James Nesbitt, who plays BABYLON’s Commissioner Richard Miller, talks about what kind of cop he’d be in real life, working with Danny Boyle again and his future as an actor.
Sundance darling and BABYLON star Brit Marling (The East, Another Earth) talks about technology and the public’s involvement in law enforcement, working with the series’ acclaimed executive producer Danny Boyle, and her passion for London’s pub culture.
Q: How did you become involved in Babylon?
A: I read the script and was really moved by the character of Liz – she’s tough but not without vulnerability. Danny and I spoke on the phone and I loved how he saw the story developing, and the questions he wanted to ask about how technology and the transparency it creates is changing all of our lives. How does law enforcement change when a criminal is using Twitter or Instagram? What’s the future of the public’s involvement in law enforcement as a result? And how do you create a career girl that isn’t a typical ball-buster but is multi-faceted? All awesome things to explore. So I got on a plane and 24 hours later we were doing a table reading that was so funny people were choking on their beverages with laughter. Sam and Jesse are such great writers it’s borderline dangerous.
Q: You mention liking the way she’s a nuanced and layered character – was it a surprise to you that two forty-something British male comedy writers were able to create a female character like that?
A: The truth is, I find it surprising when either of the genders…
Writing duo Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, two of TV’s most original voices, discuss developing their unique approach to a police comedy-drama, working with series producer Danny Boyle and Jesse’s involvement with the writing of Veep.
Q: What originally inspired the show’s focus on the police force’s PR department?
Sam Bain: We wanted to take a fresh angle on UK police that hadn’t been seen before and we felt that PR and media relations were an aspect of police work that’s hugely significant and ripe for drama and comedy but relatively unexplored. The challenges facing a huge, established organization in the modern media age felt like an exciting theme for us.
Q: What’s Danny Boyle like as a producer?
Sam Bain: He’s great, he was involved a lot more than we dared hope…
RECTIFY creator Ray McKinnon discusses fascinating characters, the South and the silver lining of life on death row.
Q: A lot of characters persecute Daniel, but the show always seems to give us a chance to see things their way. What’s the key to finding that balance?
A: I certainly think a lot of characters have made judgments and have prejudices and preconceptions about Daniel… persecution’s a little too strong of a word. But the other words that I used feel appropriate to the characters, when I think of Teddy, or even Bobby Dean in a way. And I don’t know about balance, but as far as seeing things their way, I think if you’re trying to create three dimensional characters, each character like human beings have a subjective viewpoint of the world, and that’s what we tried to understand better. Teddy’s a great example of that, trying to understand what motivates Teddy, how he sees the world. He sees the world differently than Daniel. I think Teddy believes in law and order, or he did certainly in the first season. I think that has changed over time. But if they say Daniel did it and Daniel went to a jury and the jury found that he was guilty then that’s what Teddy believes is the truth, and so Teddy goes about his life verifying things he already believes in, affirming that, and when those things get challenged it’s very difficult for Teddy to deal with that. So I think the balance maybe you’re talking about is trying to make the characters not two-dimensional but three dimensional, where they have a point of view and oftentimes–even with Teddy–that point of view could be valid. Because Daniel could have killed Hannah Dean. We don’t know that answer yet.
Q: Do you sympathize with all the characters that much, or are there exceptions? Senator Foulkes… or Trey?
A: I don’t know if I sympathize with Trey, but …
Think you know what it takes to be a writer in the entertainment biz? We’ve been stockpiling interviews ranging from comedy influencers to comic book adapters to the writers of the twisted plots of our own SundanceTV dramas. Browse our collection below, and take notes!
Horror movies and TV shows have a long, dark, and symbiotic relationship with underground rock music. Scottish instrumental rockers Mogwai, in particular, have an eerie and cinematic sound perfect for frightful viewing, as is the case with their hauntingly gorgeous score for the hit French horror show “Les Revenants” (THE RETURNED). Here, Mogwai guitarist Stuart Braithwaite reveals his favorite horror movie soundtracks and how he’d survive the zombie apocalypse.
THE HONORABLE WOMAN’s costume designer Edward K. Gordon talks about the challenges in dressing a character as complex as Nessa Stein, which designers she wore and the secret to “getting the Stein style.”
Q: Some of your past credits include Skins and Secret Diary of a Call Girl – projects that have very different feel from THE HONORABLE WOMAN. What have been some of the best practices you’ve carried over from project to project? What are some of your initial steps when embarking on a new project?
A: For me, the work always starts with the script. If I am lucky enough to be presented with a great script, with characters that I believe/relate to my job, it is easy and all I have to do is honor the writing. Although I have done a varied body of work through my career, I bring the same aesthetic dogma with me to all my work. My ambition is always to present characters on screen in a way that might not be quite what people were expecting. I really believe in the power of clothes to help tell a story, and I am fortunate to work in a visual medium. With each great new character I try to create a look that is distinctive and unique to that person—although grounded in reality and truth there is always a slightly aspirational look to the way I dress people. Just to mix things up even more, the next job I’m doing is War and Peace for the BBC and Harvey Weinstein!
Q: Looking to the pilot episode, that initial green-cheetah print dress is definitely a statement piece—especially when you consider the juxtaposition Nessa’s character has against the rest of the cast. What motivated that style choice? The dress also seemed to linger though the episode, as Nessa simply didn’t change her clothes—can you speak to that?
THE HONORABLE WOMAN star Katherine Parkinson (Rachel Stein) reflects on maternal archetypes, the poignancy of the political thriller and the unexpected levity director Hugo Blick brings to the series.
THE HONORABLE WOMAN star Stephen Rea reflects on the humanity and poignancy of the political thriller and what it was like working with Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Screenwriter Cliff Dorfman (Warrior, Entourage) returns in the premiere for season two of DREAM SCHOOL as the NYC students’ English teacher. Dorfman talked to us about what made him come back, his own bad school behavior, and which celebrity he’d want as his own mentor.
THE HONORABLE WOMAN star Maggie Gyllenhaal talks the challenges of playing powerful, deeply flawed Nessa Stein and how she’s perfected the English accent.
Bestselling author of The Official Preppy Handbook Lisa Birnbach discusses her disdain for Pinterest wedding extravagance, her respect for brilliant
Author and journalist Hannah Seligson talks about Facebook narcissism, The Real Housewives of New York City’s downhill spiral, and Kim Kardashian’s branding genius. Don’t miss Seligson as a featured panelist in THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “#WorstPeopleEver”.
Deputy editor of xoJane Mandy Stadtmiller admits her Breaking Bad secret, her love for old Steve Martin jokes, and talks about Lana Del Rey’s lowbrow brilliance. Don’t miss Stadtmiller as a featured panelist in THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “#WorstPeopleEver”.
CollegeHumor writer and comedian Streeter Seidell talks how Tinder makes everyone a dirtbag, the worst scene in “Friday Night Lights” and the president’s edited opinions. Don’t miss Seidell as a featured panelist in THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “Who Died and Made You Cool?”.
Comedian and Broad City writer Naomi Ekperigen shames Reddit, praises Rihanna and wants to know what Michelle Obama is really thinking. Don’t miss Ekperigen as a featured panelist in THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “Who Died and Made You Cool?”.
Daniel’s freedom echoes throughout Paulie creating schisms in both the community and his family. What’s it like to have a son, brother or suspected killer released from death row? How does that affect a family—and an entire town? And, as an actor, how does one prepare for such intense, unconventional role? Aden Young, Adelaide Clemens, Johnny Ray Gill, J. Smith-Cameron, Bruce McKinnon, Jake Austin Walker, Sean Bridgers and Michael O’Neil discuss the research they did (or didn’t do) and how they view their characters.
Production designer Hugh “D.G.” Moody talks prison sets, contributing to character backstories and hiding Easter eggs.
Q: Is there any overarching design philosophy on RECTIFY that you keep in mind at all times?
A: Primarily the muted color palette and realistic locations. The show’s hyperrealistic, so sometimes we find locations and they’re just perfect. Most of the time, they’re not quite right. Sometimes you don’t know what exactly’s not right about it, but after you spend some time in the space you can usually identify it and identify how to change it to fit the world we’re trying to create.
Q: You’re responsible for every last detail of people’s living spaces. How do you figure out each character’s taste?
As a featured panelist on THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “America’s Hall Monitors”, transsexual porn star Bailey Jay talked to us about the staleness of “tranny hooker” jokes, her love for Amy Schumer’s lowbrow humor, and the lack skinny vegans in her life.
Hugo Blick–creator of political thriller THE HONORABLE WOMAN–discusses the dream-casting that is Maggie Gyllenhaal and the emotionally charged, real-life conflict he chose as the series backdrop.
THE APPROVAL MATRIX: “Fame Monster” airs Mon., Aug. 18 11/10c, and featured panelist, radio host Frank DeCaro gives us his opinions on Lowbrow-Despicable tweets, Bill Clinton’s ruse and how he’d like to see Julie Taymor.
THE APPROVAL MATRIX panelist, and TV Guide critic Matt Roush discusses over-sharing, Mad Men’s half-finale and his curiosity for Brad Pitt’s stories.
THE APPROVAL MATRIX premieres tonight, and featured panelist, comedian and actress Whitney Cummings gives us her short and sweet decisions on social media, re-framing Lowbrow, and uncensored celebrity.
New York City-based author, podcaster, and comedy writer-performer Julie Klausner gives her advice to Millennials, admits her fear of James Franco’s genius, and knows exactly who she’d like to see uncensored.
Q: What social media platform encourages the most despicable lowbrow behavior and why?
A: Snapchat. Unless the kids have a new way of showing each other their private parts and I have yet to know about it. Put it away, Millennials!
Q: Which highbrow TV show had the most despicable jump-the-shark moment? What was it?
A: Oh, when Freddy, the “magical black man” character on House of Cards, got an offer for his rib shack to become a chain restaurant. That was the minute I gave up on House of Cards season two. Soon, they abandoned the Zoe death storyline, the deep web was forgotten except for that one guy’s guinea pig, and all that talk about a threeway was really just good old-fashioned gay sex that was commenced once Robin Wright gave her blessing.
This is a tie with Homeland’s entire third season, with all the Brody torture and that time Carrie dipped out of a yoga class as a cover to act on behalf of Brody’s awful daughter. And then she gets caught at the end, and Javadi is like “You’re in good shape. Must be all that yoga.” MUST BE ALL THAT YOGA is not a thing a terrorist says!!!!!
Q: Who is the most brilliant at reframing lowbrow behavior so it seems acceptable?
SundanceTV’s new series, inspired by New York magazine’s pop culture roundup, is premiering Mon., Aug. 11 at 11/10c. To prep, we spoke to showrunner Rory Albanese (The Daily Show) about “showbiz,” working with host Neal Brennan and how it feels to win an Emmy.
Q: How does THE APPROVAL MATRIX show expand on the original New York magazine back-page grid?
A: Mainly because the original version is in a magazine and this one is on the TV. Also, this version is hosted by the hysterically funny and super duper brilliant Neal Brennan, and I don’t use the term “super duper” lightly.
Q: What are you most excited about on the show?
A: I’m most excited about the field pieces that I was a correspondent in. Because this will without a doubt be my one-way ticket to super duper fame and a lifestyle equivalent to that of Leonardo DiCaprio. In fact after these shows air, I’m guessing Leo and I will become best friends and spend all of our free time on yachts covered in models. Thank you, SundanceTV, for turning my life into one of riches and b*tches. (Apparently I use the term “super duper” more than I realized).
Q: How did you meet host Neal Brennan? What makes you a good team?