MINNIE DRIVER and EDDIE IZZARD both star in FX’s original TV show, THE RICHES, as Dahlia and Wayne Malloy. In the show, they try to steal the American dream by passing themselves and their children off as The Riches, a couple who tragically died in a car accident before getting to their new destination.
We recently participated in a conference call with the two stars of The Riches, Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard, to talk about what can be expected from season 2 of The Riches, which premieres March 18 at 10pm.
Find out what they had to say below.
What did doing just seven episodes mean to the season? What did it mean to the storytelling?
Eddie Izzard: Well, obviously, itâ€™s seven episodes because of the strike. I think the writers were obviously aware of this beforehand, and so we built a sort of cliffhanger halfway through the season. So it really didnâ€™t hurt us in any way. I think theyâ€™re seven very strong episodes. The first season, if you watched it all the way through the tone does move around somewhat. The second season, we just sort of knew where we were going, we locked down, we got on the railway lines, and we just went full steam ahead. So I think it makes it like a tighter punch, and weâ€™re coming out now. Itâ€™s a great time to come out, because thereâ€™s a lot of stuff normally out on television, not all of it is back on television. So weâ€™re very happy to come out, do seven, and give it a big smack in the face.
Minnie Driver: Yes, I agree with that. Itâ€™s true. Everybody got hammered by the strike. And whilst we all support the writers, I would have loved to have done a full season. I donâ€™t think the show suffered. I think itâ€™s going to leave the audience wanting more, which is a really good way to end a season at all, and the addition of Jared Harris to our cast I think has added a kind of weight and a danger thatâ€™s really fantastic.
Do you think a viewer could start the second season without having seen any of the first season?
MD: I honestly think that condensed trailer that you get at the beginning of any new season is enough to fill you in on where youâ€™re at. And really, if you just read a blurb that says, â€œA couple of con artists and their kids trying to steal the American dream, move into a rich neighborhood in Louisiana,â€ youâ€™re kind of good to go. I think thatâ€™s whatâ€™s wonderful about our show is that you can explain it really quickly, itâ€™s high concept, and the characters are very immediate. And certainly, we pick up literally 15 seconds after where we left off at the end of season one, so youâ€™re coming straight in, in a really dramatic place. I donâ€™t know, I think people will just jump on.
How would you place the tone this season and how did you find that tone?
EI: I think the tone is more locked down. We went through this tone in last season. I think we ended up at the end of the season with this tone. Itâ€™s somewhat darker. Some of the episodes in the first season were slightly funnier, and theyâ€™re not, the funny comes out at very dry and bizarre circumstances in this season. Itâ€™s a drama with some quirky things going on in it. Itâ€™s just very sure and itâ€™s dark and compelling, and itâ€™s a train ride. So, yes, I loved that, and I think Minnie did as well. We liked where it was going the second season.
EI: Weâ€™re keen to go on through the ninth season.
It seems like thereâ€™s a cliffhanger at the end of or during every episode. At every moment, it looks like theyâ€™re about to be found out.
MD: Weâ€™re serializing the show more this season and I think engaging and keeping an audience in a different way. And you really do, do that by there being a cliffhanger at the end of every episode. The noose is definitely tightening. Thatâ€™s what this whole second season is about. If itâ€™s a bad scene, we get away with it in the first season. Now, the more successful we get, the more desperate and dangerous it becomes. The truth, or what that means to each of us, is really at the center of this whole season, and it does lead to a dramatic ending at the end of every show.
It seems like youâ€™ve got parallel stories, at least in the first couple of episodes where youâ€™re splitting apart. Is that sustained throughout the season?
EI: I think the whole family is actually kind of somewhat exploding, and thereâ€™s a worry that does it take everyone in different directions and youâ€™re not really focused on the show, but it doesnâ€™t seemed to happen that way. So, yes, we are all sort of driving off in somewhat different directions in our brains and in actuality.
Even though this is going to be a seven episode season, are there any notions of doing a quick turnaround and launching into a third season well ahead of schedule?
EI: Thatâ€™s an FX kind of question really. The network have their decisions based upon, they talk to the Oracle in Greece, and â€¦
MD: Turkey, â€¦
MD: We might get picked up, we might not.
EI: John Landgraf (FX Network President) is very passionate about this, and so weâ€™re very happy to be at FX. But theyâ€™ve obviously got things to bear in mind, but from our point of view weâ€™re going on.
MD: Abso-bloody-lutely. I mean, if it were just up to us and Dmitry Lipkin (Creator of “The Riches”) weâ€™d be working every day of the year.
EI: We think through the line, at the pilot I was getting that they wanted to toast season four. So we constantly think through this thing all the way to a future end. So whether anyone wants it or not, weâ€™re still here, weâ€™re going the full length.
With that in mind, do you have a notion of how this is playing out over the next few seasons?
EI: Having been in on one big group meeting; itâ€™s all ideas and theories and maybes, and nothing really gets locked down until we actually shoot it, like minutes before weâ€™re shooting weâ€™re fine tuning things. But with the writers, nothing is nailed to the floor, but it is this big long journey of how far can we steal the American dream.
MD: Yes, and neither should it be nailed down. I think it would be incredibly inflexible and boring if it were, because it leaves no room for life and spontaneity and an idea born in a moment. It doesnâ€™t leave any room to have an impact. And I think thatâ€™s what so great about Dmitry and Dawn and Nicole and Wendy and the rest of the guys, is that theyâ€™re inspired by the moment. I mean they have sort of rough outlines. I think that scares networks, frankly. Theyâ€™d love to have it locked down in a tiny box so they could look at it and say, â€œThis is what itâ€™s going to be.â€ But the reality is that itâ€™s organic and itâ€™s constantly evolving, and thereâ€™s stuff that Ed will say or that Iâ€™ll say or the kids will say that will change an idea of plot line or story line. They want to incorporate that, so itâ€™s more fluid.
Iâ€™m wondering if Dahlia is going to continue opening up and growing and kind of getting out of her closed off ways, or if weâ€™re going to see more of her trying to break out of this Travellerâ€™s mindset?
MD: Well, I think itâ€™s like a Pandoraâ€™s box, and probably with all of the characters, but from my point of view with Dahlia, yes, sheâ€™s led by the truth, or her version of the truth, in this season and wanting to kind of cleanse herself of all of the deceit. She wants to be this new person, but I donâ€™t think she has any idea of who the old person is. So wanting to be somebody new presents a huge challenge, and itâ€™s very interesting and very kind of psychologically challenging to follow her down this rabbit hole. But she definitely continues to expand, like all the characters, in sometimes an incredibly destructive way and sometimes she blossoms. Itâ€™s wild. Itâ€™s very cool.
Eddie, your scenes especially with Hugh Panetta played by Gregg Henry are hilarious. I was wondering how many takes it took to get the mojo scene, when you were trying to explain your theory on the mojo.
EI: That actually wasnâ€™t too many takes, that just seemed to lock in, and thatâ€™s only three or four takes. Itâ€™s quite a fine thing because thereâ€™s an element of my thing where I can go up and make things up in a second, which maybe is useful in The Riches. A lot of it isnâ€™t, because itâ€™s too weird and surreal, and that one seemed to be an interesting scene where I could just sort of just go off slightly on a tangent and I seemed to reach some things which sort of fit without sounding too bizarro. So, yes, itâ€™s great working with Gregg. Gregg just gives so much out of scenes that youâ€™re not expecting it from him. He just comes back like a train. So itâ€™s great working with him.
I really love the relationship between Wayne and Dahlia, and I was wondering how itâ€™s going to evolve in season two?
EI: Yes. Well at the moment itâ€™s heading towards a sort of train wreck, and we wonâ€™t wreck the train. Iâ€™ve always thought that their ambition is similar, because theyâ€™re quite different people, but theyâ€™ve got this ambition thing. They kind of want it all and in different ways. And I think thatâ€™s going to keep them together, and thereâ€™s a love thatâ€™s underneath it. Theyâ€™re both lost children as well, so that â€¦
MD: Yes, yes very much. Theyâ€™ve been so much a unit and suddenly theyâ€™re getting a taste of what it is to be, to exist separate from this nucleus. And whilst thatâ€™s obviously an integral part of being a human being, it is definitely what they discover about each other stuff to tear them apart. So itâ€™s kind of interesting. Itâ€™s like theyâ€™re choosing the individual over the whole in this season. Theyâ€™re choosing to kind of explore their own territory and believe that they are right, you know. Whatâ€™s that great thing about, I think it was my mom who said that great thing, sheâ€™s like, â€œIn a relationship, what do you want to be? Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?â€
EI: I think weâ€™re trying to be right.
MD: And weâ€™re trying to be right, exactly.
As actors, how did you create that relationship between Wayne and Dahlia?
EI: We went to a laboratory and we worked for many months.
MD: On a formula.
EI: On a formula, yes. No, chemistry just sort of exists or not. I think there are distinct elements of Minnie in Dahlia, and distinct elements of me in Wayne, and so itâ€™s probably two people just coming together and â€¦
MD: Weâ€™re just really sure of our corners, you know. When Ed is really sure, and weâ€™ll talk about it beforehand, like whereâ€™s he coming from and whereâ€™s Dahlia coming from. As long as everyoneâ€™s really clear about what line theyâ€™re holding, because then you just put them in the ring and see what happens. But as actors, we sort of try and get clear about it, donâ€™t we, beforehand, and then just go at it and see what happens.
EI: And we will fight our corners like crazy.
MD: Yes. We both passionately believe that our characters are right.
This question is about Dale. It seems that heâ€™s becoming a part of their con, but how is this going to work out?
EI: Itâ€™s a tricky question. When youâ€™re asking writing questions, itâ€™s a little tricky for us because we contribute as much as we can think or would like to, and the writers are happy with that. But the writers did actually, because of the writers strike, close down their minds.
MD: They did. We couldnâ€™t ring them about nothing.
EI: No, we couldnâ€™t ring them. They didnâ€™t want to think about it. They just had to do it to be strong with the WGA. So we donâ€™t know, and I would be very interested to know.
MD: I really do. I think that Dale is such an interesting and amazing character, and theyâ€™ve written him right into the heart of suddenly this pack that he has with Wayne. I donâ€™t have really anything to do with them this season, which has made me sad, because I love working with Todd Stashwick. I really love working with him, but I think weâ€™re going to be seeing a lot more of him.
Are there any funny moments or anecdotes from the set that you could talk about?
EI: I never know on the funny moments.
MD: You know, itâ€™s so terrific, because we do have a really good time. Most of the funny moments I found come with the crew who is there as these kind of passive observers. Theyâ€™re always catching, well, the camera crew is always catching, me looking at myself in the camera lens and doing my hair. Iâ€™m forgetting itâ€™s not a mirror.
EI: There was a gag reel, which I think is on the first season DVD, and it is a fantastic gag reel of all the stuff thatâ€™s kind of where our brains are. I think most of the time weâ€™re trying not to get killed by the road thatâ€™s between where our trailers are …
MD: Exactly, and our studio.
EI: And the studio. Thereâ€™s a road that I think, Minnie didnâ€™t you get the pedestrian crossing put in.
MD: Yes. Between where our base camp is, where our trailers are, you have to cross a road to get to the studio, and itâ€™s one of those roads that people drive a million miles an hour. Iâ€™ve literally stopped traffic. Iâ€™ve basically been in next to nothing, like in a night dress with my boobs hanging out, and someone will be driving really, really fast. And Iâ€™ll start yelling, â€œWould you stop driving your car so fast,â€ as Dahlia. But, yes, theyâ€™ve now put in speed bumps. So thatâ€™s pretty funny.
EI: Yes, we worked it out with the coffee truck that goes on every morning and the last thing at night on the Friday, not Friday nights but, yes.
MD: Thatâ€™s fun. About funny things, you start busy working. Itâ€™s weird. Youâ€™re in such a state of tiredness and hysteria most of the time itâ€™s hard to separate out what is and what you maybe think was really funny.
Whatâ€™s the most challenging part of portraying these characters for you both?
EI: For me, I think thereâ€™s a technical thing, Iâ€™m still catching up on dealing with all this stuff thatâ€™s around me, these cameras, trying to push them back in your mind so that youâ€™re sitting in the moment and not worrying, and you have to not worry about all these 100-150 people standing around you wanting you to do this right. Having done so much time on stage, I just ignore everything else, and then suddenly thereâ€™s all this stuff, and that is probably my most challenging thing is learning to just push that back, ignore, and be in the moment, and just relax and get on with it.
MD: I think I just get so emotionally wound up by this character, by where sheâ€™s coming from, where sheâ€™s so high octane, 99% of the time. It can become super inflammatory â€”you know sheâ€™s just a huge character and I definitely get exhausted, but also get very over emotional, which is a challenge. You kind of exhaust yourself and exhaust the people around you as well. So I think thatâ€™s probably the hardest part of playing Dahlia.
Out of all the episodes that youâ€™ve done for this season coming up, which one is your favorite or was your favorite to film?
MD: Iâ€™m confused about the numbers now, but it was the one, itâ€™s the penultimate episode where thereâ€™s a huge â€™70s costume party that Nina throws for her husbandâ€™s birthday, and so much goes down at this party. Pretty much the whole episode takes place in her house at this party, and thereâ€™s drugs, thereâ€™s death, thereâ€™s sex, thereâ€™s kind of destruction, and revelation, and it was one of the most amazing things Iâ€™ve ever done as an actor. I enjoyed it so much and it was such hard work, but it was like shooting a movie, it really was. It was like shooting a movie in a week. It was outrageous. I loved that.
EI: Yes, yes, I liked that one.
MD: Yes, it was awesome.
With each of the characters they seem to be kind of getting cornered more and more like rats. Are we going to see a little bit of an ease up on their situation? Are they going to get a little bit more lucky breaks or is it going to get worse as the season goes along?
EI: Well, Iâ€™d say since they havenâ€™t written the rest of the season I would assume that itâ€™s just going to keep ramping up, and then there will be some turn at some point. Itâ€™s really difficult to fathom this, because itâ€™s just conjecture, but logically itâ€™s just going to keep piling it on and then around episode 8, 9, 10, 11, itâ€™s going to turn and go somewhere else, and then weâ€™ll have a cliffhanger. But itâ€™s difficult for us to say more than that, because no one knows. It is weird that we get to this place.
MD: I donâ€™t think itâ€™s going to get any easier. If there are easy moments, itâ€™ll sort of be like being in the eye of the storm. There will be pockets, but they wonâ€™t be really whatâ€™s going on.
EI: I can tell you whatâ€™s going to happen for the next seven seasons, which is that this is just going to keep ramping up and up and up and weâ€™re just going to keep stealing more of the American dream, and the stakes will just get higher and higher. Itâ€™s got to go there. Thatâ€™s our place to go. How that will actually turn out, we donâ€™t know, but itâ€™s going to be that crazy ride.
A theme early on this season seems to me that everyone has their price, and they end up returning to Edenfall for their $13 million dollars in Hughâ€™s deal. Is that their price, and what do you think that says about the characters?
EI: I think itâ€™s Wayneâ€™s price. At $13 million, you could actually say a bazillion million, itâ€™s just more than heâ€™s ever fathomed.
MD: We had a lot of discussions about this, didnâ€™t we? I mean, we all come back, but there is clearly Cal doesnâ€™t want to come back. I donâ€™t really want to go back at all. Wayne wants to go back, and this is our first fatal flaw, in a way. Itâ€™s like this is the first time that weâ€™ve shown ourselves to be, like itâ€™s the first chink in the armor to me, not the killing of the people in the first.
EI: We never really meant to kill any of these people. But I do think â€¦
MD: You see him, you see that Wayne, something is different in Wayne, like you see this slight â€¦
EI: The end justifies the means. I think he really feels that if we get just this, thereâ€™s only one chance of getting this and this is it. And maybe in the future it will turn out, though it isnâ€™t the only chance, but at this point I think this is the only chance and heâ€™s willing to burn the family to get it. With an idea that after heâ€™s got it â€¦
MD: Heâ€™ll put it back together.
EI: Heâ€™ll put the family back together.
MD: But itâ€™s a really Machiavellian idea, itâ€™s the first time youâ€™ve seen again Wayne operating outside of the unit. Heâ€™s doing something for the good of the family, but itâ€™s not a familial decision. Itâ€™s something that heâ€™s decided. I think that is a huge turning point. I think it says a lot that we go along with it. It says a lot about Wayne, but itâ€™s really to me the first moment. Itâ€™s setting up the season, because youâ€™re basically going to see that spiritual and moral compunction unit come under even more fire, or youâ€™re going to see kind of the true expression of who these people are I think this season, and I think it begins with that $13 million.
One of the things that I think people who arenâ€™t grifters always assume is that there is a different kind of mindset, and that maybe those people actually sleep better than I do, and yet it seems as if theyâ€™re always on the edge and itâ€™s making them nervous. Are they undergoing some changes that would make them feel like thereâ€™s more at stake?
MD: Well, I donâ€™t think they sleep well at night. I really donâ€™t. I think that they are taking a huge gamble. I mean everything is on the line. From Dahliaâ€™s point of view, she could go back to jail in two seconds flat. Her kids could be taken away. Wayne could go to jail, I mean, will go to jail if he gets caught. And there is now a dead person involved in all of this. Everything has gotten â€¦
EI: … two.
MD: … two, yes, exactly.
EI: We argue this on the set. Then Minnie mentions thereâ€™s a dead person, okay, thereâ€™s three dead people.
MD: Three dead people. They donâ€™t count the first two dead people. They donâ€™t count.
EI: We would be down for murder for the first two, even though we say itâ€™s nothing to do with us.
MD: They would pin it on us.
EI: Sure the police, they would pin it on us.
EI: Because we would have left fingerprints, well we didnâ€™t have gloves, I donâ€™t know.
MD: I donâ€™t know how there was ever a scene of us waking up in the morning, because I donâ€™t know how theyâ€™ve ever gone to bed the night before, truly.
But they are more daring than the average American, who never thinks of coloring outside the lines. Most people never even think of coloring outside the lines, and these guys have taken over somebody elseâ€™s life. Is there a difference in their personality or have they just become as scared as everybody else?
EI: Oh no, I think this happens all over America. Thereâ€™s a weird thing with The Riches that when it first came up people said, â€œThis is strange to believe, can we believe this story?â€ And then there was that story of a guy who kidnapped a kid and he was working at a pizza place, and then they found there was another kid that heâ€™d already kidnapped, and these kids were going to school; crazy stories happening in America, in Europe …
MD: I think that thatâ€™s one of the things, America likes to look at itself as this kind of straightforward picket fence ideal, when the reality of whatâ€™s going on is much rarer than that, and itâ€™s much stranger. And I think we are fictionalizing an element of Americana that people donâ€™t want to think about, which is that I think a ton of people are coloring outside of the lines, they just maybe donâ€™t want to admit it. And here we are kind of admitting it and going, you know what, this is literally what we do for a living and weâ€™ve got a taste for it.
EI: Identity theft is here and probably here to stay.
MD: Yes, exactly.
I guess the impression I always get is identity thieves are probably calmer than people who are lying in bed at night worrying that somebody is going to steal their identity, and this suggests that no, everybodyâ€™s nervous.
EI: Yes. Yes, I think thatâ€™s true. The only calm people are astronauts… Was that a left turn?
MD: The only calm people are astronauts.
Eddie, are your comedy fans shocked by your character? Did they expect something when you came out with this series, and then were like â€œWow, whatâ€™s this character youâ€™re playing?â€ Do they always expect you to be funny?
EI: No, I donâ€™t think so. I mean, Iâ€™ve been training them â€”I did Broadway, and generally in some pieces or with television Iâ€™ve done in Britain Iâ€™ve been trying to do dramatic work. So even though my standup is kind of weird and surreal and this isnâ€™t that, I donâ€™t think theyâ€™re surprised. Iâ€™m meeting people who said, â€œI saw “The Riches” and someone told me you did standup.â€ So I think everyoneâ€™s sort of up to speed. I already put out that signal and so they knew about that.
Minnie, youâ€™ve done so many successful movies, how do you like working in television versus movies?
MD: Itâ€™s much faster, yes, my God, it is much, much faster. In a movie, youâ€™re lucky if you shoot a page a day, and weâ€™re shooting like eight pages a day. Itâ€™s a very fast pace. I just love this character. I donâ€™t really care too much about the medium, I just want to really do good work, and sheâ€™s the best part Iâ€™ve ever had. So I kind of set myself to whateverâ€™s going to accommodate me getting to act in the best that I can, and I love it. I absolutely love having a regular paycheck. I love going to work everyday. I love knowing when I can plan a vacation for the first time in my entire adult life. Maybe Iâ€™m just getting old, but I couldnâ€™t work as hard as I do, because it is eight times the work that a movie is, I couldnâ€™t do it if I didnâ€™t love this character in the show as much as I do, because it is so hard. I donâ€™t know how people that are stuck on TV shows that they have no respect for and they donâ€™t really like do. It would be the end of the world.
Have you guys ever worked together before or was this just a first like match made in heaven?
EI: We hadnâ€™t even met.
How did that happen?
EI: Oh, you know, in the end how people actually end up getting together and working together and having chemistry is really weird.
MD: Itâ€™s so random, itâ€™s like the universe that weâ€™re in.
EI: Yes. Well weâ€™ve got chemistry.
Last season we saw a couple members of the family really move away from the Travellers lifestyle, especially Di Di and Sam. How is that kind of split in the family going to widen this season and how will we be seeing that affect the family?
MD: Well, it sort of gets a bit bigger than that. Whatâ€™s different this season is itâ€™s not so much about either going back to being a Traveller or staying and exploring being a buffer, itâ€™s really about the stuff within each of these characters that is going to blow the family apart. The choices that theyâ€™re making, kind of emotionally that have an impact on the rest of the family. Weâ€™re definitely all going our own way in this season. So people are sort of moving towards what it is they want to create more of. Every single character is doing this.
How is Dahlia and Ninaâ€™s relationship going to be affecting Dahlia and Wayne?
MD: Itâ€™s not so much that it affects Dahlia and Wayne. I think it gives Margo Martindale, who is one of the finest actresses around, more of an opportunity to shine, and she definitely becomes more familiar with a lot of hidden skeletons.
With the shortened season, are there talks about maybe doing a bit of a longer third season?
EI: Iâ€™m not sure about Minnie, but Iâ€™m up for that. As I said to everyone else, it doesnâ€™t matter when we do the next six. It just matters that we do 91. So, yes, if it turns out to be 19, if thereâ€™s a break in the middle, whatever, we want to do this and we love doing it, and it takes a lot out of us, but itâ€™s the right time and right place to do it. It takes so long to get this right in this place with the tramlines lining up and everything that we want to do this and put it down so it becomes a piece that sticks around.
MD: For a TV show to be successful, to be well reviewed, to have actors who kind of dig each other and keep getting more interesting, to have great writers, to have a studio or a network thatâ€™s behind you, itâ€™s like lightning in a bottle. I mean, itâ€™s so rare that you, and it does happen once in awhile that wonderful stuff ends up on the trash heap, and I donâ€™t understand how Freaks and Geeks didnâ€™t carry on. And you really feel like no one is safe, because I sometimes feel it doesnâ€™t matter how good you are you might not stay on the air, but I feel like we will keep going and if they said to us that we want you guys to do 19, I donâ€™t think that thereâ€™s anyone that would go, â€œNo, I donâ€™t want to do that,â€ because everyone whoâ€™s in the show is so behind it.
What did you guys do like during the strike to kind of fill the time?
EI: We did knitting.
MD: â€¦ crosswords.
EI: Yes, we just sat around the campfire. We all went to the travel camp â€¦
MD: We just sat around and played songs.
EI: And then just generally hanging around loitering with intent.
EI: Itâ€™s a criminal thing, but â€¦
MD: Ed was doing his standup all over the world. I was doing my music â€¦
EI: I went to the city where I was born, which was happily my first time in 45 years.
I love how your series uses these incredible secondary characters, the actors that fill their rolls like Lee Garlington, and obviously Margo and Gregg, and I was wondering if you could talk about some of the secondary characters that you both really enjoy. Also, this mysterious Irish Traveller with the accent thatâ€™s sort of coming back like a specter for Wayne that is sort of mysterious, and the only Traveller with an Irish accent, I was wondering if you could elaborate on that?
EI: Well, of course the Travellers come from Ireland, and the majority of the Travellers in America probably came, a big chunk of them came over at the potato famine in the 1850â€™s time. So thereâ€™s still Travellers back at home, thatâ€™s what me and Minnie know Travellers from.
EI: Less so from the people who are here, but the characters are great. Weâ€™ve got such great actors weâ€™re working around. I think we try and think of it as an ensemble piece. They tend to give us bunches of scenes or whatever, but just such great people to play against.
MD: Yes. Gregg Henry and Margo Martindale, I think theyâ€™re such exceptional actors, Todd Stashwick. It would be good, but it wouldnâ€™t be great without them, you know theyâ€™re justâ€”
EI: Something surprising in every scene.
EI: Youâ€™re going, â€œOh, I wasnâ€™t thinking of going in that direction.â€
EI: And itâ€™s great.
MD: Theyâ€™re so accomplished and experienced, more experience than Eddie and I put together that just has been around, and theyâ€™re clever, clever actors. They really are.
EI: And Jared Harris brings this dark danger, a very still quality thatâ€™s just great, and we love it.
What is his beef with Wayne? Can you divulge that?
MD: What is his beef with Wayne?
EI: He stole my pencil a long time ago. We donâ€™t know.
MD: We donâ€™t know, do we?
EI: This hasnâ€™t been nailed, but this is out of my head and how I have the back story written in my head, is that they were the firmest of friends. They were as tight as could be. Theyâ€™re almost brothers, and it went very, very bad for some reason. I donâ€™t know quite what it is. But thatâ€™s what I think and thatâ€™s why I think itâ€™s so bad, because they were very, very close.
MD: I like that.
EI: Itâ€™s weird when weâ€™re inside and people say, â€œWhat happens next,â€ and weâ€™re going â€¦
MD: Tell them, â€œWe donâ€™t know.â€
EI: And the writers go, â€œWe donâ€™t know.â€ And itâ€™s quite amazing, itâ€™s like getting in a car and you know and just going, â€œOh we donâ€™t know whatâ€™s around the corner.â€
MD: Yes, or if youâ€™re going to crash.
You said about shooting this during the writerâ€™s strike you couldnâ€™t ask the writers any questions. Thatâ€™s a pretty unusual thing.
MD: Yes, we had no contact with these people at all, I mean, itâ€™s weird.
EI: Yes. It was unusual for normal circumstances, but I think thatâ€™s what everyone did in the strike. Anyone who was continuing just couldnâ€™t talk to their writers. They were very firm about it, but they worked it out. They locked those scripts down as good as they could before they left.
MD: We changed stuff, like we would change words, because normally if you changed anything you know youâ€™ll be involving them. But seeing as we couldnâ€™t do that, I mean it felt like we were rewriting whole chunks of dialogue but it was weird though, there were moments where I so wanted to ask one of them, â€œWhat the hell did you mean by this?â€ And you just had to figure it out.
EI: We lost an edge of the flexibility of tuning that you get when you get down to the wire.
MD: Yes, exactly. But weirdly, I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s a good thing or a bad thing, but we managed to do it without them.
It sounds like you had a little freedom in being able to interpret it the way you wanted to in some cases.
EI: Well, no, I think they give us a lot of freedom and at times they may have big arguments, and then you know.
MD: Itâ€™s rare that when weâ€™re on the set when the writers are around that you have a big spat about because everyoneâ€™s pretty much on the same page.
EI: I think youâ€™ve got to work it out beforehand that you just canâ€™t â€¦
MD: Thereâ€™s no time.
EI: Yes, yes.
Now that you can talk to them, have you talked about how you ended up doing some scenes where you had some questions?
EI: They seemed to be happy enough. There were certain executives who werenâ€™t running executives who were working on it who the writers trusted, and so I think everyone seems to be happy about how itâ€™s turned out. And happy is quite an important word, even though it sounds kind of simple, if people are not happy then they do say it.
MD: Yes, yes, yes.
Do you ever have people coming up to you who recognize you from the show and who are Travellers and say, â€œHey, you know, youâ€™re doing it right,â€ or â€œHey, you might think about doing this, this way?â€
EI: Well, Iâ€™ve interacted once, but they just took a photograph of me.
MD: Iâ€™ve been yelled at in e-mail.
MD: Portraying. Yes, portraying, actually on MySpace. I have a music MySpace page, and Iâ€™ve gotten some e-mails from purported Travellers saying that weâ€™re doing such a huge disservice portraying them as con people, and I literally couldnâ€™t help writing back to them, â€œBut you are.â€
EI: Itâ€™s like saying there are a number of Italian people in the Mafia, and Italian-Americans, the number of Italian-Americans who are completely legitimate are probably the majority. Weâ€™re just portraying one family who happen to be Travellers. And itâ€™s just because thereâ€™s not a lot of media about Travellers, everyoneâ€™s thinking well, this is all about everyone.
MD: And the media that there has been has been about that woman and the kid and of thievery â€¦
EI: So, you know, the Mafia doesnâ€™t mean that all Italian-Americans are in the Mafia, you just â€¦
MD: But it does mean they all eat spaghetti.
So there are Travellers that are okay or that are not thieves?
EI: We havenâ€™t gone around and met them all, but yes.
MD: Itâ€™s not like we can find out a whole lot of stuff about this, but there had to be a certain amount of poetic license taken. When people write e-mails going, why oh why oh why did you do this, it’s so completely wrong, and itâ€™s because you wouldnâ€™t tell us how to do it. Itâ€™s a very closed society. Itâ€™s very hard to get any true information. And we cobbled together with Dmitry really great ideas from Irish Travellers.
EI: But we also had it from certain sources of people who dealt with people who were doing stuff that was somewhat illegal.
MD: Yes, exactly.
EI: And that was what we were looking for, but this is about one family of Travellers and weâ€™re not even a typical family of Travellers, because weâ€™re going off to do a very crazy thing.
MD: And Iâ€™m actually English and so are you.
EI: Yes, but it is about outsiders becoming insiders, and so most of us in the family are actually not Americans. And Shannon is American, but sheâ€™s from Florida and that was Spanish in the 1600â€™s.
Do each of you have maybe a dream actor that youâ€™d like to be cast for season three?
EI: I want Sean Connery to play a role.
MD: Yes, fantastic.
EI: Yes, but heâ€™s quite keen on decent money. Our money is kind of weâ€™ll pay you in breadsticks.
MD: I want Helen Mirren. I want Helen Mirren to be my half sister. Oh, God, Iâ€™d do anything to work with her.
EI: Weâ€™re just going to go for a massive star casting and have everyone turn us down. Itâ€™s just because we do pay in breadsticks and M&Mâ€™s.
MD: We pay in Eddieâ€™s one-liners. Come for dinner and then youâ€™ll get.
EI: And then say, â€œHey, that looks like a pig.â€
Do you think Dahlia and Wayne have any qualms about the way theyâ€™re raising their kids? And how are they so loving and accepting of Sam?
EI: I think Dahlia is more accepting of Sam. Wayne is saying okay as long as youâ€™re happy. And what Iâ€™m doing with Wayne is Iâ€™m channeling what my father said to me, as long as youâ€™re happy. But I think the latest is taken from Dahlia, it comes and itâ€™s also the way Minnie played that. I think the writers picked up in the way that you [Minnie] were to Sam. I think heâ€™s just saying I should follow the line, thereâ€™s some part of him that says that you should love your children before you start judging them.
Do they have any qualms about how theyâ€™re raising their other kids? Do they think that itâ€™s going to be harmful for their future?
MD: Oh, you know, youâ€™ve got to say that the bottom line with these people is that they just want to love their kids. I mean, they can just teach them what they know. They want them to know where they come from, particularly Wayne, wants to give them every opportunity to be whatever they want to be. I mean, itâ€™s very unorthodox. Itâ€™s very different, a conventional idea of parenting, but I think love is the cornerstone of any parenting, and in that department theyâ€™re unfailing in their devotion to their children.