Interviews

Michael Kelly

House of Cards co-star Michael Kelly talks about his 2-time Emmy nominated role as Doug Stamper

Doug Stamper, played by 2016 Emmy nominee Michael Kelly, has been through it all on Netflix’s House of Cards. He’s a killer. He’s had brain surgery. He suffers from addiction. In Season 4, Frank Underwood’s loyal aide was prepared to give up his own liver after the President had been shot but arranged for a transplant as only Doug Stamper could, an act that haunted him the entire season.

Michael Kelly received a second Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role this year. Breathe a sign of relief – Kelly is nothing like Stamper. He’s a family man whose young children celebrated with him the morning he was nominated. AwardsDaily TV caught up with Michael Kelly to talk about Doug and how he switches from family man to Underwood’s dark and twisted right hand man.

Where were you when you heard you’d been nominated?

A really good friend of mine has a cool house on Long Beach Island on the Jersey Coast. He goes to California every year with his family, and he gives us his house so we were there. I knew the announcements were coming up, but that morning, I had forgotten about it because I was going to DC that evening, funny enough for House of Cards with our music composer at the Kennedy Center. It just slipped my mind, and I was out watering the garden and my wife told me to come in and eat. I went in and I saw my phone that had a text message saying, “Good luck today, I’ll be thinking of you.” I realized it was nomination day, and my wife joked, “You know you’re not getting nominated this year because we’re together.” I’m not joking when I say this, but I never get good news when we’re together. I’m always away working, and we’re just never together. As I opened the computer and my phone started going crazy. It was so funny. She was so happy, my kids were jumping up and down and had no idea why they were jumping up and down, but they were happy too.

I didn’t think it was going to happen this year. It’s a crazy category and there are so many great people and so many incredible actors who didn’t get nominated. I was so fortunate.

Doug Stamper, every season. There’s such a great team who surprises you each year with where they’re going to go with him. He’s a killer, and this year he almost gave up his liver for Frank. He is in a way the core of the show. How does that make you feel when you hear that?

It’s funny because Doug is not Doug without Francis being Francis. People can say whatever, but it’s everything. The writers are so great, and we all care so much about it. I made a point last year when I was nominated to have the crew pull together at the end of the day, and I thanked them because none of it was possible without any of them. David Fincher set that role model when we started. Everyone comes and gives 100% and pays attention to the most minute detail and it shows. I think different people have different characters that they love, but it’s funny because none of those characters work without the others.

Why is he still loyal to Frank? I mean Frank is the devil incarnate. [Laughs]

There’s no doubt that Doug trusts Frank with everything and anything. I think it’s vice versa, especially when we saw what Claire did to Frank this past season. The two of them trust each other with everything. There’s a love there between them and the utmost respect. A lot of it has to do with Doug’s addiction issues. He is addicted to that job and to doing the best he can do. Yes, he loves Frank, and there’s no one he would rather work for, but a lot of it is addiction to his job and doing it the best he can do.

Michael Kelly
(Photo: Netflix)

You said you have a wonderful family and you’re so far removed from Doug. How do you switch on to him when you get to work?

[laughs] A lot of it I do on my drive to and from work. I live with the family in New York, and I keep an apartment in Baltimore. It’s about a 3-hour drive. I very rarely put on the radio. I either drive in silence, or I will listen to my dialogue. I record all my dialogue and listen to it, and I fall back into that guy. I’m not method. I have fun. Kevin and I have a lot of fun together on set. It’s always a fun day when the two of us are working together. It just allows me to fall back into that place.

I have a very minimalist apartment in Baltimore and that helps a lot. After this many years too, and my understanding of Doug has grown too. That’s a big help and makes it somewhat easier. In the beginning, I thought it was nuts. [Laughs] Beau Willimon, our showrunner and writer, did a lot to help me create that character. He gave me some early notes before we had even met. He asked if I had any questions, and I had a million of them. He said, “At least this season (one), I don’t want you to emote. Just don’t emote.” I said, “OK.” He said he wanted everyone at the end of Season 1 to ask, “What is up with this guy? What’s his deal?” I went along with that, and from that came so much of Doug. His voice and the way he holds himself. That all helped shape the character for me.

What goes through your head when you’re reading the script? As a viewer, I want more. I want to know what comes next, so I’ll watch the next episode.

What goes through my head? Am I still alive at the end of the episode? [Laughs] Most of the time, I’ll be reading it thinking I can’t wait to do this scene. It really is. I feel the same when I’m reading it. I read the script the first time for pure entertainment because I love reading them. Then I go back and start my homework on them. When the show comes out, my wife and I watch the show together. We are big fans of the show. It’s been so long since I did it, and I only do my scenes, so I don’t get to see the other scenes. There’s so many compelling characters, so you read it, you forget about it, and then you see it.

This past season, we saw the introduction of Lady Stamper. How is doing scenes with Neve?

She’s so great. She’s something else. Neve and I have become really good friends since starting the show. The first day we started working together, I said, “Look at you, Lady Stamper.” It caught on. The writers caught on, and it’s such an interesting dynamic between the two. She’s such an interesting force. The two of them. The two of us makes for such an interesting dynamic. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with that.

You are brilliant together on screen. I have to just say that. This show is incredible, and they just keep delivering great episode after episode. But let’s talk about how the writers seem to have predicted political events before they happened. Did you notice that?

Every year I notice it. Beau and the other writers do it before we see it. The fact that every year something happens or coincides with our show. Every year, I think it’s crazy or insane. The contested conventions almost happened with both parties this year in real laugh. That to me is nuts. Now, in the last year, I’m reading the script and wonder what’s going to happen. [Laughs]

I look back and then I say, “This happened on House of Cards.”

Donald Trump and the KKK. That was one thing we joked about saying it would never happen, and then it did.

Thank God we both support Hillary. So, were you a political person before you took on the role?

I was political before. I was pursuing a degree in political science when I fell into acting and took an elective one year. I have a decent understanding, and during this show I became more interested. I became involved and lobbied on the hill for seniors in our country.

I went and met with congressmen and women. The President signed it, and it passed. I am political, and I’ve been on Hillary’s side from the get go. She’s someone who has dedicated her entire life to public service, and how can you question that? How can you question her experience. Sanders was inspirational and had some great ideas, but I felt like we are so divided with the Senate and House being controlled by the Republicans, not that they’re going to be great and open. I felt like she has a better chance. I felt she could carry on the torch.

What scenes were a highlight for you this season?

I loved doing that scene with Robin in the hospital, and we go head to head. I forgot what we said, but Doug says, “I’m staying here with the man I care about,” and she’s leaving. To go with Robin in the scene and look at each other’s eyes and we said very few words, it was really fulfilling.

The challenging scene was with Derek Cecil where I put the cup over his mouth. We disagreed going into it. We talked over it with Beau, then the two of us. We worked it a few times, and we got there. On the day, the challenge was going from zero to 60. I was threatening him and his wife. It was physically challenging. It goes back to the team where everybody is there for you 100 percent. You also have a show where we truly like each other and we work on stuff outside of work is such a big bonus.

House of Cards Seasons 1-4 are currently streaming on Netflix. 

Tituss Burgess

“I know I don’t often pray, but if you’re listening, Black Jesus from the Madonna “Like a Prayer” video, give me a sign.”

“It will be my toughest role ever, and I once played a straight corpse on America’s Most Wanted.”

“Midnight, Eastern Gay time, which is 3 am.”

One could spend all day listing some of the finest quotes from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Titus Andromedon, but we’ll save that for another post. Tituss Burgess received his second Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Andromedon on the Netflix show and deservedly so. From his love of musicals, to his iconic, “Peeno Noir” (Did you know Burgess has launched his own website selling wine?), Burgess plays Kimmy’s BFF to sheer perfection.  We had the chance to catch up and talk Emmys, his new project and of course playing that person who you want as your BFF – Titus Andromedon.

What were you doing when you found out that you were nominated?

I was playing the piano. I’m working on a musical. I was re-writing some material and my partner called me downstairs, and he said, “Did you forget what the day is?” I got downstairs, and he was the one who told me.

What’s this musical you’re working on?

We’ll be announcing it soon, but it’s based on a popular movie that came out in 1996. I’ll be doing some research then. [Laughs]

I remember seeing you on Broadway as Sebastian in The Little Mermaid.

Oh my goodness.

From Broadway to Netflix.

I couldn’t be happier.

How did Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt change from Season 1 to Season 2 for you?

A lot of the characters got more developed back stories. Particularly for Titus, I thought with the explanation of the marriage, the divorce and the introduction of his boyfriend, that it explained a lot of his eccentricities. Rather than just having to accept Titus as a brazen sassy-prass, you kind of understand how sassy he is on the inside. He’s vulnerable and he comes from a rural town where he could not be his truest self. Sometimes when people are running towards liberty, it goes so far in the opposite direction of who they were sometimes just to over compensate, or it’s just the taste of freedom that creates these large oversized personalities. That has a lot to do with the progression and augmentation of the show from Season 1 to Season 2.

That’s something I really loved about the show – this back story about Titus. What was it like when you were reading those scripts, knowing that we finally got to find out who Titus really is?

It filled in a lot of holes for me. I was given a lot more information to play off of. It helped inform a great many of my choices and my treatment of Titus. We’re quite different. I get a lot of people who are shocked when they meet me because we share a name and we like musicals, but that’s about it. It helped me figure out what other goodies are in that bag of his to bring out and to create some delicious tension, and things to exploit. When I was reading over material I thought it was so helpful, funny, heartwarming, and touching.

How much do you get to improvise on the show?

Very little. They are not those type of writers. Every I is dotted and every T is crossed. Everything that comes off as improvisation is on purpose. Robert and Tina are very thorough. There’s very little room for improvisation, but there’s not a great need for it because they’ve given us well rounded crafted material.

Another highlight of the season, aside from learning more about Titus, was the geisha episode. What was that episode like to read and shoot?

I’ve come to expect that Robert and Tina are going to put me in the most extreme circumstances. [Laughs] I sat down with them and we were very careful not to offend but wanted to acknowledge how hypersensitive people have come because of the presence of social media. We thought what would be the most extreme situation Titus could find himself in, and that’s acting out a dramatization of one of his past lives that he maintains that he remembers. If he believes it to be true, it’s only plausible that his going into full geisha makeup and attire is not mocking, but a full extension of who he was, and because he believes it so fiercely, I was able to be sincere about it and not be disrespectful to another culture.

Once I processed the information that way, it was very liberating, and I have a great deal of respect for what it takes to put on that attire because it’s many many layers. It took an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes to get into that whole thing. It was lovely. The song was hard to learn, I don’t speak fluent Japanese. It was a challenge and I was happy to do it.

You made a gorgeous geisha if I do say so myself.

That is so funny.

 

Tituss Burgess
(Photo: Netflix)


We all want to know where is this relationship with Mike going?

Ah, I think we’re all going to find out at the same time my dear. I would love to say that Tina and Robert call me up and ask how I’d like to proceed with Season 3, but it’s just not that way. [Laughs] Also, I kind of prefer it if information that comes to me and it stays in a gestation period for too long… I find that I don’t give as fresh performance or authentic performance or reaction. I 100 percent prefer not to know until I show up to shoot it.

One thing that was so great, and kudos to Robert and Tina for all they do, was Ellie getting nominated this year. Did you two celebrate?

Ellie is about to pop out a little Elena. We chatted briefly and giggled. We’re both homebodies and don’t really enjoy going out. Work is so intense, and we spend so many hours. We’re around so many people all day. We relish the quietness. We have a very quiet, intense textual relationship. We don’t set foot outside very often. I thought it was so appropriate. It’s long overdue.

I was so happy for the two of you. I think I squeed a little.

That’s my girl. I love her so fiercesomely, it extends outside of work. I consider her to be like my sister, and my affection for her is not false. It’s so easy to go to work when there’s chemistry. It’s not something you can create. It is created unto itself. She brings out such wonderful things in me. I said this last year, and I mean it this year, I share my nomination with her. There would be nothing to play off of. You wouldn’t get some of the nuances in my performance if it weren’t for what she offers up. So, I’m so happy that she too was recognized.

Would you ever do a spin-off if the opportunity came up? The team at AwardsDaily TV have called it Andromedon.

That is really really funny. I would certainly have a conversation about it. I can’t imagine we could cover. I’m not sure what else Titus would do outside of the world of Unbreakable. I don’t know. Hopefully, I have 3 or 4 seasons of this. Titus is an intense person so by the time that ends, I think Tituss Burgess might have worn out his welcome as Titus Andromedon.

Do you miss him when you’re not playing him?

I do not miss him. I will be honest with you. Imagine my scenes and having a 4 or 5am work call, and the first thing you shoot is something that comes out of my mouth, and him being at a ten all the time. It’s a great deal of work. It is exhausting. I hang him up when the show wraps. I have to go back and watch episodes when it’s time to go back to work because I need a refresher as to how he operates and moves.
Jane said she feels the same way. We do it, you guys get it all at once, and then there’s six months before we touch it again. You’re doing other projects, so you have to jump back into it with a bit of assistance from the character.

I feel you. Sometimes I have, “What do I do again?”

It’s weird right.

It’s been so much fun talking to you. Thank you for the comedy. I look forward to the musical.

You’ll love it. It’s going to be great.

Duffer Brothers

The Duffer Brothers drew on ’80s favorites to create Netflix’s instant cult classic Stranger Things

Talking to Matt and Ross Duffer (the Duffer Brothers as they are known professionally), it’s clear no one expected their Netflix series Stranger Things to be the buzzy hit it is. Lovingly assembled from multiple ’80s pop culture influences, the 8-episode thriller introduces modern audiences to a Goonies-like group of pre-teen boys, one of whom mysteriously disappears into a void called the “Upside Down.” It’s one of those “the least you know, the better off you’ll be” cultural events that the Duffer Brothers hailed from their ’80s-addled psyches.

Even they are stunned at the widespread love streaming audiences showered on it thus far. Nice when that happens, isn’t it?

“To me, my favorite thing is that younger kids are having Stranger Things viewing parties and binge watching it,” said Matt Duffer of the reaction to the series. “Hopefully it leads them to go back and discover some of these movies and books that inspired us so much. I’d love a kid to go ‘Who the hell is John Carpenter?’ and they’re suddenly watching and marathoning his movies.”

But what is it about Stranger Things that inspired millions of jaded 21st century viewers to embrace it whole-heartedly?

Steeped in an ’80s culture

Growing up in Durham, North Carolina, the Duffer Brothers nourished their future careers on an early diet of all the books, television, and cinema they could get their hands on. They recalled trips to Durham’s Carolina Theatre with their father to watch adult-skewing films like Amelie and Memento and how they quickly realized they were the youngest attendees by far. They also engaged in a primitive (by today’s standards) form of binge watching.

“We initially binged the old school way: Netflix through the mail,” said Matt Duffer. “Because of that, we always approached this as one big movie. [Bingeing] really helps me get more emotionally involved in a story to binge it rapidly.”

Duffer Brothers
(Photo: Netflix)

But it’s the ’80s-era films of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg coupled with the works of Stephen King that gave birth to Stranger Things. The series was originally set in Montauk, New York, as a nod to the Duffer Brothers’ favorite film of all time, Jaws. However, they ultimately set the series in Indiana to reference Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Peter Yates’s Breaking Away. The quarry scenes are direct references to the latter film’s Indiana locale.

The ’80s of their childhood pops up in everything from the soundtrack (mostly ’80s tunes like “Africa” and “Hazy Shade of Winter”) to the opening credits, a simple yet definitive homage to nearly every Stephen King book cover ever printed. There’s even an unexpected (but very deliberate) Peter Weir homage to 1985’s Witness in Chapter 2. Anime. Video games. It’s all there in one frame or another.

Ultimately, Stranger Things is the sum total of all of the Duffer Brothers favorite things from the books and movies of the 1980s, packaged in Netflix HD for modern audiences.

“It’s especially gratifying to see that it seems to be working for people who hadn’t grown up in that era,” Matt explained. “The story and characters are still resonating with them.”

As deep as the series’ mythology runs, though, it would not be as successful a series without that brilliant cast.

The kids stay in the picture

As initially written, the central four Stranger Things boys were, by the Duffer Brothers’ own admission, more ’80s archetypes than flesh-and-blood characters. Thanks to their dogged, stubborn casting practices, the Duffer Brothers were able to elevate the material by casting authentic kids. It wasn’t until the actors started breathing life into their roles that the roles became something else entirely.

“Their characters were a little bit more stereotypical,” admitted Ross Duffer. “But these kids really did inform these characters. We knew that bad child performances, even one, would really, really hurt the show. They caused us to go back and rewrite the characters.”

Duffer Brothers
(Photo: Netflix)

Armed with a Netflix-approved single script, the Duffer Brothers and co-director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) embarked on a national casting call to find the perfect child actors. Their search paid off in spades. The kids, particularly lead Finn Wolfhard (as Mike Wheeler), don’t really look like modern child actors. They appear to have just wrapped a day as extras in E.T. As a result, their performances are emotionally honest and resonate appropriately within the era.

And which Stranger Thing kid most resembled their youth?

“I took the Buzzfeed quiz, and it says I’m a Mike,” laughed Matt. “We were making these really bad home movies, so we were really the leaders of our own nerdy group of kids much like Mike.”

They fondly recalled meeting Finn Wolfhard (to be next seen in the remake of Stephen King’s IT) during his audition. Wolfhard expressed his desire to one day be a film director of his own. A self-proclaimed “movie nerd,” he impressed the Duffer Brothers by professing his love for “early Sam Raimi.” The experience hit very close to home.

One of the more pleasant surprises of the Stranger Things phenomenon is the Internet obsession with supporting character Barb (Shannon Purser). The Duffer Brothers received tons of fan fiction and art revolving around the doomed sidekick.

“It thrills us beyond words that Barb is our breakout fan-favorite,” said Shawn Levy. “It was definitely not anticipated, but I think there’s something resonant about this character who is neither the hero nor the picture-perfect character that we’re used to seeing on TV.”

Unfortunately for us, Barb will live on in the hearts and minds of Stranger Things fans everywhere. Just not in the sequel.

Duffer Brothers
(Photo: Netflix)

And what of Season 2?

While technically not yet approved by Netflix, Stranger Things Season 2 is almost assuredly a done deal. The Duffer Brothers are widely on record as wanting to continue their exploration of the “Upside Down” and of Will Byers’ time in it. Season 1 even ends with some jarring and unexpected scenes that punch through the happy ending.

“There are still a lot of unresolved issues in this other dimension. Obviously, we’ve left some dangling threads at the end of the season that we’d like to resolve,” Ross explained. “Unlike a traditional TV show, what we really want to do is create the second season as if it were a sequel, a movie sequel, in that we do have a new tension. It’s still tied into the original events in Season 1, but there’s a new main tension that needs to be resolved as well.”

Whatever the tension for Season 2, here’s hoping the Duffer Brothers are able to successfully avoid the curse of so many ’80s horror films. The sequel is never as good as the original.

gary kordan

Gary Kordan designs Key & Peele‘s visual comic flair and received his first Emmy nomination

Call him “the King of Comedy.” (Well, when it comes to production design.)

gary kordan
(Photo: Comedy Central)
Despite more than two decades of work in TV comedies, production designer Gary Kordan received his first Emmy nomination this year for Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, something that came as a surprise to the industry veteran.

“You never think you’re ever going to be the one to get the nomination,” said Kordan. “You just do the work and assume the other people get nominated. But people started to say to me, ‘This show looks cinematic,’ and I started to wonder if maybe we’d get noticed.”

Gary Kordan was bred for comedy. He started his career working at Catch a Rising Star comedy club, watching the likes of Jon Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, and Joy Behar take the stage. Eventually, he ended up working for The Joan Rivers Show, developing a close relationship with the late comedienne.

“I feel like I understand comedy. It something I gravitate toward and something that gravitates toward me.”

Maybe that’s why things especially gelled for him and the crew of Key & Peele during this final season. In addition to Outstanding Variety Sketch Series and Writing for a Variety Series nominations, the Comedy Central sketch show received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Reality, or Reality-Competition Series. The two nominated episodes, “Ya’ll Ready for This” and “The End,” feature two sketches Kordan is especially proud of: Pirate Chantey (from the episode “Ya’ll Ready for This”) and Negrotown (from the final episode titled “The End”).

For Pirate Chantey, there was little time to prep, but Kordan attributes the success of the sketch to everyone really bringing the best they had to offer to the table, from the hair department and costuming to key assistant location manager. “The process of Pirate Chantey was no different than any other sketch,” said Kordan. “Not a lot of time. Not a lot of budget. But it’s the best example of department heads being so in sync with each other, that we didn’t even need to meet with each other before hand to completely plan everything out.”

gary kordan
(Photo: Comedy Central)
The Pirate Chantey sketch is visually stunning—and hilarious—which is a major feat in comedy, and follows a group of progressive pirates, singing about women they’ve loved (“We say ‘Yo, ho!’ but we don’t say ‘ho,’/’Cause ‘ho’ is disrespectful, yo!).

The other sketch, Negrotown, was just as big of an undertaking as it looked, telling the story of a black man who bumps his head on a cop car and is magically transported to a town where black people can always hail a cab.

“We wanted to create a throwback to musicals with saturated colors and bright costumes. There was an attempt to make it look like a Gene Kelly musical, almost like Gene Kelly in an alternate universe.” There was even great detail given to the sign at the entrance of Negrotown, with its “Welcome to Mayberry” flair mixed with African elements.

Gary Kordan
(Photo: Comedy Central)
Both sketches juxtapose old with the new: archaic pirate songs with feminist undertones, a Gene Kelly parody highlighting racism in America (even though Negrotown aired over a year ago, it could have been written yesterday and still seem timely).

“I’m so proud of these sketches, and they’re highlighted by the writing that won’t ever become dated.”

The nominations are slightly bittersweet, considering they are for Key & Peele’s fifth and final season. Of all the things Kordan will miss, it’s what audiences don’t see on the show, what goes on behind the scenes.

“One of the things that’s rare in the industry is to keep a crew together, and we all stayed together through five seasons and a pilot. We were all crazy, evil geniuses. I trust these people with my career.”

Next, you can catch Gary Kordan’s work in the pilot for the canine comedy Downward Dog, which stars Alison Tolman (Fargo) and was picked up by ABC.

“We filmed an extremely strong pilot,” said Kordan. “It feels like an indie feature. I know people say, ‘It’s a talking dog show,’ but it’s really a single person’s dramedy.” Downward Dog follows the relationship between a woman (Tolman) and her dog, and it was filmed in Pittsburgh. “I had no idea what to expect of Pittsburgh. What I experienced was a thriving arts community. Just really catered to art, music, and coffee. The film and TV crew could rival any other town.”

In the meantime, Gary Kordan is enjoying the moment and all the Emmy accolades for Key & Peele. “Again, you still don’t think you’re ever going to get an Emmy nom, though. It’s an out-of-body experience.” An out-of-body experience that could have production design’s King of Comedy laughing all the way to gold on Emmy night. 

Jill Kargman

Jill Kargman is quite the comedian. She’s just wrapped season two of Bravo’s Odd Mom Out and is about to head off to the UK. Yesterday was deadline day with Emmy voters, and we managed to squeeze in ten minutes before midnight to talk Odd Mom Out and where her apt for comedy came from. London beware – Kargman is always on the lookout for new material…

Where do your comedy skills come from?

It’s pretty innate because my parents are hilarious. My mom is French and has a very witty, dry observational humor. My dad is a total ham. He did stand up during business school at Columbia. He’s a riot. I feel like his business career because aside from having natural business acumen. He used humor as a way to connect with people. He made work fun.

When did you realize you could turn this into a career?

For the last 20 years, I’ve been writing books that are comedies. It was a natural extension. I was an actress first in college. I was never going to pursue it because I thought the odds were crazy. It never occurred to me to go on auditions or try that. I wanted a job, so I went from college right into working with a magazine. The articles turned into TV work, which turned into books .Things seemed to grow organically into one another. The transition on to camera seemed natural as it was my first love.

How different is that for you now? You’ve transitioned from writing to delivering it.

It feels like one thing. People would ask if I was nervous. I wasn’t. I was always on stage in college, in TV it’s so much more challenging and something that feels so artistic. I love what we’re doing with the show. You get chances, if you screw it’s not the end of the world. It’s not nerve-wracking at all.

How do you get the great guest stars that you have?

I feel lucky. With the exception of Drew Barrymore who’s my sister-in-law, everybody was sent the script. I sent it to Drew too. She wasn’t just going to do anything. She really responded to it. With season one we were an unknown entity, and Bravo who are known for their unscripted productions, so people weren’t quite sure what we were going to be. So, it wasn’t an alluring hook for the TV community.

Now, it’s been proven and critically acclaimed, agents started pitching us on guest stars. It was interesting. When we threw the hook for season two, it was easier, and there was way more fish. Once something is a known entity and appreciated, I think everyone wants to be a part of it.

There are plenty of reality show about the rich wives, how did you manage to turn that into humor? Was it a deliberate choice to write it that way?

It started about not having the same affluence or trappings of a wealthy family. It’s so much more than that because in this season I go out of the Upper East Side a lot. I still feel awkward, even when I went to Brooklyn last season. It’s not just about money, it’s about fitting in. Even though mom is in the title, it’s about keeping up. It’s really relatable no matter where you live. The latest thing you have to see whether it’s Hamilton, or a a restaurant you can’t get into.

With social media, everyone you know is posting about something and you feel on the outskirts. It’s just my interpretation of that. A lot of the time, people say to me how much they relate to my character. It’s really about how you feel. It’s about how I felt at 28.

What were some highlights?

Working with Molly Ringwald was such a highlight because she’s such an icon and really represents what I looked up to in my childhood. I was so obsessed with her. It was very surreal for me, and I was pinching myself. All the guest stars I did that with, but her particularly. I feel like I spent the most time with her because when you see someone’s movie’s dozens of times through your life, it’s strange acting with them. We also did lots of fun locations this year too. We have an awesome locations department that managed to get some great places.

What lessons have you learnt from season two and growing as a film-maker?

I feel so much more that we hit our stride because we were given so much freedom. Bravo is an amazing network for us. In season one, I was a 39-year-old, a total unknown. There were checks and balances, and going over everything. Once they knew we had a following and they could see what the show had crystallized into, I got to be me more. It was almost like the balsamic reduction of myself. I felt I had a lot more freedom which made me a lot more creative. One of the writers wrote, let Jill be Jill and that was great. They said, she’s way more kookier, and you see that.

Odd Mom Out airs on Mondays at 10pm ET on Bravo.

Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne’s season three character arc was brief but powerful. ADTV talks to the star about her time in and outside of Litchfield prison.

Natasha Lyonne’s Nicky Nichols was dearly missed for the majority of the third season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Even though she’s in maximum security for 10 of the 13 episodes last year, she returns for the latest (and best) season of the prison drama. It’s great to have her back at Litchfield. It wasn’t the same without her.

In 2014, Natasha Lyonne was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series alongside her Orange co-stars Uzo Aduba and Laverne Cox. Since the recent rule change, the show competes in Drama, and Lyonne has a chance to be nominated for her meatiest role of the third season. In “Empathy is a Boner Killer,” Nicky is betrayed by a corrections officer, and she’s sent to maximum security. The episode also delves into the strained relationship Nicky has with her mother. Lyonne might only be in the first three episodes, but she packs a significant emotional punch. You feel her presence throughout the rest of the season.

After I sufficiently geeked out over talking to the star of the beloved queer comedy But I’m a Cheerleader, I asked Natasha Lyonne about what it felt like to step away from the show, and she described her favorite scene from the new season.

Natasha Lyonne

Natasha Lyonne, when you received the script for the episode “Empathy is a Boner Killer,” was your first reaction, “What the hell?!”

I did talk to Jenji before reading “Empathy is a Boner Killer,” and I knew it was coming of course. But I guess it’s a testament to how great the writing is. Even though I knew it was coming, it didn’t make it any less shocking and heartbreaking.

I definitely missed you the entire rest of the season!

I’m very sorry.

Was there any discussion of showing Nichols at all in max, or did Jenji Kohan want to cut everybody off?

I think that part of it was this brutal cut. So much of the show is the overall impact that it has on all the characters. The brilliance of the show is the way in which one thing affects another—so much like The Wire. That’s personally one of my favorite shows and you sort of see how everything is connected. In a weird way almost like a real time Rashomon, you know, with many people’s points of view. In that sense the main story takes place at Litchfield, so the impact that it ends up having on Kate and Yael (on Lorna and Red) is that much more intense if Nicky is sort of not in their psyche. In a weird way, it’s sort of like negative space. What we don’t see impacts as much as what we do see.

Since I watched the third season very quickly, a lot of people kept saying to me, “She’s coming back right? She’s coming back.” And I kept saying, “I don’t think so…”

[Laughs]

Your flashback scene in the third season (with your mother in the limo and the scene where you crash the cab) features other actors. Is it sort of refreshing to do work a little outside of Litchfield?

Well, I mean, in a sense I’m sure for any of us the person we would send into prison would be a sort of representative. It would be too risky a situation to send in our truest, most vulnerable self. I think the benefit as an actor in getting to play scenes outside the prison is a bit of insight into other sides of Nicky—how she would exist out in the world without the risk of other prisoners judging her strengths. In a weird way, she’s much whinier than we’ve ever seen in prison. It only occurred to me in this moment. It’s not aesthetically palatable.

Everyone’s lamest side is them in the face of their mother. It’s not a charming, sexy side of a person [Laughs]. She’s a brat, short tempered and needy. That coupled with the desperation of drug addiction and the circumstances really make for far less suave presence of when she’s in prison—even when she’s down and out.  There’s a certain bravado she never loses even when she’s her most vulnerable in prison. With her mother on the outside, there’s so much need in a way. Nicky doesn’t know where to look for it.

Natasha Lyonne
Photo courtesy of Netflix.

One of my favorite aspects of your character is that Nicky is so charming and she’s always on. Any time there’s any interaction with her and another character, there’s always that great back and forth. In the scenes with her mother, she’s looking out the window of the car (in episode 3). The relationship is really interesting to watch.

I think Nicky really gets a kick out of people. And I don’t know if she’s “on” as much as she’s engaged. I don’t think she’s trying to impress anyone as much as she’s generally getting a kick out of most situations even if it’s their darkness or realism. It’s something I really identify with. I think that it’s not the case with her mother. It’s the one and primary relationship where she is not charmed at all. It’s heartbreaking. It’s one thing for a person to kind of survive their own circumstances, but it’s another to have to look it in the eye. It breaks down whatever shell you’ve encased yourself in to survive. I think that’s mostly what you see in the scenes with her mother.

In the scene in the lawyer’s office in my mind was about horror and shock about my circumstances my potential sentencing as it was kicking dope in that one scene. At least what it means in the throes of my addiction. Out in the world, Nicky is getting high every five seconds. The idea of a sentence for an addict who is not going to be able to get drugs, I’m not sure what’s worse: the idea of going to jail or not being able to get heroin.

Since you weren’t in a lot of the third season, how did you experience a lot of it? Were you on the set? Did you watch any of the filming?

Well, I don’t watch the show, so I haven’t seen it. I watch the first episode of each season at the premiere, but two of those I haven’t been in. Essentially I’ve only really seen one episode in full which is the very first episode of the show. [Laughs] This last one I wasn’t in, obviously. My experience of the show is in real time—the experience of shooting it. I didn’t visit the set, so I wasn’t there.  A least a bunch of us are really close so there wasn’t a time where I wasn’t connected with the show. But, yeah, what I would know would come from someone texting me—like Lorna—and stuff like that. We would find ourselves engaged, and I would be like, “I don’t know what’s happening!”[Laughs] .

It’s sort of like you’re experiencing exactly how Nicky would experience it.

That’s the thing! That was my goal having never been on a television show before. Watching your own movie, it’s never pleasant, because you’re picking apart your own performance. At least it’s sort of like spilled milk—there’s nothing you can do about it, you know? The idea of watching a show that’s in motion, it feels too risky to me. I’d be too afraid that I wouldn’t be strong enough to not impact my own performance based on the opinions of what I thought. I feel like that’s a little bit of a dangerous dance. Something is going very right with that show with people (it was picked up until at least season 7). I feel very grounded at work and I get to go deeper and deeper as I figure out who she is. I feel like I can take bigger swings. Maybe I’m just reluctant to have the outer body experience. I just want to keep it pure in a way that I only know what Nicky knows.

You wouldn’t want that to affect your character later down the line.

Kind of. I’ll tell you another thing, I don’t know if this was the best choice. It’s something I made early on and I don’t want to be in the position of watching, you know, 70 hours of television in one sitting. I love the show. I’m so obsessed with the writing and the experience and getting to act with them. What I do get to see is a true ensemble. They are such singular characters.

I think I’ve said it every single season that this is probably one of the truest forms of an ensemble that we have on television. It’s not just everyone working together in the big scenes, but everyone works so well individually.

It’s a very generous cast in that way. There’s a real sense wanting each other to succeed and to bring out the best in each other. When you put a bunch of character actors together, something very special happens. You see it on Game of Thrones, too. Character actors kind of learn along the way to do their best and keep it moving. It’s no fault of the movie star, but there are a lot of elements they are juggling that are not strictly about doing the scene. There’s a lot of pressure there and whatever. The experience for us is that we’re very grateful to have such a good job, and we love to play together. It’s a bunch of session musicians instead of rock stars. It’s a different feeling.

What was your favorite scene to shoot in season 4? My personal favorite was the scene between you and Luschek on the phone. I was on the edge of my seat with that one.

Yeah, that was pretty crazy. What I loved about doing that scene with Matt was that Lauren Morelli wrote it, and it was the first time I’d been on set in a while. It was the kind of speech that a woman so infrequently gets. It was like one of those De Niro speeches, a Goodfellas speech. I think that’s always been my dream as an actor to do some of that stuff that should be more unisex, in my opinion.

Nicky is a really incredible character to get to play. Her sexuality, in that context, allows her to not only speak to the human experience but also the female experience. In general, I’d say that’s why I so identify and enjoy so much playing gay characters. I feel like it’s not all about boys. Those women are allowed to just be existing. Like Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. Karen Black is existing in the movie as a response to Nicholson. Playing the straight, female love interest, too often it becomes about the character’s response to the man she’s with. That scene was intense to shoot, so I don’t know if I’d classify it as fun. It was also fun to scare people on the day. [Laughs] It was a good way to take up space again.

I also really loved the crack scene. The situation itself was insane, so it really allowed us to dig out heels in and be completely in character. There was nothing coy about that scene—it was out of control. It was so hot and disgusting, so I never want to relive that scene. There’s something about horrible physical circumstances of just bleeding and sweat and dirt in your fingernails, passing the pipe, and accidentally burning yourself with the lighter. At a certain point, you can’t act anymore. It’s so completely in the moment. Your physical senses are too spent in a way. In the moment it was pretty insane, but afterwards you say, “That was a crazy day!”

Natasha Lyonne and Orange Is the New Black are currently streaming season four on Netflix.

Boyd Holbrook

Narcos‘s Boyd Holbrook talks about his starring role in the hit Netflix series.

Actor Boyd Holbrook (Hatfields & McCoysBehind the Candelabra) is currently on location in Indiana working on his next project. He’s about to play a villain on the next installment of the Marvel franchise Wolverine. More recently, he starred on the hit Netflix show, Narcos. On the show, Holbrook plays a DEA agent who helps track down drug lord, Pablo Escobar (Wagner Moura). With balloting for the Emmys closing at midnight, we managed to squeeze in a last minute conversation about Columbia and how he researched his role as Steve Murphy, a DEA agent hunting Escobar.

Boyd Holbrook, why is there this obsession with Pablo Escobar? I’ve been fascinated with him for the longest time.

The rich are a certain few percenters to have that sort of lifestyle, and life is the best struggle. When people see someone go through the ranks in being superior, it’s a fascinating extension as we know how hard it is.

I think what he did is iconic in crime. It’s very Shakespearian because we see this young, poor man ascend to being a king, and it unravels.

Boyd HolbrookWhat did you know about him before you took on the role?

I was ten when he died. I wasn’t doing that much cocaine when he died. [Laughs] It wasn’t until I started talking to Steven Murphy that I learned about it. I was training to see how to get into this skin. Pedro and I got to train with the cadets. You’re risking your life going into these places saying you’re not really who you really say you are.

We had guns that fired blanks, in one scenario, they pulled a gun at me and shot me. It was a blank.

How petrifying.

It was great. To just do the show in Columbia was great. We could have done it in English with bad accents, or even shot it in Puerto Rico, but all that goes into the genuine show.

That’s one thing I liked about the show, not only did we have the visuals of Columbia, but also the Spanish, on a show like this.

It’s engaging that way. You have to be active to watch the show.

Absolutely, you had to pay attention, it wasn’t one show that you could have on in the background. So, going back to shooting in Columbia, what was that like? It wasn’t something you could have done 20 years ago.

Columbia is gorgeous. I was there for 17 months. Every time I was down there, the altitude is really high. For me, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. I’ve seen things that not many North Americans get to experience. That much of time there changes you.

You touched on it earlier, but you really researched this role.

I was on the phone to Steve every day. Wikipedia was tracking every episode to see how the facts check out. Some were out of timeline, but we were verbatim to history. It was wild.

What was it like working with Steve Murphy, Javier, and Pedro Pascal?

We became buddies. They’re really good cops. To do that work, it’s about friendship and getting to know a person. We had a good dynamic set up in the narrative. We all spoke and talked and listen to experiences, and hung out a lot.

What other experiences did you have that you enjoyed?

To go to work every day as an actor is rare. To do that for 17 months, figuring out the scenes and innovating things was really rewarding.

What about some challenges?

The location, and navigating around the country. The film infrastructure is nowhere near as what it is in the North.

What’s the appeal of living out of the East Coast?

I have ten acres where my dog can just run around. I dug a pond. I get to landscape!

Boyd Holbrook and Narcos are currently streaming on Netflix.

Jon Bernthal

By day he’s Frank Castle. By night he’s The Punisher, a man on a mission. He’s a vigilante who sets the bad guys straight. He’s also a major component of Netflix’s critically acclaimed Marvel property Daredevil. Actor Jon Bernthal makes his Daredevil debut in the second season of the streaming series. His anti-hero story is as compelling as anything we’ve seen thus far in the brutal series.

I caught up with actor Jon Bernthal to talk about playing the crime fighting hero. We also talk about an important moment in season two where his alter-ego gives us a peek into his vigilante soul.

Can it be that The Punisher really isn’t that bad after all?

Were you always a fan of Daredevil growing up?

To be honest, I really wasn’t. My first real exposure to the comic books and the comic book world was through The Walking Dead. It was also an exposure to the comic book fans and their enthusiasm and how much it means to them. I had no idea how committed that fan base is. There’s something with comic books, and the medium requires so much imagination on the part of both the reader and audience. It ignites the imagination and gives the audience this sense of ownership of the characters and of these worlds. I think that’s a reason for the passion. I experienced it firsthand with The Walking Dead. With this character, Frank Castle, I really dived into the comic book. I got a lot from the books and the research process was fun.

What was it about this particular guy that made you say, this is who I want to play?

I wasn’t desperately trying to get into the comic book world. [laughs] For me, it’s about the human being. He has no superpower. His superpower is his humanity. It’s his drive, his rage, and his loss. I could never have played this part if I weren’t a husband or father. Until you really understand what it’s like to love somebody more than yourself and to willingly give your life for them, only then can you understand what it would mean if they were taken from you.

I really dig this Netflix model of 13 episodes. All at once delivery system of material because it allows for real freedom in the way that you tell a story. You can be bold and take risks or abandon the audience and go very far. The way most of this material is digested all at once. They don’t have to wait 3 or 4 months to win the audience back to explain their actions. I really dig it.

As a character study and acting, you can’t ask for anything more.

You really have to hand it to Netflix for giving us this binge-watching culture. It’s like a choose your own adventure. You decide where to go next be it one episode, two, or the entire season.

With the TV model, whether cable or network, you sort of have to operate in these gray areas where if your character is going down a road where you could lose the audience, you have to keep it gray and play it both ways. A character like Frank Castle, he goes all the way, and later on humanity sets in. The regret, humiliation and shame pour in later with him.I love that you don’t have to tell all these different stories and let that affect you in a natural way. There’s no question that the Netflix model is a real ally in that.

Jon Bernthal
Photo courtesy of Netflix.

I love your take on Frank Castle and The Punisher. You nail the dark, gritty edge to him. But what’s it like with those battle scenes? Again, you nail those scenes.

I think when you’re talking about characters like these, the way they fight, what’s motivating the fight is very important. Beating someone up to drag them into jail is different than someone who is exercising his rage on people. The Frank Castle you find in this story is not The Punisher. He’s reeling from the loss of his family. He’s driven by rage and is on a singular mission to find these people who took his family from him, and do it as brutally as possible.

This team that’s been assembled, they’re unbelievably ambitious. The fighting in this show everybody working together. I also believe the way in which he fights tells you volumes about the character. There’s a story with each and every punch, and they allow us to approach it like that. These guys are good enough to choreograph in that way.

Which scenes stand out for you from this season?

A big part of this guy is a guy searching for himself. He’s got pain, regret and remorse. There’s the graveyard scene where he opens up. He delivers this scene where he explains what it’s like to come home and see his daughter. It was such a gift from John C. Kelley. I had been away from my kids for three months, and I was at the crux of my own torture, going through that.

I really tried to drive into what this guy was going through. Not only was it beautifully written. What it allowed was a man who doesn’t open up much, doesn’t share, who has been alone, and this circumstance found him where he didn’t think he’d be able to get up from that gravestone. He has this opportunity to open up. Those moments and that speech gave me the ammunition to go as far as I wanted the other way. You could be as brutal as possible, as depraved, as tortured as possible because at that moment, the audience got to see what was going on in that man’s heart, and he’s unbelievably human. He’s in an unbelievably amount of pain. That speech was the anchor of the season for me.

We’re getting to see who he is

It’s very rare for characters like this and these broken people on a mission is a necessary part of being a soldier and being a man on a mission. To say things like shame, regret, and humanity. I’m not letting those things penetrate me because I’m just about this mission. What was great about that was that it reminds us that it’s impossible to build a wall around your heart. It also tells us that all humans are reachable, and some light penetrates that wall, and feelings are underneath there. What an opportunity for a guy like this to share that and open up about it.

What lies ahead for Frank and The Punisher?

[laughs] I have no idea. We are going to do a show with him next year. I’m really excited about that. We’ll have to see.

Does anything surprise you about the Frank character at all?

I think the relationship with Karen surprised me the most. It was a rare thing that can happen when you have a real collaboration between writers and actors. These writers and producers watch the dailies, they see things that were happening. You might not be able to put words to it, and they develop that. In the same way that there’s this connection between Frank and Karen and we never explain exactly what it is. I felt what it became was that I thought he looked at her as, this is the kind of woman his daughter could have become, bold and intelligent, and courageous, independent, bold and caring. I think he saw his daughter in her. I think as a man that swore off caring about anything besides his mission and completing it, I think he started to care about her, her well-being, and her opinion.

Jon Bernthal and Marvel’s Daredevil is now streaming on Netflix.

Jon Bernthal
Photo courtesy of Netflix.

chris geere actor

Megan McLachlan talks to You’re the Worst‘s Chris Geere about the brilliantly challenging FXX comedy

It used to be that TV comedies and sitcoms reserved drama for one “very special episode,” after which, everything returned to normal. But FXX’s You’re the Worst threw that concept out the window. In season two, the raunchy romantic comedy revealed Gretchen’s (Aya Cash) depression over the course of many episodes and how it affected everyone around her, including boyfriend Jimmy (Chris Geere).

It’s rare for any series, comedy or otherwise, to address this topic, especially without tying a bow around it at the end of the episode and calling it a day. But You’re the Worst tackled the delicate subject with class, realism, and most impressive of all, laughter. Emmy voters, are you listening?

I chatted with Chris Geere about season two, why it was one of the most challenging moments of his career, and what’s in store for season three, which returns to FXX August 31.

Season two of You’re the Worst on FXX was especially well-received with its depression storyline. Were you a little surprised when you discovered the show was going to go in that direction?

Yeah, I think it was a surprise to combine the word “comedy” with the word “depression.” Actually the bottom line has always been we trust Stephen [Falk] so implicitly that there was never any doubt that it wouldn’t be as accurate and lifelike and funny as it turned out to be. I was so impressed with him and with FX for having the faith in us to do it and to challenge something so serious like that. And I was also just really proud of everyone in the cast. It was great that Stephen gave us all an opportunity to show a real range of acting as well. At the beginning of each episode, it was slapstick-y and funny, and then by the end of it, the audience is crying with us. You don’t get that in many comedies.

You really don’t. And I think you had such a tricky role last season because the focus was on Gretchen with her depression, but you had to be more reactionary as a character that didn’t understand what was going on. How did you approach that as an actor?

chris geere actorThat’s so lovely of you to recognize that! Because it was without a doubt the hardest season of TV I’ve ever done. I had to really fight my natural instincts. Jimmy’s doing what a typical man would do, and what I would do as well. He tries to fix the situation. Then he can’t fix the situation, so he automatically goes to the next go-to situation, which is to run away… into the arms of someone else. I had to constantly look at why he was behaving this way. He’s not a bad guy. All this stuff comes from insecurity and a lack of knowing how to handle these social situations.

I think the script, the way that it played out, allowed me to understand what was going on, then really not understand what’s going on, and then be a bit mean. There was a whole range, and I just had to go with it. It was incredibly hard because Aya [Cash] and I, when we’re on set, she’s just excellent. She gives me so much in terms of reacting. But the hardest thing was [when it came to the depression storyline] that I didn’t have any reaction from her at all, because she was so in the zone. She’d be staring at walls or be under a blanket. Or she’d be crying. She’d be texting on her phone in the scene. And I’ve got these two-page monologues going on, and I feel like I’m just doing a scene on my own, because she’s got her own storyline going on. That was really tricky. I think the great thing about Season 3 (which started filming June 20) is that it’s more “Jimmy and Gretchen Versus the World” rather than “Jimmy Versus Gretchen.”

Do you know anything about season three? Can you give us a sneak peek? 

Stephen only gives us four episodes at a time, so I only know what happens in the first four. It’s brilliant. It’s gone in a direction that I never thought it would go in. It focuses a lot on the four of us and the relationships developing. We’re evolving in work and in our relationships, and all the problems that come with that are just so funny. I’ve got this speech in episode one, and I’m trying to learn it at the moment. It’s another classic Jimmy rant. There are about 10 words in it that I have to look up because I’ve never heard of them before. I’m a fairly intelligent guy. I have no idea what these words mean! But this monologue, I literally can’t learn it without laughing out loud. It’s so funny.

chris geere actor
Photo by Alice Lubbock / Interview Magazine.

What I think is interesting about Gretchen’s depression is that Jimmy is a bit depressed himself, especially with his writing and his career. Do you think Jimmy failing to see Gretchen’s depression reflects a bit of him avoiding something within himself?

Absolutely. Aya said before in an interview, which is very true, is that these people can’t do the amount of drugs and the amount of drinking and behave the way that they do without there being some severe demons in there. I think season three is going to explore why Jimmy behaves the way that he does. To be honest, I think unfortunately, in this day and age, there’s a depressive quality to every human being. With characters like Jimmy, he’d never admit to that. He needs Gretchen to be able to show those darker sides of himself. I think there’s an awful lot going on with his relationship with his family. The betrayal they’ve shown to him over the years has made him into the nightmare that he is now. I think the relationship between Jimmy and Gretchen will be much stronger this year because they’ve said those magic words at the end of season two [they said “I love you” in the last episode].

Were you at all nervous that maybe Gretchen and Jimmy were going to break up? I know I was whenever Nina was introduced. 

Bottom line is I knew they’d get back together, because we were already talking about Season 3. Ending the season with them apart would be a bit unfair. They had to earn the fact that they get back together. What I was worried about, which later I realized was actually a good thing, was that the audience was going to suddenly hate Jimmy because of what he was doing. Obviously, cheating on her with Nina was a terrible move, but I had to play that as if he didn’t know how to behave. So he did only what he knows best, which is to run away. I’m glad they got back together at the end.

Where do you see Gretchen and Jimmy going? Do you think they’ll stay together?

Yeah, I think they’ll be together forever. But they always have an out. They can always bail at any time. “I’m gonna leave you anyway.” [Like the theme song says.] “We’re going to end up breaking up, so we may as well enjoy being together.” That’s what they’re doing. They’re falling deeper and deeper in love all the time.

Do you think that the show speaks to the Millennial generation? I personally think it’s one of the most perfect examples of this generation on TV. 

Yeah, why aren’t more people watching then? [Laughs] It’s so annoying. It’s not that we want to become the biggest comedy of all time. I think it’s really relatable. It’s just been shown in England, and some of my mates back home finally got a chance to watch it, and they said, “This is exactly what British TV needs.” Honestly, I’ve never met anyone who’s said, “Yeah, I’ve watched it. It was rubbish.” They either love it or haven’t seen it. That’s a pretty good average. I think it relates to everyone. It’s a really tricky time at the moment to find love in this world. There are too many options; social media has an impact on that. It’s very hard to find love, and I think this show is a good demonstration of how hard it is.

Catch up with Chris Geere on You’re the Worst on Hulu before the new season starts on August 31 on FXX. 

Olivia Colman

It was not by any means an obvious distinction to make, but, as I was connected to Olivia Colman on the telephone, the first thing I noticed was that her voice sounded exactly as it does in the films and TV in which I have admirably watched her. We can sound different on the telephone like we can look different in the mirror or in photographs. Olivia has a chirpy, honest way about her. She seemed as pleased to speak to me (someone she has not previously met) as much as I was to converse with her.

Before I could interrogate Olivia Colman about her flourishing career, including the recent AMC limited series The Night Manager, she was politely inquisitive about whether I did these interviews for a living and whether or not I was in America or the UK. There was definitely a pleased pang in her voice when she first realized I was a fellow Brit.

At least, that what I think…

What are you favorite films and TV shows from the last twelve months? Anything you loved or are hooked on? 

Recently? Filming again now, Broadchurch. The last few weeks have been… we call them lates. We start at two in the afternoon and finish two in the morning. My tele-watching has gone down the shitter. But about to go back into normal hours. I’d quite like to watch Billions. It’s on Sky, but we don’t have that channel at home. But away where I am staying in Bristol we’ve got a Sky box, so quite exited about that. And I saw Deadpool last night with my husband.

Yeah, funny. 

Which is very funny. And really shockingly violent. I didn’t imagine them to be chatting and cracking jokes while beheading people. [Both Laugh] I really enjoyed that. Mainly it has been This Morning, that’s the only time I am awake. [Both Laugh]

So, what triggered that ambition to be an actress, and how old were you? What was it were you thought “Oh, that’s it, that’s what I want to do?” 

I was sixteen, and it was the first time I had ever done a play at school. After the first night we did Jean Brodie. I was Jean Brodie. The first night with everyone clapping, I had a proper light bulb moment – I was like “Oh you are kidding. If I can get money for doing this, that would be amazing.” It was something I could do, and I loved it. For a long time I was no sure I could be an actor because I didn’t know anyone that was, and my parents weren’t. I didn’t know you could get into it if you didn’t have that sort of background. It took a long time to finally pluck up the courage to say out loud: “I want to be an actor.”

Was there a Plan B? 

I just thought I might be a nurse. My mum was a nurse, and I would have loved it – but wouldn’t have loved it as I do my job at the moment. So it would have been nursing if I hadn’t discovered acting, I would have gone down that route.

Before we get onto the TV, and a little bit of film stuff, I know you have done quite a bit of charity work – awareness on Alzheimer’s, women in Afghanistan, depression, violence, domestic violence. Do these transcend into your acting work, or inspire it? Does it become useful for any particular roles? 

Some of those are just you get asked to go to them. So it might look like I have done lots of stuff, but I may have only done one thing for a particular charity. It is the domestic violence that became an obsession of mine after filming Tyrannosaur. Now working with a charity called Tender, who like to solve things before things get out of hand, teaching children about equality and kind relationships – which I think every child should have access to these workshops. So that’s part of my mission, I think actors get asked to do things as it is the nature of our society. Sadly people don’t really listen if an expert say something, but they do if someone they have seen on the tele say something. I know an awful lot less than anybody else, but if people are wiling to listen then I am very happy to do it. I don’t know if it does tie in with my work, sometimes it does, for example the research I did for Tyrannosaur. I think anybody has particular causes they feel passionate about, they want to help, and actors just get to say it out loud more often.

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

Onto TV then, everyone ought to know you from Peep Show, especially if you are in the UK. I remember you in another great TV comedy, and I think I prefer it, Green Wing

Do you?

Yeah. It kind of stuck with me more. It’s quite a bonkers show. Does that kind of comedy reflect any facets off your own personality? 

[Laughs] Well, I think, and this sounds really wanky, but I think anything you play there are bits of you in it. You know, all of us have the serious us and the funny us, us at home. There s always many faces to everybody so I suppose when I am dicking around that’s me. I just hope I am a little bit more organized than Harriet Schulenburg [her character from Green Wing]. [Both Laugh] I’m marginally there I think.

Yeah. But even in Broadchurch, that character is quite funny sometimes even though the show is very, very serious. So I wondered if that was a bit of you. 

Well, that’s all scripted, but the writer has got to know us, he says once he gets to know us a little bit he is still writing as the series is being filmed. So maybe that would be nice, with some of the funny bits. It’s all written by Chris [Chibnall], I can’t take any credit for that.

You have a few big films on your CV too. Quite diverse choices, like Tyrannosaur we mentioned. You did The Lobster as well. Which was bonkers. 

Yeah, bonkers that one. I feel very lucky, so grateful to be working. So many much better actors are not working, so always grateful and appreciative. The best thing is I find I am now allowed to do a mixture of things, for a long time you get stuck a pigeon hole – “Oh she is funny, so cant imagine her doing anything else.” [That’s] frustrating for an actor. The whole point is you are meant to be doing all different things, although time and time again women I can think of off hand. They have done comedy sometimes, and then everyone’s surprized when they do drama. I am very grateful I am allowed to do both.

Are these the kind of acting challenges you look for? Even in Locke, the Tom Hardy film, you were the voice [of the woman giving birth]. Are you looking for that kind of thing?

Yeah, in an ideal world you know I would love to play a baddy in my next job and it would just appear, but it doesn’t work like that. I do enjoy the stuff that comes through that is a bit different. I am much more excited by it. I suppose as I want to do different things, often when something comes out you may get a run of scripts sent to you that are in a similar vein, that are perhaps not as interesting. And I don’t want to sound very spoiled, but I suppose in the last few years I have had a bit more of a choice. That’s what I would like to do if possible to pick something different each time.

Yeah, that’s good. So I will touch on more TV now. And Broadchurch. Which I thought was excellent. Particularly the first season. 

Yes, the first season was my favorite as well.

I mean, there is loads and loads of drama now, in England, so for something to stand out – and for me that stood out. 

Isn’t that great, that there is so much drama on. I think all the channels have just gone “Oh there’s a great market for it.” They are giving us what we want, which is great. Very lucky.

Not enough time to watch them all. We want more drama, and now we have it I am whinging as I don’t have time to watch it all [Both Laugh] 

Exactly.

So congratulations on the BAFTA, well deserved, absolutely well deserved.

Thank you very much.

You were great right the way through it, but at the end when you find out “who,” that scene was like watching real life, honestly. I’m sure I am not the first to say that. 

Aw, thank you so much. I was very lucky. It was a brilliant part, beautifully written. And there is something about that process too, being done chronologically, as we don’t have all the scripts when we start. So it’s much easier to do your job well when, doing it as you go, feels more real.

[Broadchurch is] one of my favorite shows of the last five years. I wrote about it on AwardsDaily TV, it was a pleasure. 

Aw thank you very much. I will tell Chris. He will love that.

Yeah, usually when there is a twist in a show, it’s for the audience and to see it is a shock. But we have Hardy [David Tenant] find out, and then we have to wait for you to find out, so the twist has gone, and then it is your reaction that sort of steals the twist – tramples all over it. I had no idea.  

They were so clever to do that. The twist came in episode seven didn’t it, which I thought was brave as I always assumed the twist would come right at the very end. It was clever as you could look at so many other aspects of the fall out from it.

Yeah, great, great show. 

Aw great, thank you.

I had to mention Broadchurch, was trying to get my wife to watch it, but she doesn’t like to watch shows about children going missing and things like that. 

I don’t blame her I do understand. The first episode was just the worst thing, if you are a parent, or if you are not a parent, it is hard to get around.

Yeah, wondering where they are. 

Yeah,  worst nightmare.

Photo Credit: Des Willie/AMC
Photo Credit: Des Willie/AMC

So I have watched The Night Manager. And you were excellent in that as well. 

Thank you very much, but you have to say that as you are on the phone to me.

[Laughs] No, no, honestly, you were really, really good. I mean, it’s a great cast, and the director [Susanne Bier] is amazing. So how did you get that role? Where you looking for another drama? Did it land on your lap? 

No, that was not through me looking. It was a script that came through, and I heard it had Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie already attached to it so I was “Oh wow, how exciting.” So I read it, think I was sent the first episode, by which time I think they had just decided they would make [Angela] Burr a woman. So a lot of what I read was Burr as a man, but I could completely see why they could make him a her. And I loved it and was really impressed with the decision. I mean the book was written twenty years ago. It was quite right to update it. That was a great way to give it an update. So I went to meet the director Susanne Bier, who I loved. She is really dry and bright and so wise. She looks at you and you crumble ever so slightly. She has those piercing eyes and wants to see what’s going on inside your head. She’s great. I had to break the news to them on the meeting that I had just found out I was pregnant, and I had this spiel ready because, you know, Frances McDormand in Fargo… It would not have been the same if she hadn’t been pregnant. Susanne said [impersonating Bier perfectly] “Yeah, okay, I’ll talk to them. Leave it with me. I will see what they say.”

That’s a really good impression. [Both laugh] 

To their credit they all went “Yeah, cool, we can do that” because you know spies are people too. They get pregnant. I think I can relate much more closely what a modern spy is than what we have got used to seeing, like glamorous, cocktail-drinking, jet-setting, which is a bit obvious. A good-hearted, normal person seems to be a proper reflection of a modern spy I think.

Yeah, not just because Burr is a woman, and pregnant, she was not vulnerable in any way, quite panicky about what Jonathan [Hiddleston] was doing. I don’t know how accurate that was. I have never been a spy. 

Me either.

But it seemed an honest portrayal. 

It’s right. People go into that to look after fellow people, so male or female. It is a better view of modern spies.

And what a cast that is. 

What a honor it was to work them. Great.

Did you read John Le Carre’s book? 

I didn’t, no. There’s obviously quite a lot that’s changed, and for me I just wanted to be loyal to what I was given in the script. Otherwise I would be like “Oh, I wish I could do that bit, I like that bit.” It was much easier to work with what I was given. I should go back to the book now it is done. Haven’t yet, but I will do that.

It was a clever thing to do, changing the character from a man, as it was written such a long time ago. And I didn’t know that until I spoke to the director last week, and I don’t think you would know that watching it would you. 

No, I think it completely fits, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it makes sense that the character is like that. 

Yes. And almost nothing was changed about what was said. We are living in a world where we are still fighting for certain equality, even in our country, men and women say the same things, so it was only right.

Do you pay much attention to awards buzz? Not sure about the Emmys and The Night Manager. But it should be there. 

There have been years were I have been nominated and never got it, but to be encouraged by your peers is the greatest accolade. I feel blessed and lucky, if it happens then lovely. And it’s great, but there’s no point getting excited about it. Sometimes it does not happen. I say that but when I got my first BAFTA I was always saying “It doesn’t matter.” Then it happens and I was like “It really fucking matters!” A great day. [Both Laugh]

So you are doing Broadchurch, is there anything else I can get excited about that you are going to be in? If you are allowed to tell me. 

Oh, well it is a long way off, but Yorgos Lanthimos, who did The Lobster, is doing a film called The Favorite next summer. A film about Queen Anne’s court, and I am Queen Anne. He has cast me before we get there, but so far I am very excited about that.

Oh yeah, great director. 

You’ll like that one.

I will do, yeah. My wife is Greek. 

Oh is she!??

The Lobster was her favorite film of last year. 

So did she see Dogtooth then?

Yeah, we saw that, we liked it. 

That’s another bonkers one isn’t it.

Yeah. There is no film like that. 

The images in it can only be from that film. He is so original.

He is. Well, you and him working together again is definitely something to look forward to. Thanks for talking to me. I have really enjoyed your work over the past years, it has been terrific. 

Thank you very much, that is so lovely.

Just keep it up is all I ask. 

I will try, if they’ll have me. [Both Laugh]

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