for Best Lead Actor (Powell) and Best Web Series. With the Primetime Emmys opening eligibility for Web Series in 2016, could “Toofer” be on his way to an EGOT next to Tracy Jordan?

I talked with Powell about the inspiration behind his web series, some of the standout episodes (watch “Baller” as soon as you’re done reading this), and why he thinks it’s the perfect time for web series to join Emmy contention.

AwardsDaily TV: So when I first starting watching your web series, I had trouble viewing it on my laptop before I finally broke down and watched it on my smartphone without any issue. Then, it dawned on me that I’m old and this is probably how most people are viewing everything nowadays. Is that one of the reasons why you decided to venture into a web series, since it’s short and easily digestible?

Keith Powell: Yeah, I wanted to do a series that showed that I could act, write, and direct a body of work. I also felt like my voice wasn’t really being heard. I’m an actor for hire, so a lot of the time the stories I want to tell have to be foregone for the stories that other people want to tell, which is totally fine. That’s my bread and butter, but I really wanted something that was 100% me out in the world so I could share it with people. I have an entire philosophy on writing and directing that’s always a fun anecdote around the dinner table, when I have dinner parties, but I wanted to share something that said this is who I am, this is my voice, and this is the way I believe in comedy and the way you should tell a story. Then, I took the short form genre and really wanted to exploit that. I really wanted to tell a complete full story in 10 minutes. So often web series just give you part of a story or give you half a story. I wanted to have each episode have a beginning, middle, and end, and be about something. And each episode, I’m very proud of, is about something.

ADTV: Is the show all scripted? Do you have a lot of improv?

KP: It is 100 percent scripted. Actually I wanted to make sure that it was still authentically my voice so I only gave myself one rewrite of each script. So it’s scripted and what came out of me in the first draft is pretty close to what you see in the final draft. Especially for the “Chocolate” episode, which I really wanted to do like a fever dream (Keith eats weed chocolate and sees a version of himself with a regular leg).

ADTV: My favorite episode is “Baller,” when you’re advertising commercials for Black cruises (“cruises with two z’s”).

KP: Oh! That’s the one that I’m putting up on the For Your Consideration site. Thank you for that! There’s a lot of debate on which episode we should post. It’s between “Soup” and “Baller.” “Soup” is the one where I get my finger caught in the blender.

ADTV: I love that one, too! I also like “Class,” the one where you’re teaching the kids.

KP: It’s so weird because when I wrote that, there’s a line in it where I go “I guess I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about George Takei” and that’s really what happened in the writing process. Cause I started going, “How do I know so much about George Takei?”

ADTV: Each episode has its own tone. Sometimes it’s really funny. Sometimes it’s really moving. Sometimes it just makes you think as in “Id,” where a woman tells you the story of her dream about having a baby made of ice.

KP: I’m so proud of that one, too. I wrote that one at the last minute, and it wasn’t originally on the shooting schedule. But we found ourselves with an extra two hours. And that dream really is a dream I’ve had after the death of one of my parents. I had written that dream down, and I’m not exaggerating, 12 years prior. I wanted some way to get it out into the world because I’d been sitting on it for so long and I wanted to share it because I think there are a lot of layers in that dream for me. And so that’s how it manifested itself in the show. And that’s why the episode is called “Id.”

ADTV: That actually leads me to my next question. Does the inspiration for your episodes come from real life? After all, your real-life wife Jill Knox plays your wife in the series.

KP: Yeah. 100 percent. I always like to tell people that the show is just the events of my life put in a blender and you press pulse. So everything that happens in the series happens to me in real life. Just not in the order and out of the mouths of the people that are saying them in the way it is presented. Most of it is autobiographical. It’s a series of stories I want to tell. The karaoke episode (“Mellow”) when the police officers come – that actually happened. I wanted to tell a story about the Black Lives Matter movement, but I didn’t want it to be didactic or preachy. I wanted it to be light and fun, but talk about a serious thing about harassment. What happens in the episode is much lighter than what happened in real life. It was the way I wanted to get the story out. The way I begin each episode is I want to reveal a truth and work backwards. Each episode ends with mostly my character, and sometimes Jill, revealing a truth that you didn’t know before the episode. And it’s a slow revelation of truth.

ADTV: Speaking of truths, will we ever know how Keith has broken his leg?

KP: Never. (Laughs.) In my mind, he breaks his leg in a new way every episode.

Keith Broke His Leg

ADTV: It could be in a variety of ways because he’s kind of klutzy!

KP: I’ve never broken a bone (knock on wood), but the show came about because I wanted to have a visual metaphor for the growth and change my life was making. In a way, the character of Keith juggles between being aloof and angry with everybody. He doesn’t want to engage with the world. Through the breaking of the leg, it makes him more active and more involved and sympathetic. Like a healing leg, he’s healing into something that’s more of the world – to be a better person. That’s kind of the idea behind the whole show. I’ve written a draft where the cast comes off and where we find out how he broke his leg, but I don’t know if I’ll ever reveal that to the world. It depends on what kind of shape the show takes going forward.

ADTV: The show reminds me a little of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Were you influenced by Curb?

KP: I never thought about it like that. I did in the promotional material because it says it in the promotional material.

ADTV: It does?

KP: Yes, it says: “Like Louie with a Los Angeles sensibility, Curb Your Enthusiasm with heart, and Inside Amy Schumer with a black dude.”

ADTV: Really? (Laughs.) The last one?

KP: Yes. [Laughs] Somebody said that to me about Curb before, but I never thought about it that way. But to be honest with you the inspiration behind the show was Mad Men. Matt Weiner is a friend of mine, and I actually got Matt on the phone and talked to him about Mad Men for a while, to help write one of these episodes. Just because, picking that man’s brain is one of the most satisfying classes you can take. He’s so smart about writing and so smart about storytelling and how it gets told. Each Mad Men episode is about something very specific. It has its own theme, and that is what I wanted for Keith Broke His Leg. At the end of “Baller,” the character goes into a refrigerator and pours a beer into a martini glass. That was the oddest way I could visually show what I wanted the episode to be about. And that is directly from an inspiration on how Mad Men does its shows. Mad Men ends its episodes with a visual about what the whole episode was about, and that’s what I wanted to do with the martini glass.

ADTV: 2016 will be the first year of Emmy eligibility for web shows. Why do you think it took so long for Emmy to take notice?

KP: Daytime Emmys have recognized web series, but Primetime Emmys haven’t. We’re in a new medium. There are 400-plus shows on television, and technology is changing. We’re in a revolution with the television industry. We’re now seeing that some shows are only 15 minutes long. There’s only really one network that does that at the moment, and it’s Adult Swim. So with places like Vimeo and Amazon and YouTube Red, there’s a lot of avenues now for short form shows to be seen, and I think it’s just the right time for the Television Academy to start recognizing that. They’re trying to get ahead of the curve. Web series have been around for at least ten years, but we haven’t had the technology to make them look as good as television until just recently.

ADTV: I wonder if the Oscars will eventually recognize more web-based films.

KP: I would love to sit down in a room with Netflix and say to them, “Please invest in short films and 15-minute web series because there is a market for them.” Netflix is completely blowing the idea of day-and-date release out of the water. They released Beasts of No Nation in a movie theater for a week in order to qualify for the Oscars and then really just put it on their platform. So the Oscars at some point have to contend that the way Netflix is doing it is just because of a parliamentary procedure they’re asking for and that they need to get rid of that parliamentary procedure. Sometimes it’s not such a bad thing to do a day-and-date release on a streaming platform and in the movie theaters. But we’re still figuring all that out. It’s all still a mystery for us.

ADTV: Unlike many artists and filmmakers who crowdfund their projects, you didn’t with this web series. Why did you decide not to?

KP: Because the story was very personal for me. Because it just didn’t feel right to ask people to believe in a project that didn’t exist but know this is all telling very personal stories about my life. It just felt exploitative to do that. Season 2 might be another story, who knows! I’d like to self-fund Season 2. Season 1, I didn’t feel like going to people and saying, “Hey! Give me money for this thing you’ve never heard of! That I’m going to have star my wife! That’s set in my house!” It just felt so masturbatory. Honestly, it would distract from the stories. I feel like people connect more to the show because they stumble on it and realize that each episode is its own story. If it were more of a crowdfunded publicity thing, I don’t think people would be able to connect to the episodes in the same way.

ADTV: The final episode in season one has one of the most moving scenes, something more emotional than a lot of things seen on network TV. When can we expect new episodes? Will a new season explore this cliffhanger?

KP: That is such a wonderful question, and I’m now trying to figure out how to answer without revealing too much. There will be a season two. I don’t know when. The show is now starting to hit its stride in terms of people who are seeing it, and I want to give that its due and its time. I have outlined season two and what I love about the show is how there is a loose plot that overarches the whole show, that slowly reveals itself to you. I want to keep that going. So it’s not so much as picking up with the cliffhanger, but it’s about the cliffhanger being something that slowly reveals what the show is ultimately about. And so we’re going in that direction. We’re getting there. And season two will start revealing more about the mystery of the show and what the overarching theme of the show is. But it won’t handle it in the most direct way. Season one starts to lay the groundwork of that last moment throughout the season.

ADTV: Do you know when those new episodes will start being available?

KP: No. Because we haven’t shot them yet. I normally like to shoot them all. It’s my never-ending fear of rejection. I held on to all of these episodes for six months before I released them because I don’t want to be rejected. (Laughs). I want to make sure I have them in my hand, they’re mine, they’re perfect.

ADTV: (Laughs.) Even after you’ve won awards for it? You still have that fear?

KP: Yes. Because I didn’t expect to win those awards. I always feel like eventually it’s going to be revealed as a sham. (Laughs.) The first season was actually 12 episodes. We shot two extra episodes that I’m holding on to. Those episodes are really good. I haven’t released them because they didn’t fit into the arc of the season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t show themselves at some point. I almost guarantee that they will. I’m still kind of figuring out how I want to show this to the world. I’m hoping before the end of the year we’ll have new episodes. But I’ve made my peace with the fact that KBHL is a show that people will discover slowly and so I want to give that time.

Watch season one of Keith Broke His Leg at and follow Keith on Twitter at @KeithPowell.

ADTV discusses the challenges of acting and directing with House of Cards‘ Robin Wright

House of Cards season four ended with TV’s powerful and ruthless couple Francis and Claire Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, respectively) creating fear, terror and war. As a growing power influence both in front of and behind the camera this season, Wright recently made headlines, and deservedly so, for fighting to receive an equal pay check to that of co-star Kevin Spacey. This season, Wright directed four episodes of House of Cards and is also an executive producer.

I met with the actress, director, and executive producer recently. On TV, actress Robin Wright plays the icy and fiercely powerful Claire Underwood, but, off camera, she is anything but that as she cracks a joke about how cold London was while she was there filming….

AwardsDaily TV: Congratulations on another fantastic and phenomenal season of House of Cards. Did you ever watch the original UK version of the show?

Robin Wright: I did not. I deliberately avoided that. I never did that in the past. Even in the past, if someone was making a remake or adaptation, I’ve never wanted to watch the original so as not to be influenced. Actually, David Fincher said, “There’s not a necessity for you to watch it because the character that we’re developing, Claire Underwood is going to be exponentially larger.” Was that true? Did you watch the UK version?

ADTV: I did. I have to say, Claire Underwood is in a league of her own.

RW: Yes. Good, that was the intention.

ADTV: When you first got the script, did you base her on anyone?

RW: I didn’t base her on a female politician. I didn’t base her on a human being. When David Fincher said, “I don’t know what to tell you. Here’s a template idea for you to start with.” This was long before the episodes were written. The one description that stood out was that he said, “Imagine she’s a marble bust, that you would see in a museum and that she’s an iconic figure and there’s a stoicism, and you can crack that marble. That’s what we’re gonna do over the course of the show. We’re going to slowly make cracks in her marble.” I read it, and said, “OK, I get it. That’s enough.” That’s all I needed really.

Physically that’s the way I work over just replicating or emulating someone in particular. I take the fabric of things. I went for an animal. I thought about the bust, and I thought, “What acts like that stoic bust with a regality?” It was the American eagle. I studied the American eagle on YouTube, and they way they hover over their prey. When they go for the kill, it’s with the utmost force and conviction. It was so smooth and stealth like. That’s what I used for her as an idea. Then once you put on her outfit or a dress and Louboutins, you’re kind of there.

It was a lot of physical stuff to help me find her to tell you the truth.

ADTV: Well, on the subject of physical was the dream sequence – the fight. Did you get injured at all?

RW: I used a piece of that in my episode that I directed. We were shooting very late that night because we had to get that scene. That was a mother bear of a day… a 16-hour day. Kevin and I were so giddy because you’re living on ether at that point, you’ve been working for so many hours. We were padded up, and had stunt people there, but we both went for it. We were both very bruised I have to say. We were giggling about it, saying we didn’t have to go for it 150 percent but we did. We threw ourselves on the desk. We had fun shooting it.

ADTV: What about directing yourself? Claire is such a complex character. What’s it like directing yourself in this?

RW: Kevin and I do this in our sleep at this stage. There’s not a lot of forethought needed with separation. So, it’s really not that complicated. It’s like anything, like any skill that you have. It’s like someone who rides a unicycle every day. They’re not even thinking about it anymore. They get on the unicycle and do it. It wasn’t an interruption to be directing myself while directing the show.

I would have much preferred to not be in front of the camera because I love being behind the camera now. I can’t wait for my scenes to be over, and I can get back behind the camera. That’s the truth. [laughs]

ADTV: How did Beau Willimon approach you this season to direct more episodes?

RW: I think Kevin was considering directing an episode or two. I remember being in the room when they were talking about it. I said, “Hey, I wanna direct one.” Beau said, “Let’s investigate that.” I said, “Yes, I’m scared shitless, but I’ve been in this business over 30 years.” I’d been on the show long enough, I knew the protocol, and I know the story and the style. I know the crew, they know me, and they’ve got my back. We all just joined forces and said, “Let’s make it happen, and they did.”

ADTV: It is tough to direct the smaller scenes with you and say one other, or are the larger scenes, like the church scenes harder?

RW: That is definitely tougher, when Kevin and I are in the same scene, and it’s a complicated scene. Like the scene where he discovers that she puts the earrings in his safe deposit box. That was a tough scene to direct. We didn’t have time to rehearse it. It was also re-written at the very last minute. We were getting changes moments before. We were all collaborating on the changes because once you get out there and you rehearse that long scene, that was a 7-page scene which we shot at the end of the day. That was just a disservice to all of us because we were all so tired. That was really tough. You learn from those mistakes as a director. I would never do that again to Kevin, myself, and the crew. I’ll never do it. I will make sure that we allot a whole day for a scene like that, especially given the nature of pace. We don’t even know if we’re going to have time to rehearse it. It’s going to evolve into something else. We need to give it time and to allow for that time as the production board. But, you live and learn. Always living and learning.

ADTV: Another fantastic moment this season was having Ellen Burstyn in the show. Those scenes. What was that like working with her and directing her?

RW: She was fantastic. I was so honored doing that. She was one of the first actresses I remember watching in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. Ellen was one of the first I remember witnessing. There was a specialness.

ADTV: You are a leader. You’ve got a role as a leading lady in a top show. You’re also a female director in a field that’s dominated by men. What is that like for you?

RW: We can use the cliche of female empowerment. There’s something with that union of Team Underwood, with Francis and Claire, and the point of their unification is to say she is the best of both sexes. There’s almost an androgyny there. She is strong like male and female, and that in concert with Francis in the power seat, is almost like, she is the side car. They’re both propelling each other. They’re both a part of the same vehicle. She’s both.

ADTV: They’re quite a couple. They’re very addictive.

RW:[laughs] That’s a good word for it.

ADTV: Aside from Fincher, who else has influenced your work?

RW: Anthony Minghella was the one that touched a lot of people clearly. His process resonated. His delicacy with actors with when and how much do you speak to. You don’t want to drown out your actors. You need to let them breathe. There’s a way to let them breathe while simultaneously feeding them active verbs to play.

He was very good this way. He would tell a story instead of saying, “Give me more energy on this take, or be more sadder on this take.” You can’t play energy. What gives you energy? Give me an example that would make me feel “I have more energy.” Or give me an example or a memory or something that creates a factor in my body. Don’t just say, be sadder or be happier. He was a storyteller and a beautiful director that way. He created an environment and a world for you to embody the character within.

ADTV : It’s so apparent that you have the directing bug. Would you like to do more of it and direct a film one day?

RW: Definitely, I am pursuing directing. Yes.

ADTV: When did you first get the bug?

RW: I had it in my mind years ago. I think I was too scared, I wasn’t ready, but I knew I always wanted to do it. I just wanted to feel qualified to do so. Again, you don’t get qualified until you keep doing it which I realize now. Practice makes perfect.

ADTV: Do you have a favorite episode looking back on the season?

RW: I do like the one with mom and Tom. I like that one. I also like episode four – the assassination attempt. That was full and two very different ones at either end of the spectrum. I was very blessed with the writing of those two.

ADTV: Would you ever consider writing?

RW: I wish I could write. I can’t write. I can re-write a scene. We do it with the writers, restructuring and juxtaposing words and arc. I do that all the time. If somebody said sit down at a typewriter and write a story, I’d panic.

Robin Wright and all seasons of House of Cards are now streaming on Netflix.


Taraji P. Henson

ADTV discusses the challenges of being Empire‘s Cookie Lyon with Taraji P. Henson, the woman behind the sass

Earlier this year, Taraji P. Henson took home the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama for her portrayal of Cookie Lyon on Fox’s Empire. Cookie is outspoken, fierce, and bold. Henson’s character is a heroine to the 10 million viewers who tune in each week to follow the adventures and saga of the Lyon family. Later this year, Henson will publish her memoir, “Around the Way Girl,” and she will stretch her acting chops with Hidden Figures, an upcoming drama detailing the story of Katherine Johnson. Johnson was the African-American mathematician who helped NASA make huge strides in the Space Race.

I caught up with the actress in Hollywood on an unusually chilly L.A. day to talk Cookie, what she hungers for as an actress, and the challenges in creating such an iconic character.

AwardsDaily TV: How is it filming Empire in Chicago?

Taraji P. Henson: It’s good. I really love the city. They have great food. It’s beautiful in the summer with the lake. I can’t complain. It’s a change of pace. The people are different. They seem a bit more authentic there than here. No one’s chasing stars there.

ADTV: L.A. is a world of it’s own. OK, that last episode of Empire. Oh my God! I’m still picking up my jaw from the shooting and the wedding. The whole season is crazy. I don’t even know where to begin?

TPH: [laughs] Good luck because I don’t either.

ADTV: Congratulations on a great season. What’s it like delivering those blunt lines?

TPH: It’s a lot of fun. She’s my Sasha Fierce. She’s my big sister. That’s what Cookie represents for me, that bold person who speaks up for me when the bully comes.

ADTV: Is that what makes her resonate with the audience?

TPH: I think she represents that for everyone, the voice… that inner fight that everyone has. Sometimes people are afraid to unleash because they need to be politically correct, and we know Cookie is far from anything politically correct.

ADTV: Is that hard for you delivering those lines that aren’t all PC? I don’t care. I’m a Brit so nothing offends me. We say anything.

TPH: I know! I’ve seen TV there. I love it because Cookie gets to say it. She says the things that people are thinking but are too afraid to say. I think that’s why she’s registered and resonates across the board. It doesn’t matter what color, what sex, who they’re sleeping with, they just love Cookie. [laughs]

ADTV: Well, it’s been such a long time since we’ve had such a great character like Cookie on screen. In the 80’s we had [Dynasty‘s] Alexis, then you come along, and she’s bad ass.

TPH: I love it. It was a scary character to take on because I didn’t know how she’d be received. America is tricky. People are tricky. They could turn on you real quick. It was very important as to how I played her. I couldn’t play her as a loud mouth sass because she wouldn’t resonate to most people. I had to figure out a way to make people empathize with her struggle.

I grew up in the hood, so I know what it’s like when you can’t make ends meet working at McDonald’s or a job that pays minimum wage, and all you have is crack to sell to make sure your family can eat, or hustle, or whatever it is you gotta do. When you come from the hood, you don’t have those options. She sold drugs. Was it the best thing to do? No. But what she did was prevent her three sons from becoming statistics. She did what mothers do, she made the ultimate sacrifice.

ADTV: And some of the best scenes are when Cookie goes all out protecting those boys. Where does that emotion come from?

TPH: From a mother’s love. You sacrifice your life getting that child here healthy. I became pregnant in my junior year in college, I was very young. That’s when you party and drink, and do whatever. I didn’t do it. I chose not to. Those are sacrifices I made to bring a healthy child into this world. Once I had him, I had further sacrifices to make, I couldn’t go clubbing because of the type of mother I wanted to be. As a mother you’re always sacrificing because it is your job to make sure these kids are good and they become productive citizens by any means necessary. You want them to survive.

ADTV: How has Cookie changed your life?

TPH: I can’t go anywhere. That’s how she’s changed my damn life. I am now Cookie. Everywhere I go, people ask, “Are you Cookie?” No, I am Taraji. [laughs]. I understand the love they have for her.
“Fans, please understand when you call me Cookie, it reminds me of work.” It’s work.

ADTV: But she’s going down in history as an icon.

TPH: I hope so. She’s the kind of work I’ve always wanted to do. I pray that’s the case.

ADTV: Do you have any scenes that have stood out for you this season?

TPH: The scenes where I slapped all the boys. I think I got Terence one good time, and now they all brace themselves when they see me.

ADTV: You connected?

TPH: Each and every time. [laughs] I have crew members saying, “Can Cookie slap some sense into my children?” They make me Facetime and threaten their kids.

ADTV: What about this relationship between Cookie and Lucious. Every episode they are flipping from love and hate. Last night, I was watching it and they’re on the couch. There was a moment when I thought, “She hasn’t learned from last season.”

TPH: Well, that’s a love you can’t describe. When you’ve been through so much with a person that love never really goes away. You may not love them romantically anymore, but there’s a deep underlying love that you can’t even put into words. When you find that, it doesn’t come often. Cookie and Lucious will probably always date other people, but they will never find that kind of love again.

ADTV: What can we expect in season three?

TPH: [laughs] I have no idea. They tell me nothing. I wish I knew.

ADTV: Ok, I have to talk about her wardrobe, because it’s outrageous. Do you get a say in what Cookie wears?

TPH: I don’t really want a say. I let Paolo [Nieddu] do his job. He really loves me because he calls me his Barbie. I’m a producer as well, so I just know that you hire people to hire their job. I’m an actress. I’m not a wardrobe person. I don’t study the upcoming fashions. That’s why I hire a stylist in my personal life. That’s why you have wardrobe in film and TV. I let that person do their job.

It’s my job as an actor to materialize that. I’ve done my research, they’ve done their research and we marry the two. I have to make it work. I might not like it, but it’s Cookie who’s wearing it. He did the character research. My main concern is fit. Does it fit? If it doesn’t we move on. I think Paolo is quite a genius. The outfits he puts together are ones I would have passed a thousand times in the store, but everything he puts me in, I want. But once Cookie wears it, it’s over.

Taraji P. HensonADTV: You have an exciting 2016 ahead. Your memoir, “Around The Way Girl,” is coming out which I can’t wait to read. What can you tell us about the title? 

TPH: I think people recognize me for being That Girl Around The Way for being tangible to them. I’ve reached this great success in my career, and people say, “You’ve never changed, you still feel familiar. I feel like I know you and you’re my BFF.” I think it’s because I would not allow Hollywood to dictate who I was. Yes, I’m this edgy girl and I speak with this accent, but I am a trained actress. I get paid to play characters. That’s not who I am. It was a struggle to get through the industry like that. When I walked in the room, I was just Taraji from around the way, but they just saw an edgy girl who couldn’t give them characters. I’ve had a lot to prove, but anyway, here we are and I get to tell my story.

I think it will resonate not just with women, or girls, but boys and men because the story is very real. I’m very proud of it.

ADTV: On the subject of Hollywood and its challenges, what obstacles have you faced?

TPH: There are roles that I didn’t get that I should have had, but when you look back in retrospect they weren’t my blessing. They belonged to someone else. I don’t really see them  as obstacles. I just work. Hopefully those obstacles lessen, and they become obsolete.

I really can’t say that the industry is tough because I’ve been successful in this business. I can’t say the business has been bad to me. I carpe diem. I was nominated for an Academy Award. Great. I continue to do independent films, and, because I’m a theatre actor too, I hunger for roles that I can sink my teeth in to. I thirst for roles that will scare me. I don’t go for easy.

ADTV: On that note, you have Hidden Figures coming out early in 2017.

TPH: That was the hardest thing for me in life. I am not mathematically wired. She is the polar opposite of everything you’ve ever seen me do. Everything. She is a genius. She’s a mathematician. She sees numbers in the sky. She doesn’t speak unless she has something to say. She’s a very proper woman, and she was hard to play. I’m notch ten in my personal life.

I leave this character who speaks her mind, and then you take me to Katherine [Johnson] where I have two lines in three pages. When I got home, I felt like I’d just worked out because I had to sit on all of that energy. There are scenes with racial tension, and I couldn’t say anything? That was a workout.

ADTV: Did you know about Katherine Johnson?

TPH: No, I didn’t. When I took it on, that’s when I started to hear about her. It was interesting. The movie was perfect timing. I remember reading the script and asking if she was still alive, if so, I wanted to meet her. I remember how regal she was, and how smart she was without saying anything. She was very sharp. She’s 97 1/2. What I found interesting was that, I’m a people watcher, so I was scanning her room, and I saw that she had two Scrabble games under her sofa. I thought to myself, she’s still challenging her brain to think. I wouldn’t even want to play Scrabble with her. She’d make me look stupid.

Watch full episodes of Taraji P. Henson on Empire on

Reid Scott

Reid Scott talks about Veep‘s continued success under a new showrunner and Dan Egan’s future in D.C.

Veep‘s Dan Egan is the most underrated character on HBO’s Emmy Award-winning political comedy. As embodied by actor Reid Scott, Egan’s trajectory on the series has progressed (regressed?) from cocky Deputy Director of Communications in the Vice President’s office to a lobbyist to, most recently, a senior campaign official on President Selina Meyer’s (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) re-election bid. Recently, the series seems to derive a perverse amount of pleasure from putting Scott’s Egan through one embarrassment after another.

I had the chance to talk with Reid Scott about his character on the acclaimed comedy. I wanted to find out if there was any end plan for his ambitious campaign consultant and, ultimately, the show itself. Talking with Scott was very breezy and casual. We talked about his Veep role, the process of creating a great final product, and even his recent voice-over successes.

AwardsDaily TV: Do you think you’ll be able to safely enter a CVS or a Rite-Aid ever again?

Reid Scott: [laughs] I may have to switch to Walgreens.

ADTV: I think everyone will be keeping an eye out for Dan Egan.

RS: Yeah, I’m getting offered jobs at the pharmacy.

ADTV: One of the big questions I wanted to ask you first is when David Mandel came on as the show runner, did anything in the environment on the show change at all?
Reid Scott

RS: That’s a great question! Yes and no. It was really an interesting process changing captains, you know, midstream like this. I’ll only speak for myself…I knew David just by reputation, and he had this wonderful rapport and history with Julia [Louis-Dreyfus]. So they obviously were going to come together and have a lot of similar thoughts and similar ideas for the trajectory for the show because they were going to work really well together. So we met David and he was instantly great and so excited, but you know you always wonder like, “Wow can we match the same tone? Can we keep it up? Will it be the same feel?” Especially after season four where we won the Emmy, and it’s kind of like, “We’re really cooking now!” It’s sort of strange to mix it up. And there was certainly a period of some growing pains. You have a whole new staff of writers trying to get used to our voices. We have a really unique process—we do a lot of rehearsal, there’s a lot of improv. So I think we were all sort of wondering how this was going to go. I don’t think those questions got really answered until we probably had, you know, an episode or two in the can. It started to become really obvious that David and his guys really rose to the challenge and they told us how hard it was to really try to pick up where Armando Iannucci and his guys left off. But I think they did an incredible job having seen the first few episodes already. I think from an audience standpoint, you wouldn’t even notice a difference.

ADTV: I was about to say that it was a very, very smooth transition. It’s like nothing ever happened.

RS: It’s incredible, really incredible. And I can’t tell you how difficult of a task that was. We watched these writers not sleeping for days on end trying to get a tone just right, and they rose to the challenge. They really crushed it. I think it’s one of our best.

ADTV: With this being an election year, do you feel like you guys are kind of exposed or in the spotlight since Veep is one of the (or the only) political comedies on television right now?

RS: Yeah. We certainly get asked that a lot. “Are you borrowing from the current election cycle? All the gaffes and the wonderful material must be coming out of that.” You know, Veep has never been the show that does the “ripped from the headlines” kind of thing. Even though it seems like it [laughs]. We used to laugh amongst ourselves that our writers or our cast would come up with some insane scenario and we’d shoot it, and then the next week it would actually happen. And when they see this episode they’re going to think that we took it from the actual headline when we’re actually ahead of this curve. With this election cycle, we weren’t trying to emulate anything, but it’s hard to not be influenced here and there. We’ll let the audience drawn the conclusion. If they see something that they think is completely influenced by the election, then so be it. If anything, we were trying to do our own thing.

ADTV: So we’re not going to see a Trump political figure or some really angry Bernie Bros knocking down the doors to the White House?

RS: [laughs] There’s a little bit there. Every character in the show is some sort of a political caricature. There’s little bits in there, but I don’t think there’s like it’s stridently based on somebody.

ADTV: One of my favorite lines was from the last episode that just aired (episode 3 titled “The Eagle”). Dan realizes Amy’s [Anna Chlumsky] sister does not work for CBS, and Amy walks away from you. You have that great line, “I’m not having a good year.” You just say it to yourself. Can you tell me if Dan’s year is going to improve? Is he a little more humbled this season or is still just kind of a dick?

RS: Man, you get right to it!

ADTV: I recently read an interview where you referred to Dan as a dick, so that’s why I say that [laughs].

RS: Totally! That is nothing new. I mean, look, Dan is nobody if he’s not a dick, so that’s still going to continue. He’s got an interesting ride—I don’t want to give too much away. Most of the fun of Veep is watching everyone try to succeed and ultimately kind of failing. There’s a bit of that on the ride, but Dan…how I say this…Dan’s trajectory throughout the season is really interesting. He gets involved in some stuff that I’ll say is perfect for him and Dan opens up some doors that I don’t think even he thought were available to him.

ADTV: Very mysterious—I like that. With the Amy material and the “hook up gone wrong,” How was it to explore that with Anna Chlumsky?

RS: It was fun. That Dan/Amy is something that has been simmering in the background while it’s never been explicitly said what their exact history is. We obviously worked some stuff out on our own, kind of behind-the-scenes to help us with the characters and whatnot. It’s always been this sort of fun little tension, and I gotta be honest: it’s fun to toy with the audience. “When are they going to hook up?!” “When’s it going to happen?” I can honestly tell you that I don’t know if it ever will. It might. It’s been a fun little element, because those kinds of relationships are fun to explore. Someone that you love, you hate, and between the two of them they realize they work fairly well together. But there’s this competition and this sort of like one-upsmanship. So that can also fuel the libido. It was fun—it was cute.

ADTV: I do feel like if something were to happen and they were to become an item and break up…because of their competitive nature…a break-up between Dan and Amy effectively burn down all of Washington D.C.

RS: Oh yeah! It would just burn the city to the ground.

Reid Scott

ADTV:  Veep is in its fifth season. A lot of comedies get to that point, and stuff becomes stale. Veep, on the other hand, stuff keeps getting better and better. Is there already a clear idea where the creative team would want to finish things?

RS: You know, that’s a great question. I don’t know. It’s something that’s been bandied about a lot. Back to when Armando was running the show, we always wondered, “what’s the endgame here?”—especially when Selina became president in season four. There was even talk of whether we change the title. What’s happening here?

I don’t think anyone knows, and I think that’s in the style of the show. Even when we show up to shoot (because there’s a decent amount of improv involved), there’s a bit of magic the show has capture in not knowing where we’re going to go. It’s sort of like flying by the seat of your pants—and that’s not to say that the writers don’t have a plan. They have extensive plans. It’s like, here’s the general GPS of the show. How we get there is completely up to us as we discover it, as we shoot it, as we play with the stuff. So, I don’t know. As long as there’s political fodder to explore, the show’s going to have some life. God knows it can go on forever. There’s endless possibilities and endless combinations of how to keep these characters together and what they can do. I’m curious about that myself.

ADTV: Do you know where you’d like Dan to end up in D.C. ? Do you have an idea of where you’d want him to go?

RS: I’ve said before that I won’t be satisfied until Dan catches a sniper bullet in the head walking down 8th Street. I think that’s such a natural, fitting, and perfect ending of Dan. Whoever he has to piss off to make that happen, I think would be great.

ADTV: You mention a lot of improv. You see all the scenes at the end of the episodes where actors are going through different takes of the show and they’re throwing different stuff out there. Is that something you really like the atmosphere of the shooting? Do you fire stuff over and over again?

RS: Yeah, it’s one of the things, I think, drew all of us to the show in the first place. We were told from the get-go. My first meeting with Armando and Frank Rich was meeting with them in character. And they specifically asked for that. Came in and we ran a couple scenes and then Armando said, “Let’s just talk.” And we were talking for about half an hour to forty-five minutes just in character, and that’s where most of the character came from. Armando knew who the guy was but I sort of filled in all the back story and all the blanks. That sort of atmosphere has continued in that everyone is encourage to contribute—whether it’s a joke, whether it’s a plot point, whether it’s some back story. And for each other’s characters, it’s a really giving and very generous environment. You know, a lot of times actors are very precious about their character or can be selfish and this is almost the opposite. Everyone is throwing in ideas. It’s all about how do we make this scene funny, how do we make this situation funny. It’s exhausting at times. We make a lot of work for ourselves in doing that, but then you see the end result and it’s like, man it’s fun to know that we were all playing jazz together and this is what we come up with.

ADTV: You can tell from just watching the actors that if you throw something at them, every single actor on Veep with throw back at you

RS: Absolutely. You know, it’s classic improv games. It’s “Yes, and…” and heightening the stakes and just passing the ball is what it is. It’s almost like an athletic environment where we all have one goal to win the game. However we get there, let’s just have fun and do it, and everyone be unselfish and make these moments stick. It’s a lot of fun. We have a huge rehearsal process, and I know a bunch of our cast has already talked about that. And that rehearsal process is what makes the show. We find so much in the rehearsal process and we improv so much. Usually what happens is we have the script and we rehearse the script. And then we improv the script and the improvisations make it into the next draft, and then we’re improving on top of that. SO it’s this wonderful combination of structure and free style.

ADTV: I wanted to congratulate you. You were nominated for an Emmy for your voiceover work on Turbo F.A.S.T. Were you always interested in voiceover work, or is that something you just fell into?

RS: A little bit of both. One of my good buddies, Jamie Kailer (Scott’s co-star on TBS’ My Boys), he did a bunch of voices on Robot Chicken, and I was a fan of the show. I pestering him, “How does it work?” He actually got me my first voiceover agent, and it’s really a tough nut to crack. I think I went three or four years before I got anything. It’s a very tight niche of incredibly talented performers, and because it’s voices, most of these men and women can do dozens of voices. You don’t even need a big pool of actors that it’s hard to break in. I got lucky, because a really old friend of mine, Chris Prynoski, of Titmouse (Animation Studios) fame. He and director Andrew Romano gave me a shot. I was completely green. I learned on the fly, and I just love it. It’s one of the most freeing forms of acting you could ever do. You don’t have to worry about the camera and the lights and the hair—you just have to play with the character. I was so surprised and proud to be nominated like that, because other actors in the field are incredible performers.

ADTV: I wanted to close with a random question. Is there any show that you’d like to guest star on? For instance, a small character arc that is completely different than what you’re been doing the last few years on Veep?

RS: The Americans on FX. I am just a huge fan of spy intrigue novels and whatnot. I think the acting between Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell is the best on television. It’s just incredible. I love how dark and moody—the nice, almost languid, pace is so interesting to me. I would jump at that in a heartbeat.

ADTV: I’ve always thought that you’d be a great addition to something like Mad Men. I think you’d look really good walking around in a tailored suit, chain-smoking, in the 60’s and 70’s.

RS: My god, that’s my dream! [laughs]

Veep airs on HBO Sunday nights at 10:30pm ET. Turbo F.A.S.T. is available streaming on Netflix.

Reid Scott

How To Dance in Ohio

Alexandra Shiva’s (StagedoorBombay Eunuch) latest documentary How To Dance In Ohio takes us inside the world of teenagers with autism. In a beautiful coming of age documentary, Shiva follows three teenagers with autism as they prepare for their formal Spring Dance. With over 200 hours of footage, I talked to Shiva about the challenges of narrowing that down, and the personal experience that inspired her to make How to Dance In Ohio.

AwardsDaily TV: Congratulations on the wonderful documentary, How to Dance In Ohio! It is so inspiring to watch.

Alexandra Shiva: Thank you so much. It was even more inspiring to make.

AD: What I want to know is how did the idea actually come about for it?

alexheadshotAS: Well, my husband and I have a very close friend who have a daughter who is on the spectrum. She’s turning 18 next week and I’ve watched her grow up and she’s more affected and doesn’t speak, but I had a lot of questions about what happens and what coming of age look like for her. Is she going to have friends and what is she going to and what happens and are her parents always going to have to take care of her? A lot of the conversations with her parents were just very fraught with those types of questions. I remember one time her mom said to me, “Do you have to be able to say ‘I love you’ to be a person? What makes you a person?” That was really the beginning and why I was so interested in the subject. I sat and I was trying to figure out how to tell the story in a way that would be relatable. I met a woman who brought me to Columbus and we met Dr. Amigo and he was talking about how he was bringing all his clients there and he was going to spend three months in group therapy preparing them for the prom and I could not think of a more relatable way to tell the story because we all know what it’s like to not know what to say and be afraid and feel insecure and to have something be new. To have these subjects be having in a more heightened way, hopefully allows the viewer into their lives.

AD: What was the biggest challenge in putting the documentary together and making it?

AS: I think the biggest challenge was, more than anything else, trying to make sure that we had the experience of being with them and being there in a way that never let a viewer feel like they were looking at them. I would say the greatest challenges were in the editing because I wanted to structure it so you as a viewer feel connected and they still have agency and the laughs that happen are still generated by them not about them. All of those kinds of things and that was a big dance. It was a really big process of fine tuning how you bring someone in, but not make someone seem like so other that you can’t relate to them anymore. I think that’s a danger often with people who have situations that you can’t necessarily relate to.

AD: That was the thing. Even the first time I watched it, it was like you’ve done such a great job on this because you’re actually laughing with them and not at them. How did you even get them to open up? That must have been hard to get that from them, or was it easy?

AS:  I would say that it was by far the most collaborative film I’ve ever worked on because of what they’re struggling with, there had to be a lot of prep. They had to know what we were doing, why we were doing it, if we were going to be in their group therapy session, if there were group therapy sessions about us before we ever got there. When we arrived, there was this town hall meeting where all the parents, guardians, and clients came and asked whatever questions they wanted to ask. They didn’t even ask them directly, they wrote them on note cards and then Dr. Amigo would read them off so it was sort of anonymous. The whole first week we were there, we sat in a room and the four or five clients and I would come in and I would tell them what I did and my camerawoman would show them the camera and explain what she did and where she was going to be in the room. My point is, there was a lot of prep to make them feel as comfortable as possible and the rule was that they could always ask to turn the camera off if they were uncomfortable. They felt like they had that agency and within, I would say, two weeks, most of the clients really didn’t even register us. They did, but they didn’t. I think we were just another person in the room. They didn’t look at the camera like, “oh, a hundred thousand or a million or two million people are going to be looking at me.” They didn’t process it that way so that was interesting, but I also think that the parents and the individuals on the spectrum were really moved to be able to speak about their experience. They wanted to be seen and heard and the idea that we were interested in not only hearing it, but showing other people what it was like to be them was a big force. It propelled their comfort. There was one person who was not comfortable and it was a very interesting experience with her. Marideth did not want to be on camera. Her parents wanted her to and thought that she’d be great and it would be great for her to tell her story and she’s obviously so compelling. The way that she made it work for her was before we would do an interview with her, there was a 45 minute coffee where she got ask me anything and everything. It was like, “where have you been and what language did they speak and tell me about this and do you know that bulldogs have to have C-sections.” Anything she wanted to talk about and then she’d say, “Now I’m fine and now its okay and I can do an interview. We did that for each interview. As we went home to her house, she asked her mother to have us send a list of where we were going to be in her house at every minute. It was like from two to 2:15, we walk in then 2:15-2:30 we’ll put our stuff down then 2:30 to 2:45 we mic you. That was what she needed and that was what worked.

AD: How did you even decide that you were going to narrow in on the three girls, Marideth, Jessica, and Caroline, as the subjects?

AS: We came home with much more footage, we had like 250 hours of footage, and it was a lot and the narrowing down process was not easy. We did have boys that we had focused on and they’re in the getting ready and those moments where people tell you themselves what their difficulties are and what their interests are. I think that the idea really early on in the edit room that prom has this feeling like it’s about the girls and the boys are supporting players. There haven’t been any documentaries about girls on the spectrum. It is five boys to one girl affected by autism so there’s sort of a double invisibility. There was something about Marideth, Caroline, and Jessica and they stood out in a way that it felt like you could really tell this story and bring someone into this experience through different various stages of coming of age. Actually, the person who really inspired the movie is a girl so that didn’t hurt in how that focus happened. The sister of the girl who inspired it saw the movie and then said to her mom, “what’s the name of the girl who reminds me of Lucy?” and it was Marideth who reminded her of her sister. I think there was something about that.

AD: How hard or easy was it for you to actually get the whole documentary off the ground, from having the idea to financing it to getting it made?

AS: It was a long road [laughs]. I actually developed a short first in where I was filming in New York and it didn’t feel right. It felt too much like it was a survey movie where the main character had autism, instead of the main subject being the people that you’re focusing on and not the issue. That was almost four years ago that I started that and then three years ago was when the dance happened. So, three and a half years ago was when I first went to Columbus and then getting investors and doing all that was quite a process. The edit was a year. Documentaries take time and I knew when I started this one that I felt like if it took ten years, it would be okay because I was so invested in what I was doing and, for me, that really has to be the case because it might take that long. Sometimes it’s easier and sometimes it’s harder, but ultimately, it’s not like a twenty day shoot and then you just get it out there the next year. For me, it had to be something that I felt really passionately about and could maintain my interest for years to come.

AD: What was it like seeing How to Dance In Ohio for the first time? What was it like for the girls when they saw it?

AS: Well, we premiered at Sundance and the deal that we had always made with everyone was that they were going to be the first people to see it; we were never going to show it in public before they saw it. We got into Sundance and then about three weeks before Sundance, I went to Columbus and showed everyone the movie and it was an amazing experience. The movie is based on them, but you’re never sure if someone is going to get literal and say, “That didn’t happen like that.” But, everyone got the essence of what it was and they told me that they felt seen and heard and that was the ultimate goal. It was one of the most important pieces because if that wasn’t there then what have I done? It was thrilling. The other thing that was amazing was that they laughed throughout. We had these little focus screenings for editors and people to give notes and all those places that we had known there was laughter, they were laughing. They were laughing at themselves and their friends and calling out. One thing that was amazing was that there was this guy who didn’t want to be in the movie and in the dance, he was very prominent because he’s very tall, he’s just this blurred head walking around. I was always worried that he would say he wasn’t blurred enough and that he could still tell it was him, but he came up to me at the end of a screening and he said, “you know the places where I’m blurred? Can you undo it because I want to be a part of this?” It was amazing. I still had time to do that because we were finishing the exhibition copy so I had a day or so to pull off his mask. It was just thrilling to hear that.

AD: How rewarding that must be.

AS: It was amazing. They were so courageous and so without any expectations. I don’t know about you, but if someone came to me and said, “I think I’d like to spend three months filming you and then you’re going to have no control over where it goes,” takes a lot of courage to do that. I felt so relieved that it matched up with what their hopes were.

AD: Do you still keep in touch with all the girls?

AS: Oh, absolutely I do! I was just texting with Caroline’s mom last week. The film is on HBOGo and HBONow, but it also has an educational distributor so there are festivals that it goes to. Sometimes I can’t go, but now they go! There was one in Menlo Park and I emailed a bunch of the subjects and said that they want to fly someone there and asked who wants to go. Caroline and her mom and Dr. Amigo went and represented the film! It was so awesome. And, its such a self-esteem boost for her. Her mom was saying that she felt so good about being able to be up there and talk. I keep in touch with all of them. Marideth and I are Facebook friends [laughs] so that’s how we keep in touch, but they’re incredible and doing really well.

AD:  What do you want, as a filmmaker, for people to take away from watching the documentary? 

AS: To me, there shouldn’t ever be a limit based on what people are capable of. It’s measured and not always going to be qualitative and exact. What I’m capable of is not what someone else is. The idea that these people are capable of far more than sometimes people allow. We’re not all that different, I think that was a big part of the theme. They may be having some of these feelings or respond to things differently, but we all have had that. Hopefully, the next time you see someone acting in a way that’s strange, I would hope that whatever you would take away from it is, “oh that person is just a little different than I am.” Some insight and relating is the goal. I feel like if you can relate, it’s easier to connect. Sometimes you have to really, really show that we can all relate. And for people to love them because I love them. That was all a part of my goal.

AD:  What are you working on now?

AS: I have two projects that I’m working on. One’s in pre-production, but I’m not quite ready to talk about it. I can’t talk about it yet because it’s all coming together. I am definitely working on two different projects and I’m very excited. I still feel very connected to this movie and I’m still helping it grow every day. I feel connected to what its doing and who’s liking it on Facebook and who wants to show it in what library and what school and all that stuff.

AD: Are doing any other festivals next?

AS: Thank you. I’m never sure where it is. Kino Lorber is our educational distributor so sometimes I’ll just see it pop up. It was just in Menlo Park and it was in Boston and I feel like its somewhere, I just don’t know where [laughs]. It did all the festivals already so now it’s at schools. To me, that’s really important because the responses from high school kids are more intense than anyone else. I would love for it to be shown in every high school.



How to Dance in Ohio is now showing on HBO. For More Information visit

The Night Manager

Producer Stephen Garrett discusses the hot miniseries The Night Manager and its path from novel to film

If you’re not watching the critically acclaimed miniseries The Night Manager, then AMC is where you need to be spending your Tuesday nights. Starring Tom Hiddleston (I Saw the Light) and Hugh Laurie (House), The Night Manager is based on the John Le Carré novel. It deals with an undercover agent’s (Hiddleston) attempts to bring down an arms dealer (Laurie). Directed by Susanne Bier (In a Better World), the 6-part miniseries has received widespread praise for its direction, timely adaptation of the source material, and memorable lead performance by Hiddleston.

I recently caught up with executive producer Stephen Garrett to discuss casting and the challenges of modernizing The Night Manager.

The Night Manager

ADTV:  It’s a pleasure speaking to you! A fellow Brit is always fun. I want to congratulate you on a great miniseries. I saw the billboard a few months ago on Fairfax and I was so excited. Were you always a fan of [John] Le Carré and his work?

SG: I don’t know how much you know, if anything, about my career. There’s no reason why you should know anything [laughs], but back in the UK, I founded a company called Kudos and the first series with which we had a huge hit was with a show that played in the UK called Spooks but played here as MI-5. That show was my idea and it was inspired, absolutely, by my love of Le Carré novels. That idea I had goes back to 1970 and since I was a teenager I’ve been a fan of Le Carré. When I got a call from The Ink Factory, which is the company founded by Le Carré’s son, telling me they’d read I was leaving the company I’d founded and was in the process of reinventing myself, they told me they were in the very early stages of developing The Night Manager with the BBC. They had the first draft of the first two episodes and they had Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston attached and they asked if I would like to join the project and sort of take the lead executive role on it. It was like I’d died and gone to heaven, quite frankly. Yes, is the long answer to that question, I have always been a fan of Le Carré.

ADTV: I remember Spooks. I used to love watching it. It’s crazy that that was actually inspired by him. I learn something new every day.

SG: Completely! What’s interesting is, as you know, TV and movies are full of spy stories, but at that time when we started Spooks, television on both sides of the Atlantic was full of cop shows and doc shows, essentially. That time, to go into a spy show was really quite rare in TV. Now, you can’t turn on a channel without bumping into a spy so it’s harder to make a great spy story sing. But, Le Carré is the granddaddy of them all. He invented the modern spy story and, in a way, also invented the sort of anti-hero lead. If you go back to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold he has these fabulously morally ambiguous central characters. He was way ahead of his time with a slightly bleaker, cynical, realistic view of what it meant to be a hero. He’s responsible for what we take for granted in 21st century storytelling, but he was way ahead of the game.

ADTV: Speaking of the antihero, Hugh Laurie was absolutely perfect in the casting, and he’s also obsessed with Le Carré, which is perfect. He had a history with this, didn’t he?

SG: That’s right. By his own admission, he is an obsessive Le Carré fan. When the book came out, he tried to buy the rights and somebody, Sydney Pollack in fact, got there ahead of him. He wanted to play the part that Tom Hiddleston played, but 25 or so years later he had no option but to be Roper. In a way, you sort of thank God for that because I can’t imagine anyone better than Hugh playing Roper and I can’t imagine anyone better than Tom playing Pine. Sometimes, failure and rejection can work to your advantage, and it did in that case.

ADTV: Tom was perfect for his role as Jonathan Pine.

SG: He’s had, rightly, a lot of praise for, I think, what is so hard to do proper justice to in terms of the quality of his performance. There’s so much silence and so much space between words and, with a lesser actor, that would just feel blank and dead and dull, but there’s so much going on inside his head, behind his eyes that you really can watch him, for huge periods of time, seemingly without him doing anything. That’s why what he’s doing is so extraordinary.

ADTV: I can’t say it enough how perfectly they worked together. You struck gold with this one.

SG: It was thrilling. Again, I think one can’t underestimate the role our director Susanne Bier played. If you’re familiar with her work, you know she’s won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film and was nominated another time. She is just a masterful magician with human alchemy. She does her best work in the space between words and the way in which bodies react to one another so that heady mix of Susanne, Tom, and Hugh just created something special that you can only dream of really and then stand back and admire when it happens in front of your eyes.

ADTV: What were the challenges in basically recalibrating the novel? The book came out in 1993. The series was modernized and you changed the end of the book, which worked out incredibly. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but in this case, it really did.

SG: I think the three big changes were, as you said, modernizing it, and that’s where the credit should go in large part to David Farr, our adapter, who had the idea because Le Carré’s original story starts in Cairo. If you do bring it up to date and you’ve got the Cairo story happening four or five years before you get to finding Pine in the Zermatt hotel actually coinciding perfectly with Arab Spring so it all fit. It also combined with the feelings that when Le Carré was writing in the early nineties the whole thing about Mexican drug cartels felt very fresh and, yet, now TV and movies are full of that. It felt more contemporary and resonant to be talking about illicit arms dealings in the Middle Eastern context. All that fit it beautifully and that was a stroke of genius on David Barr’s part.

Photo Credit: Mitch Jenkins/AMC
Photo Credit: Mitch Jenkins/AMC

Then, I think, what happened with the other big change up of turning the character of Burr, who is a man in the book, into a woman, was something I, when I came on board, had in conversations with my partners and Susanne Bier. It was clear that Le Carré had created, which was true to the time, a very male world, but suddenly in a 21st century context, that didn’t feel right. The obvious person to have go through a sex change was Burr. Susanne said there’s only one actor that [she] wanted to work with and that was Olivia Colman. In their first conversation, there was good news and bad news when Olivia said, “Yes, I’d love to do it, but by the way, I’m pregnant.” We then had to navigate our way through the insurance and, needless to say, we weren’t terribly excited to send, by then, a very heavily pregnant woman to Morocco with quite intense filming of running down corridors and guns to her head or whatever. Anyway, we were so excited by the possibility, from a story and character point of view, of not just having a woman in that role, but a pregnant woman that even if the insurance had vetoed Olivia, which they came close to doing, we wrote the part to be pregnant. It seemed, to us, to add so much value and vulnerability and tension to the story as it unfolded.

With the ending, there are some endings that are very satisfying in a novel, but they just don’t work as well on screen. It’s quite hard to articulate, but it’s partly because you can get inside the heads of characters very easily in a novel. In terms of, externalizing satisfying endings, there are some things you have to reinvent. I think we were true to the spirit of the ending of the book but just handled it in a different way. At the end, as you’ve probably read or heard, Le Carré, himself, is really thrilled with how this one’s turned out. We all are such fans of Le Carré so if we made him unhappy, however successful the show had been, that would have been pretty devastating. The fact that it worked as well as it did and he’s delighted is as thrilling as it gets.

ADTV: This is a TV production, but if you were to make a movie of it, you’d have probably two hours. However, TV gives you more hours to get your adaptation across. How did that work for you?

SG: Here’s the thing, and this goes back to why it took so long for the story to come to screen, Hollywood generally has this slightly knee-jerk response when a book, particularly a thriller, appears to just get bought from the assumption that if it’s a good thriller you can turn it into a movie. The truth is, particularly with Le Carré, you can’t condense the story into two hours because if you reduce The Night Manager just to the plot, then you actually lose everything that makes your skin tingle about it, which is that slow burn of the cat and mouse game played out between Pine and Roper. There are some stories that just need more space. Some novels are great at 200 pages and some are great at 600 pages and this happens to be one that works at 600 pages.

The truth is, also, having one director and one writer tell that story over six hours essentially makes it a six hour movie. It just so happens that movie theaters can’t cope with six hour stories [laughs] so it’s perfectly suited for this new golden age of television. You’ve got audiences who want cinematic quality and cinematic complexity and cinematic ambition, but they want to watch it at home with their increasingly growing screens. As multiplex screens get smaller, home screens get bigger so the fusion between the two worlds is actually creating exciting possibilities. I think that there’s no better place for this story to be told than in ways that allow people to consume it at home.

ADTV: When you watch it, it is like a movie. The production values are so incredible and you’re filming in all these great locations. Did you have any challenges when filming in Morocco or wherever?

SG: It’s always a challenge, particularly because of the Roper character being clearly a kind of oligarch, you obviously have to find locations, in particular a villa kind of fortress that reflects his status in the world. When briefing our location scout, someone had done a bit of research and pulled out pictures of houses that were the sort of thing that would work, and someone had actually found a picture of the very house we used. We needed to find the perfect house and base everything around that and our location scout found the very house that we’d used as a comp saying to find something like that and he found that! That house in Majorca, which is owned by a British hedge-fund guy, just couldn’t have been better. Historically, it had been a fortress. It’s exactly the place that someone like Roper would hang out. We sort of extrapolated from that and used Majorca to provide locations, so, when you saw captions that said Morocco or Istanbul or Madrid, that was all in Majorca. We had a second unit camera man go to Cairo and Istanbul and create those scene-setting shots, but the details of it was all in Majorca.

In terms of challenges, we had a great Moroccan crew in Morocco and Spanish crew in Spain and our physical production team did an amazing job navigating their way through different cultures. This is sort of a long winded answer to your question about some of the challenges, but you see in the credits on movies things like ‘best boy’ and ‘grip’ and all those terms the public aren’t familiar with, but the Moroccans had this standard member of their crew who turned up every day when we were filming on location who was a snake charmer. He was there to make sure that we were not invaded by snakes. Susanne adopted him and he stood by Susanne for every waking second of every day and night that we were shooting outside in Marrakech. We had no snakes so either he did a brilliant job or there were no snakes, but I loved the idea that we had our own snake charmer.The Night Manager

The Night Manager
Photo Credit: Des Willie /The Ink Factory/AMC

ADTV:When you’re watching it, and I can’t remember it from the book but, there’s almost a homoerotic connection between Pine and Roper. What do you think draws them to each other?

SG: I think it is in the book and it’s something that happens quite a lot in Le Carré. I think he is very drawn to the idea of good looking men being drawn to one another, and I think that underpins a lot of the key relationships in his storytelling. That’s very much there. They are, in a way, diametrically opposed but sort of two sides of the same coin. That’s a very important part of their relationship and, in terms of the storytelling, it really only works if you’re constantly uncertain as to whether Pine might be seduced by Roper in a way; not sexually seduced, but seduced into his world. That attraction and a kind of admiration of one another’s minds and approaches to the world is part of the appeal and, I think, what also elevates this from being a conventional thriller into something that has great emotion and psychological depth, which is what makes it so satisfying. It’s never overstated, but I think there’s always just so much going on. That homoerotic attraction between those two men is a very important part of it.

ADTV: So, what’s next for you?

SG: As usual, [laughs] one always has three or four things at various stages of development so you never quite know what’s going to pop up next. There’s a project I’ve been developing with Lionsgate and Stephenie Meyer’s company Fickle Fish. Stephenie has optioned a novel called The Rook, which is a supernatural spy story set in London. We’re developing that for Hulu. It’s developed, but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen first but that could be next. At the moment, it’s just incredibly enjoyable and satisfying basking in the glow of The Night Manager going out and that will disappear soon and once it becomes last year’s news then we move on.

The Night Manager airs Tuesday nights on AMC at 10pm ET. The series wraps May 24.

Rhea Seehorn

Better Call Saul‘s Rhea Seehorn talks about the acting, scripting, and filmmaking craft behind the smash cable drama

When talking to Rhea Seehorn, you’re immediately taken aback by how excited she is about the end-to-end craft of filmmaking. Previously best known for her role on NBC’s Whitney, Seehorn definitely excels at interpreting the character of Better Call Saul’s Kim Wexler based on Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, and a host of insanely talented writers’ scripts. Yet, it’s clear that her thirst for the overall craft of filmmaking drives her. Throughout our conversation, Seehorn deftly interjected smart observations and lavish praise for the creative team that helps create one of cable TV’s highest rated series.

At a time in her career when Rhea Seehorn could easily rest on the many accolades and laurels she’s received for her transformative season two performance, it’s completely refreshing to see her so dedicated to the task of accentuating her acting career with a broader experience. Like House of Cards‘ Robin Write and others before her, Seehorn has a keen interest in the task of direction, and, based on her intuitive eye, it’s a career direction that would undoubtedly server her well.

As Better Call Saul‘s Kim Wexler, Rhea Seehorn is the unique center of the show, balancing between the flexible ethics of Jimmy McGill and her own infallible moral center – a dichotomy that may well prove the couple’s end. While Seehorn has always been a strong component of the series, her season two performance has elevated her to new heights, putting her on par with Emmy-nominated co-stars Bob Odenkirk and Johnathan Banks as well as critically acclaimed Michael McKean. Her quiet, yet silently powerful, performance imbues the character of Kim Wexler with such clear presence that, even if she’s not speaking, you’re never unaware of her place in the scene.

Through our conversation, I could not help but be hugely impressed by Seehorn’s raw intelligence and insight into the complex series. Here’s hoping Emmy voters remain similarly impressed when the voting window kicks off in mid-June.

AwardsDaily TV: Happy belated birthday, Rhea Seehorn! How did you spend the day?

Rhea Seehorn: Thank you! I am shadowing the director Scott Winant [Emmy-winner for Thirtysomething]. Just trying to learn directing because it’s something I’ve always wanted to learn more about. I usually just watch when I’m on sets for my own shows. It’s informative as an actor just to understand all parts of the machinery, but I’d also like to direct one day. So, it was a great day, learning for 14 hours!

ADTV: That’s great, so should we expect you to take up the director’s chair on Better Call Saul in an upcoming season?

RS: Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t discussed that at all. I have my hands full with my own character. I’ve never  aspired to direct myself. Right now, I’m just loving creating Kim [Wexler] on that, and that takes up all of my brain space.

ADTV: So what brought you to Better Call Saul originally?

RS: I auditioned for it with Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, and Russell Scott. They cast Breaking Bad, so they’ve been with those guys for a long time. Sharon and Sherry have auditioned me for other things over the years, so I’ve played a range of characters for them. Casting directors, especially great ones like them, tend to know a larger body of your work than anybody because its all the stuff for which you didn’t even get the part. They really know my approach, the way I work, and the types of characters that they think would be a good fit for me… It was a really fun audition, a really wide-open audition to just do your best and see if you’re the right person to tell the story.


ADTV: I know the way Vince Gilligan [series creator] works so a lot of the character was there on the page. Tell me, though, how did you define the character of Kim?

RS: You know, it is… and Bob [Odenkirk] has said this too… it’s 99 percent in the text. Their scripts are just so incredibly strong, and we have almost no rewrites… which is very uncommon in the business. You can begin to build a foundation pretty much the second you get the script. It’s pretty much all there. Even when I had my very first episode for season one – the pilot, I’m seated in the conference room scene, and Jimmy comes in with the Ned Beatty “You will atone” speech from Network – which is amazing. The first time I speak or do anything is in the parking garage, and it’s really just one sentence broken into two parts… and we share a cigarette. But it’s all there. By that, I mean, even when you don’t have lines, you can read the scripts and get these very fine nuances where you can start to build the outline of your character. You’re forever coming up with new parameters of what edge they can go to and new details to add and then you kind of fill in. It’s a process of deduction.

If you’re sharing a cigarette with somebody and take it out of your own mouth and put it back and you don’t flinch (which was written in the script), then you know you have a history with them. We can finish each other’s sentences, so that also implies a long history. And it’s clear we’ve had this argument many, many times if I know exactly where it’s going exactly when he starts it. That says a lot about somebody, and it says something about their relationship. That’s how their scripts are written. It’s not just the beautiful dialogue, it’s the entire environment that is constantly giving you colors to use. To paint the portrait you’re trying to make… Even though we don’t know anything past the script we have, you have enough to build a three-dimensional person. There’s something that’s magical about their writing where I’ve never come across a contradiction about Kim’s life… It always seems revelatory about her. It just becomes an inspiration to interpret, and they [the creative team] really trust their actors. They all love to see how many thousands of ways you can play a line, and that’s a really wonderful environment to work in.

ADTV: So, I reached out to Twitter to get a sense of what people would like to ask you. One of the questions I’d received was around Breaking BadBetter Call Saul comparisons. There are a lot of fans who consider Better Call Saul a better show than Breaking Bad. What are your thoughts on the comparison?

RS: Hmm… You know what, I don’t bother comparing them. I think it’s odd to compare them. I’m a huge Breaking Bad fan, still am. There are narrative links to it doing origin stories of two main characters… but the whole thing [Better Call Saul] is definitely its own show. And that’s more of what I focus on. We make sure it’s its own vehicle. Even though there are recognizable similarities, I think most people would agree that it has its own life, its own world that is slightly different. Vince has said this before, for instance, that in Better Call Saul you’re following a character who’s desperately trying to be good versus a character who is allowing his sociopath to come out… I don’t compare them. I just really celebrate that I feel like they’ve made this very rich tapestry that has these seeds that we know that blossom in this other show, but yet it’s its own thing. It would die in the shadow of Breaking Bad if it wasn’t.

ADTV: So, to me, season two feels like Kim Weller’s coming out party. Season one was mostly about the drama between the two brothers [Jimmy and Chuck], and now in season two, you’re a third part of that triangle. What was your first reaction as you started reading some of these scripts as you realized your role was being dramatically increased in size and scope?

RS: Well, I’ve been asked quite a bit what did Vince [Gilligan] and Peter [Gould] tell you about the season and that I was going to have all this stuff this season. But we didn’t. There were no talks, and you get it script by script. It doesn’t come down to counting lines or counting scenes… I mean, look at the Jonathan Banks character, just a brilliant character who says almost nothing… So, you just want to be present in the world, and I knew my character wasn’t going to be a tertiary object because they just don’t write people like that. I mean, even in season one, I relished that she was always three dimensional and always had a point of view in the scenes I was in. By the time I got the stuff for season two, my favorite thing I started to notice was that Kim’s decision not to speak was a reflection of her power.

She’s very observational and much less reactionary than a lot of the characters that she’s around. Kim’s very pragmatic and level-headed. It’s fun to see that that’s not a weakness to be silent in scenes and be observant. Because we work on an episode and then about three days later get the script for the next one… it never occurred to me that it might be this whole season that unfolds with this information about her. You just play it scene by scene, and that’s how you present you have to be when you’re in their material. You never really know what’s around the corner for any character. As a fan of their writing, I love how they answer one question and raise two. It’s fun to keep up with that, and I just want to make sure that I interpret this great story as best as I can.

ADTV: One of my very favorite moments for you in season two is how you engage in these con games with Jimmy. I fantasize that it’s Kim’s version of “breaking bad” a little. Why do you think she engages in those games with Jimmy?

RS: I don’t know yet. I certainly have my own opinions, and it was discussed (in the script and with the director Thomas Schnauz) is she good at them and why is she good at them? You see she just didn’t choose to participate in them, she’s actually pretty good at it. There’s a lot of possibilities there… I never believed Kim loved Jimmy because she had her head in the sand. I always believed that she knew who he was – maybe not every single detail or line that he crossed – but she could have possibly seen him do cons or was aware of the scene he came from. It didn’t feel unfamiliar to her. She’s kind of enticed into it the first time and then she initiated it the second time. But it didn’t feel completely unfamiliar to her. I don’t know where that comes from yet. I’m still learning that. It certainly was fun to show that side of her and for her to grapple with what are the boundaries for her between what’s okay and what’s immoral. There’s legal versus illegal, moral versus amoral, and ethical versus unethical.

I feel like all of the characters in Better Caul Saul feel like they know how to hang on to right and wrong, and they keep finding out that it depends on your perspective. It depends on the situation. It depends on life. It’s much more upsetting to find that all of that lies on a spectrum, that it’s not just black and white. So, that was another reason that it was fun for me to play those scenes. She’s toying with that. She’s toying with not being able to hang on to that anymore, and she’s enjoying watching Jimmy be great at them too. Kind of like the audience. We as watchers of the show are enticed by Jimmy succeeding at these cons. But I don’t know right now what any of that means for Kim.

Rhea Seehorn

ADTV: There’s still a lot of discovery there.

RS: There is [laughs]! The good news about me not having a lot of answers is that I can’t accidentally spoil anything.

ADTV: That’s true. Vince keeps a tight hold on his direction for the series, I guess.

RS: Well, he honestly doesn’t know. He and Peter aren’t lying when they say they didn’t know things were going to happen or that they don’t know the ultimate direction of the series. They really don’t know.

ADTV: I like that though. I like letting the characters drive the story line rather than have some artificial endgame that you’re driving toward. It feels more organic that way. 

RS: It does! It does. And I didn’t realize until I was in talks with them how uncommon that is. It’s a pretty big gamble to not be sure if all your pieces are going to fit in the end. Those are two smart dudes as well as the whole writer’s room.

ADTV: I can’t even imagine. So, I have two iconic moments for Kim that I want to talk about. One is when you’re rainmaking, trying to drum up new business. How was it for you filming that scene?

RS: That was amazing. That entire montage… ten or eleven phone calls… Forgive me, it’s largely done in post… Oh, that’s another thing, you can film it all, and then you see what Kelley Dixon [editor] does with it. That’s a joy to see. It was like watching magic all over again because the post… putting in the Spanish version of “My Way…” Just brilliant. So, eight to ten phone calls plus the pocket dialogue that is either overwritten with music or you only either gets bits and pieces of it… And then they wanted it to reflect three or four days of time passing, meaning there’s costume changes, and then Kim doesn’t have an office so she’s going to be looking for somewhere to set up shop somewhat privately. But we shot all of that in one day with just me for about fourteen hours… it was amazing.

John Shiban directed it, and Ann Cherkis wrote it. I start with that beautiful scene where I say, “You don’t save me. I save me.” to Jimmy… But all of those phone calls were done on a single day, and the whole thing was like a pit crew. You had to change the costumes. Change the props. The post-its were a practical nightmare with names being cleared, numbers being cleared, and the colors staying the same so that they would match if you went in and out of these scenes. They would also have to be put in the same place each time, and there’s this beautiful crane shooting the scene from outside. And I have to do the phone calls over and over without a scene partner physically there. I mean, you do with the person on the other end of the phone. I actually wrote the other half of the phone calls, and I made them all different just to keep my head on straight. There’s a difference between a friend of a friend versus the dude I used to hang out with in law school or the mother of an old college friend who now works at a law firm. I wanted all of those phone calls to feel different, and that was really the only way to keep myself straight as far as the performance of it. And then if you’d turned around to see behind the crane, there’s the pit crew making it all happen. It was this beautiful circus.

ADTV: And it works so brilliantly. 

RS: Oh, thank you for the compliment. One other thing I want to add about the scene is the use of the wides [wide angle lenses] and what a great call that was. These scenes are just beautiful, and they’re so much more than the extreme close-ups that TV is obsessed with right now. They’re so much more beautiful and painterly and monumental. I feel like the viewer is oddly more a part of the scene that way even though you’re physically farther from the action.

ADTV: Totally agree. I’d written a piece a while back about the cinematographer being the unsung hero of the show… It’s just amazing work. It is painterly.

RS: Yeah, I read your piece on that, and you were right. It is another character on the show. This line Arthur Albert walks… his framing… his composition… walks this fine line in being as much a part of the story as anything else and yet he’s not intrusive. I don’t watch it and get pulled out of the scene. It’s always illustrative of the narrative we’re telling.

ADTV: Another brilliant scene that I sort of consider your “money” scene for the season was the confrontation between Jimmy and Chuck at the end of the season where you’re effectively choosing a side between the two. Tell me a little about what was going on in your head while you were filming that scene.

RS: The scene confronting Chuck was maybe one of the most fun times to be on Twitter ever [laughs]. People were SCREAMING… That’s Peter Gould’s writing and directing in that one. And, of course, Michael McKean is giving a tour-de-force monologue. That whole scene and the dynamic is so complicated and constantly unfolding. I feel like a show is smart when it makes its audience feel smart, and this scene does that. You’re being asked as a viewer to keep up… I mean, on one hand, Chuck’s such an asshole for accusing Jimmy of this and the whole time you know he did do it. He’s absolutely correct, and yet you’re mad at him for saying it! And Bob’s [Odenkirk] over there brilliantly playing this guy who cannot figure out if he’s getting busted and what does Kim think and he can’t ask her otherwise he’ll get busted. I mean, I get to play this huge roller coaster of emotions in this one scene again without saying a word. It’s a very Kim moment, and I love them for protecting that part of her. I love all of the directors on the show for encouraging, inspiring, and allowing the performance that I bring to it.

Kim plays her cards very close to her chest, and I’ve never been told that I’ve got to indicate to the audience exactly what I think. I’m so glad because you do get told that sometimes… I think she hears this scam, the more details that come out, the more it sounds like something Jimmy would do. And she realizes it, knows his intentions were in the right place, but the execution is so off as usual… Playing her thought process before she spoke was as fun to me and as important to me as an actor as when she finally says something to Chuck. I spoke to Peter for a while about when she finally confronts Chuck and how it couldn’t be a yelling and screaming moment because that wouldn’t feel like a Kim moment. She makes a choice to protect [Jimmy], but there’s an absolute truth to what she’s saying to Chuck. That’s part of these multiple layers to these scenes that are so fun to play… The emotion of the scene doesn’t really happen until she gets to the car when she punches him [laughs].

ADTV: OK, one last question. When you’re not watching Better Call Saul, what are you watching?

RS: Catastrophe. Umm, I love TV. I watch so much TV. House of CardsPeaky Blinders. I was obsessed with Togetherness on HBO and was very sad when that was cancelled. There’s so much great TV that I want to watch and just don’t have enough time.

Watch full episodes of Better Call Saul season two on Episodes are also available on streaming content providers. Better Call Saul returns for season three in 2017.

Rhea Seehorn
Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler – Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/Sony Pictures Television/AMC

Jonathan Tucker

ADTV talks to Jonathan Tucker whose run on DirecTV’s Kingdom has Emmy voters talking

For those who’ve never seen it, DirecTV’s Kingdom takes us into the world of mixed-martial arts (MMA) fighting. But don’t let that stop you. The show also is a character-driven drama that stars pop star Nick Jonas as an up-and-coming fighter and Jonathan Tucker as his troubled brother. Critics have taken notice. Tucker’s performance on the series has been called “mesmerizing” and “unreal” by Entertainment Weekly. Jonathan Tucker has even been compared to Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale (The Fighter) in his ability to completely transform his physical appearance to fit a role. 

Now in its second season, Kingdom deftly combines family drama and conflict while taking us into the sport of MMA. I recently caught up with Jonathan Tucker to talk about how he trained for the role and what he’s learned from playing a MMA fighter.

AwardsDaily TV: For people who haven’t actually seen the show, tell us a little bit about your character.

Jonathan Tucker: Jay Kulina is a drug-addled son and brother in a fighting family, kind of like the first fighting family, if you will, of Venice, California. He’s a man of extremes, real highs and real lows. He’s always grounded by loyalty and love for those he cares about.

ADTV: One thing I learned from watching the show is that it actually made me appreciate MMA. I’ve watch a little bit of boxing in the past but not MMA. I have some friends who do it, but I’ve never really paid too much attention to it. I learned that it teaches me about brotherhood. Is that something that was the same for you?

JT: Absolutely. Its this kind of extraordinary balance of two things. One, you’re the only person in the cage when you go to fight somebody. Really, it’s not just you against the other fighter. It’s really you against yourself. It’s this deeply lonely experience. There’s no defense. There’s no offense. There’s no running back to pass the ball to or receiver to throw it to. This is just you. It’s you against yourself.

The second part of that equation, is that you can’t get there alone. You have to have that team to cut weight, to train with, to be able to spiritually and mentally be able to prepare yourself for that kind of crucial moment and experience of fighting. That was something I didn’t understand at all, but I’ve gotten to understand that profoundly both as the character and as the actor playing the character. Particularly with cutting weight, my house was filled with fighters who lost weight for the week to finish off those last few pounds and you really can’t do it without that camaraderie.

Jonathan TuckerADTV: You talk about the physical preparation of it. I read somewhere that you lost like 30 pounds for the role. Usually, that’s something you hear that movie stars do, not often with TV shows. So, it was very physical for you. What was that process like, having to train your body?

JT: It’s a welcomed opportunity because I think, as an actor, part of the craft is being an athlete. It’s being a dancer. It’s being a sort of fighter in your own respect. You have to appreciate and work on your body and how you bring movement. This is that marriage, in a very heightened way, of the physicality and the spiritual in respect to the craft.

It’s not about losing 30 pounds. It’s more about losing 30 pounds and then gaining 30 pounds and then losing 20 pounds and gaining 20 pounds. It’s a seesaw going up and down while always keeping up that fighting regimen in the gym. So, that part is hard because this isn’t a 2-month movie. This is basically a 6-month journey and, a lot of the time, if you’re going to be cutting weight as a fighter, you’re going to cut for a week or two before a fight. But, because episodes take as long as it takes to do the shoot, if we’re going to be cutting weight for a week in the story, its going to be four weeks on the show. That’s a real battle of will with yourself to either not eat or to be eating quite a bit.

ADTV: Did you actually have any side effects from it at all?

JT: Oh yeah [laughs]. Try not eating for a few days, and it takes almost until the end of the first day and you’re extraordinarily grumpy and uncomfortable. You try to have that be a part of the work. The most important thing about the conversation of the experience of shooting the show is that all of this, the physicality and the fighting and the extremes of the training and getting your body ready, it’s really just a means in which to tell the story of these characters and to reflect them in an honest and authentic way.

ADTV: How many hours are you training for a day?

JT: It’s not how long. It’s how intensely you’re doing it. I’m sure you go to the gym, and there’s people who go every single day and they work out for an hour every single day and nothing seems to change. It really just has to do with the intensity of the training and how hard you’re willing to work when it seems like you’re body is not willing to give you any more. You kind of step further than you ever thought was possible and then you start to see the results. But, it’s also the same thing with acting. You want to keep putting yourself in uncomfortable positions. You have to be able to discover what your weaknesses are as an actor or as an athlete or as a fighter. That’s the first big goal, what are your blindspots and what can you work on? When you recognize that and it’s a little scary, how do you address it?

How do you put yourself into a place, while extraordinarily uncomfortable, you’re going to be becoming a better actor and better human being and better athlete and better whatever you might be. Those are the things are very exciting for me as an actor. Is there an accent that I haven’t worked on and how scary is that and can I find a place where I’m going to put myself on the line and really address this? And different characters and different practicalities and different body work and spiritual work and all those sort of things, if you’re feeling comfortable, there’s something wrong.

ADTV: There’s one scene that really stays with me so much. It was the scene when you and Frank are together. Jay just won his belt and Alvey comes to see him and he finally sees that moment that his son is actually a champ. What was it like filming that scene? There wasn’t music in the background, there was no noise, it was just an intense and deep moment.

JT: It was one of the harder scenes for me, and by for me, I mean for Jay, because all of the sudden there’s this sense of validation and pride that has nothing to do with who I am as a human being and everything to do with that piece of hardware. It really reflects their relationship and the characters in it because it’s like “Here I am, and I’m your son and you should be proud of me for just being your son. Having won this fight, you ask me to lose all this weight as my father, instead of allowing me to fight at the weight that would have been healthy. You ask me to do this even though you never ask me to go to rehab and never ask me to get clean and never ask my mother to get clean, but now, all of the sudden, like a 10-year-old boy with a sense of ‘fatherly pride’ because somehow I won. I have this really good gut feeling that you wouldn’t have had that same love and compassion if I had lost.”

That was the difference between Jay and my dad. My father has an extraordinary inability to see himself as the world sees him and to see the world as it really is. The line that would address that scene is the one from the first season when I set this family dinner up and surprise my father with it and during that dinner we had a kind of big explosion and I said, “I’m a fuck-up, but at least I know I’m a fuck-up.” My father is a fuck-up and can’t acknowledge it, and it’s that inability to see himself that makes the scene with the belt at the end so painful.

ADTV: There are so many scenes, but that one stays with you because of the way they shoot it and the characters are great. What are some of your favorite moments or highlights from the season?

JT: As an actor, you feel so lucky to have a character who has these extremes in a world of highs and lows. This isn’t going to the supermarket. It’s going to the supermarket when it’s getting robbed and to be put in that situation with this character is everything you ever wanted out of the role in the high school play. It’s not larger than life. It’s life when it’s large. That is really, really scary because you’re coming into a scene like, “Okay, well I’m opening this door and I’m going to open it like 15 to 20 times and every take I open it for the first time, and I’m going to see my mother passed out, maybe potentially dead from a heroin overdose.” That’s such great, meaty material and how is my character going to respond to this? But then, on the day, you’re like, “Oh my God, I’m going to be opening this door 20 times, for the first time, with my mother potentially dead having overdosed on heroin.” The world itself presents a lot of dichotomous feelings and emotions and experiences.

ADTV:  How has the MMA community reacted to your role in this? Have they been favorable?

JT: I could not be more honored by their enthusiasm for the character and the veracity of the character and the world that Byron Balasco, our showrunner, has created. What’s really great is that it has top-to-bottom support, like from the owners of the USC all the way down to the guys who are sleeping in gyms to train with no family support or financial means. The support and the acknowledgment of the truth of the characters has given me so much honor.

ADTV: What’s next for you? What are you up to now?

JT: I had a great time, in between the hiatus last year, doing the final half season of  Justified, which was such a thrill for me because I’m such a big fan of the show. In terms of talking about being uncomfortable, that was such a daunting offer to get because I’m such a big fan of the show, and I love these actors and it’s the final season and [I was] the big final bad guy and it was critical that I honored the fans of this show and, in doing so, you have to really do something dynamic. How do you not go over the line? That was an exciting thing to do.

This hiatus, I’m doing a few episodes as Low-Key Lyesmith on this new Starz show called American Gods with Bryan Fuller. I’ve worked with him in the past, and I love him very much. That’s again one of those things where I’m playing a god and there’s all these rules, in terms of the Greek and Norse mythologies, of what you’re allowed to do and not allowed to do. But you’re also playing a god who can kind of do anything he wants. The boundaries are much further and wider than other opportunities. This is a fun chance to take some big leaps and risks and I’m excited about it.

ADTV: What can you tell us about your involvement in the Pegasus Fund?

JT: I’m thrilled that you’re asking me about it! I kind of feel like given how much is given, much is required. A number of years ago having graduated from my high school, which was a boarding school in Ojai (I’m originally from Boston), I was able to recognize the fact that I had been really privileged with my education. My parents sacrificed quite a bit of luxuries in life to send my sister and I to really extraordinary schools. There was an issue I had seen a number of times with students in under-served communities coming to private secondary school environments and struggling a lot with the environment, the geography, the spirituality, and transitions from their own communities. So, what we do, in terms of adjusting that problem, is work with a national charter program to take the top performing students and send them to a summer camp to help them adjust. We’re getting them in the fifth and sixth grade and commit to three summers as a means to have them bridge that geographic, social, and spiritual transition and introduce them to high school. It’s the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.

Jonathan Tucker can be seen next on season two of DirecT’s Kingdom, which continues June 1 at 9pm ET on Audience. For more information on The Pegasus Fund, click here.

ADTV talks to The Good Wife‘s Chris Noth about his seven seasons on the Emmy-winning show

It’s the morning after the series finale of CBS’s The Good Wife, and after seven years, the show has come to an end. Its star Chris Noth is in Budapest filming Tyrant, and I caught up with Noth after a long day of filming his new show to reflect on playing Peter Florrick, The Good Wife, and fly swotting…

“I have to warn you I’ve missed EVERYTHING! I haven’t seen any of it.” Chris Noth tells me before we start. “I finished the episode on the Friday and I was on a plane to Budapest on Monday. I don’t know what the hell is going on, except THE SHOW IS OVER!.”

He jokes.

ADTV: Did you think it would last this long? Seven years is a long time.

Chris Noth: Oh never. I was just surfing the wave. I didn’t know the wave would be that long of one. I was happy to keep riding it. I loved working with the Kings who are such wonderful producers. I loved the cast and the way they used actors from the New York Stage. But I was a glorified guest star. Not being a regular allowed me to do plays and other things at the same time which was important to me. It was great to come back home to The Good Wife after I had gone off on my own sojourns. How was it? (the finale) [laughs]

ADTV: I stayed off social media, especially as it was airing on the East Coast, and I really loved it.

CN: Well, I know what the ending was, and I love it too. The last moment with Alicia (Julianna Margulies) standing at the end of the corridor in the back kitchen where we had so many scenes together, she’s in this sort of purgatory that I found really fascinating and interesting.

ADTV: Do you have a favorite plot line that stands out that you really loved?

CN: I liked running for Governor and the intrigue around that. I didn’t enjoy being under house arrest. The scenes with Eli and his conniving ways were a lot of fun too.

ADTV: On the political note, how did you feel about the parallels of Alicia and Peter to Bill and Hillary Clinton?

CN: You know it’s very tenuous. I don’t think you could really ride that horse. It’s fun to think, and I’m sure that maybe they had an impulse of something like that. Certainly it wasn’t mimicking their relationship, but you know a political marriage and two very powerful smart people, that all makes sense.

I think that was a fortuitous moment in contemporary history that that relationship bore fictional fruits for us, but that’s as far as it went.

I heard Hillary was a fan of the show by the way.

ADTV: She is. She listed it as a favorite last year. So, how did Peter change over the years?

CN: Oh man. I’m not sure this particular animal in him changed his stripes that much. I think people become more of who they are as time goes on instead of changing.

[Up to this point, a fly in the room has been annoying Chris. He finally manages to swot this fly. It’s a proud and amusing moment when he finally swots the fly with his script].

So, I think he adjusted when he had to, for survival. Peter gets a bad rap. My character doesn’t always fare too well with journalists. They all think of my character as pretty much a scumbag [laughs].

ADTV: But you know, that is a testament to your acting. I mean, you’ve created some of the most iconic characters on TV and in 20 years we’ll be looking back on Mr. Big and Peter Florrick.

CN: It’s really hard to still have people ask me questions about Mr. Big. I’ve exhumed that from my psyche.

ADTV: He’s still haunting you to this day?

CN: Oh God yes! Even here in Budapest, people come up to me with cameras. I have a very good disguise, thou, so I’m able to get away with walking down the street.

ADTV: Something that’s a great testament to you and Juliana is the way your work dynamic is. It resonates with the fans and then you have those epic fights on screen. Were those scenes challenging?

CN: I remember one early fight when we both really went for it. The Kings thought it was too harsh that early. They thought it was too Virginia Woolf. We had to reshoot it. Through that marriage, I feel they were held together by the emotional scar tissue of their past and present. I think their battle was an essential part of their relationship. Her not really being able to forgive him. Then after a while, Peter resenting that he still has to prove himself to her. They were a match for each other intellectually and everything else.

Peter and Alicia made a lot of adjustments so they wouldn’t have to make the final leap that they did at the end, which was her saying, “That’s it. I want a divorce.” They did everything through the seasons not to do that but not actually live as a married couple. Their marriage is a fascinating evolution. Just when you think they’ve had enough of each other, something happens and they’re suddenly close again.

By the end, by finally giving in I think they opened themselves up to each other in a way they hadn’t in a while and found an intimacy in a shared past.

ADTV: After the finale, what would you see as the future for Alicia and Peter?

CN: I have no idea. [laughs]. I’m too busy in a fictional Mideast country trying to prevent a war.

ADTV: The Good Wife has such a loyal fan base. Do you ever read what they say?

CN: I’ve heard, but no, I’m really out of the loop of all of that. I can’t do it. I don’t mean it derogatorily, I simply don’t have the time to see what they like and don’t like. I just figure they hate my guts. [laughs].

ADTV: No. They love you. You know what they do? They write fan fiction about how they yearn for Alicia and Peter to be.

CN: Oh really? That’s funny.

ADTV: Well, it must be nice to be away from it all, especially in Budapest.

CN: You’re right. It’s a magical city. It has embraced its past and instead of tearing it down, you see a lot of the older people mixing with younger people. The scars of war and revolution are on the faces of buildings but they kept the outer structure and rebuilt the inside. It’s a beautiful city.

It’s fun to be away from the hullaballoo. You know I wish I could have gone to that [The Good Wife] cast party.

ADTV: Aww. Maybe they’ll throw another party just in your honor. OK, so let’s talk about Tyrant. Aside from being a fly killer, what can you tell me about that?

CN: [laughs] He’s a very interesting guy with a lot of emotional baggage, which as a General you can’t expose. The show allows for me to have a very interesting backstory with his marriage and what he’s doing in Aberdeen, representing America and trying to help out. I think it’s a really different kind of show.

We have a fantastic international cast from all over the Mideast and London with a great group of talented people. It’s so far from what I’ve been doing on The Good Wife, for me, Tyrant is a nice leap. I like obscure shows such as The Knick and Peaky Blinders. I think Tyrant is like that. It’s obscure and still waiting for a bigger American audience, which it deserves.

ADTV: I’ve not seen Peaky Blinders, but I’ve heard of that.

CN: Now, you’ve got to see it. [laughs] An American is telling you, a Brit to watch it. I put Tyrant in that category. It’s a well-kept secret.

ADTV: One last closing note, would you be friends with Peter?

CN: Yeah! I would I’d have a drink and smoke a cigar with him. He’s got a good sense of humor. I would.

The series finale of The Good Wife aired Sunday night. Tyrant airs on FX.

Sign In

Reset Your Password

Email Newsletter