Deadline Hollywood - AwardsLine - 06/15/22 - Emmy Preview/Drama

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JUNE 15, 2022 | EMMY PREVIEW/DRAMA

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The Power Of

PACHINKO How the Apple TV+ hit captured our hearts

INSIDE: MURRAY BARTLETT / JULIANNA MARGULIES / SAMUEL L. JACKSON / JENNA ORTEGA / JON HUERTAS / RICK GLASSMAN & MORE


“You are the bane of my existence. And the object of all my desires. Night and day I dream of you.”

“A GEM OF A SEASON. With vivid performances — Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley’s, to name just two — and razor-sharp production elements, ‘Bridgerton’ feels brand-new.” NEWSDAY

FROM SHONDALAND

FYC.NETFLIX.COM

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CALL SHEET First Take 8 MURRAY BARTLETT: How the renaissance man went from actor to iconic with The White Lotus 11 QUICK SHOTS: The cinematography of Slow Horses; the relationship mythology of Love Death + Robots 14 ON MY SCREEN: As We See It and TV favorites 16 PLAYING BALL: Winning Time takes the Lakers from insidebasketball to mainstream viewing

Portrait Gallery 20 Deadline’s Contenders Television: Los Angeles

Cover Story 32 LIVING FOR TODAY: Pachinko creator Soo Hugh and cast Yuhjung Youn, Minha Kim and Jin Ha trace their journey into a new era of multi-generational storytelling

Feature 42 The Emmy Hotlist: The names burning a hole in your ballot

Dialogue 46 50 52 54

Jon Huertas Julianna Margulies Jenna Ortega Samuel L. Jackson

Portrait Gallery 56 Deadline’s Studio at Cannes

Flash Mob 62 Deadline’s Televison Awards Season Kickoff Party ON THE COVER: Soo Hugh, Jin Ha and Minha Kim photographed exclusively for Deadline by Josh Telles


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How his turn in The White Lotus took MURRAY BARTLETT from actor to iconic

RENAISSANCE MAN


It’s not often an actor can work for 35 years and suddenly make the leap into serious, household-name fame. But that’s precisely what happened to Murray Bartlett. The Australian began acting back in 1987, and while he’s landed a plethora of projects in his career, he says, “I haven’t really had that many choices along the way.” Then came The White Lotus. And Bartlett’s portrayal of fussy, tortured hotelier Armond took him from working actor to the kind of famous that inspires Halloween costumes and selfies on the street. He never expected this new renaissance in his career, and certainly not in the middle of a worldwide lockdown. Getting the role in the first place was a “very weird, specifically pandemic experience,” he says. After one self-tape, Mike White, the show’s creator, writer and director, invited him to the shoot location of Hawaii. Bartlett figured, “Why wouldn’t you take a leap with someone like Mike White?” Reading the rest of the scripts on the plane, he discovered Armond’s full arc, which he found “daunting, in a great way,” he says. An unsurprising reaction perhaps, given that Armond gets to indulge in not only a fantastically eyebrow-raising sex scene, but also, notoriously (spoiler alert) defecates in an errant guest’s suitcase. Over a nightmare week in Armond’s life, the demanding and dysfunctional guests at The White Lotus resort gradually break his spirit—and his sobriety to boot. He’s faced with Connie Britton’s horrific momfluencer, the entitled tantrums of Jake’s Lacy’s honeymooner, the drug-fuelled exploits of Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O’Grady’s spiteful, sulky teens, and the truly deranged Tanya, played by Jennifer Coolidge. After five years of abstinence, Armond falls off the wagon in spectacular style, and who can blame him? “It’s a brilliantly written character in that way,” says Bartlett, “in that his role as a manager of the hotel is to keep up this public face.” That public face masks the internal struggle of a man trying to stay sober while under impossible duress. The pandemic also provided the unique opportunity to film at the Four Seasons Resort in Maui, which was shut down when production started. “We were pulled out of our Covid pods and taken to this amazing TV camp on the beach,” Bartlett says. “It was such a unique experience.” But then, as the hotel partially re-opened halfway through production, they were forced to shoot his scenes out of sequence. Bartlett felt it was important to plot moments in Armond’s drug journey and how that would affect his behavior, which was difficult to track with the schedule. But luckily, White was there every step of the way. “Having the creator-writer-director there with you is such a fantastic experience, because you’re with the source of the material.”

The White Lotus.

Together, they managed to keep track of Armond’s timeline while still playing in the moment and keeping in mind their most important objective: keep him relatable throughout his downward spiral. “He’s a big character in a wonderful way and I wanted to lean into that, but also make sure that he felt human and vulnerable, and not like a caricature,” Bartlett says. That doesn’t mean they weren’t willing to go a little crazy with some of the scenes, hence the infamous suitcase scenario. Bartlett calls that particular scene a testament to the brilliance of White. “Mike takes things to the absolute limit, and he lets characters really follow through with their intentions, and I think that’s the brilliance of that poop scene.” And the hallmark of The White Lotus in a way is to make you laugh while simultaneously making you uncomfortable. “It’s a really clever balance of comedy and tragedy that confronts us with the less attractive sides of our human nature,” Bartlett says.

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That balance of comedy and tragedy is something Bartlett deeply enjoys about acting. Even from a young age, he felt compelled by the craft—something that was sparked by an unlikely source: speech therapy he received after his brother accidentally knocked his front teeth out while trying to hit a spider. Bartlett had difficulty pronouncing the letter ‘s’ once his permanent teeth grew in, so his therapist gave him poems and monologues to read aloud. For a child as enthralled with imagination as he was, Bartlett immediately fell in love with acting. “I lived in my imagination,” he says. “I would dress up in weird clothes and wander around the yard like I was in an imaginary world.” That inspiration led him to stay with that therapist for years, fueling his passion for the stage. Following theater camp and high school drama club, he got his first guest role on an Australian television series, The Flying Doctors. “I don’t think I was very good,” he admits. “I was terrified when I first started in TV; It was a very intense time.” He had always felt more comfortable doing plays in the theater, but he decided to push himself and go to acting school, at the time filled with optimism. But the insular nature of acting in his home country did not always give him confidence. “Australia can feel like a small industry when you’re working there, and there can be long times in between work,” he says. But Bartlett persevered. “It’s not that I haven’t thought about giving up, because we all have existential crises along the way, but acting seemed like a natural thing for me.” In one of these moments of crisis, he decided to take a break and gave himself two options: go to New Zealand for a 10-day wilderness walk, or move to New York City and take classes. “I chose New York and fell in love with the stimulating environment,” he says. And it wasn’t long before he booked a role. Through a friendof-a-friend, he managed to get an audition for one of the biggest television shows at the time, Sex and the City. The role was Oliver Spencer, a shoe distributor, slightly fickle man-about-town and hot new friend to lead character Carrie. “They called me up one night, and two days later I was in a room with Sarah Jessica Parker. That was my first job in the U.S., which was shocking and thrilling, but amazing, and felt like a dream.” Considering that first Sex and the City gig, it seems fitting that HBO were involved in his current career renaissance—one that’s already paying off. “I think acting was something I was always going to do, I kept falling into it and loved it,” Bartlett says, “but after The White Lotus, there have been wonderful things coming my way.” A year after The White Lotus wrapped, Bartlett shot

Right: Bartlett’s Armond eavesdrops in The White Lotus. Below: as Vinnie Green with Rose Byrne in Physical.

“It’s not that I haven’t thought about giving up, because we all have existential crises along the way, but acting seemed like a natural thing for me.” AWARDSLINE

a role in the second season of Apple TV+ show Physical, alongside fellow Australian Rose Byrne. Like Armond, his Physical character has a public face that hides the complexity beneath. As Vinnie Green, a health and fitness guru, he seems to be everything frustrated ’80s housewife Sheila (Byrne) wants in life. “He acts as a counterpart to Sheila, who has this public face, but she’s got this inner voice berating her, and Vinnie has similar childhood trauma that he’s carrying,” Bartlett explains. “It’s brilliant because those things are still relevant now. We’re packaged differently, but there’s still a similar struggle between what’s going on inside and what you’re showing to the outside world.” Bartlett has also recently finished filming another HBO Max series The Last of Us, based on the hugely popular video game and set to premiere next year. He admits he didn’t know much about the story before starting work on the show, but he knew it was something special when he read the first script. “I’m not a gamer,” he says, “but if you’re a gamer, then you know it’s an amazing world and people really connect to that game in such a strong way.” Adapting a video game into a TV series can be very tricky, but he says they’ve done a beautiful job in making the “character relationships feel poignant and strong, in a big world.” Right now, he’s on the set of the Hulu limited series Immigrant, which tells the origin story of the Chippendales stripper troupe. Starring alongside Kumail Nanjiani, Andrew Rannells, Dan Stevens and Juliette Lewis, Bartlett plays Nick De Noia, a choreographer from New York who helps take the show to the next level. “It’s a fantastic balance between this fun world of these male burlesque dancers and this really dark underbelly that is quite confronting and intense,” he says. So, it requires nuanced duality, serious daring and proper acting chops? That certainly sounds like a job for Bartlett.


Q U I C K

Anti-Spy Thriller

S H OTS

Slow Horses

Charted Territory

In Slow Horses, Danny Cohen takes a simpler approach to cinematography to highlight the writing

-

Most spy thrillers rely on action-

At press time, here is how Gold Derby’s experts ranked the Emmy chances in the Best Drama Series Actor and Actress races. Get up-to-date rankings and make your own predictions at GoldDerby.com

Drama Series Actor

Slow Horses

But Cohen found that scene

1 Brian Cox Succession ODDS .................................

to Slow Horses -

2 Lee Jung-jae Squid Game

Ryan Fleming

ODDS ...................................

3 Jeremy Strong Succession ODDS ..................................

4 Jason Bateman Ozark ODDS .................................

5 Bob Odenkirk Better Call Saul ODDS ...................................

Drama Series Actress 1 Zendaya Euphoria

Toxic Relationships

2

Alberto Mielgo explores a deadly mythological love for Love Death + Robots Coming off of an Oscar win for his short-animatThe Windshield Wiper, writer-director -

ODDS .................................

-

Laura Linney Ozark

India, North Africa and

surround three key

-

3 Melanie Lynskey Yellowjackets

Instead of the

ODDS ..................................

s return to the series after the many forms it takes dition to the Love Death + Robots Love Death + Robots of animated shorts that

ODDS ...................................

4 Jennifer Aniston The Morning Show ODDS .................................

5 -

Mandy Moore This Is Us

—Ryan Fleming

ODDS .................................


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your path to anyone. It sets you up for failure because you’ll never duplicate being someone else; and if you come close, best-case scenario, you’re unoriginal. Oh, also, when on camera, if the light is your glasses, move the earpieces up higher. It’ll feel weird, but the camera won’t see the angle change. So, in conclusion, listen to as many perspectives as you can but make your own decisions, adjust your glasses, and moms rocks!

The Best Advice I Ever Received Rick Glassman in As We See It.

My First Film Lesson

RICK GLASSMAN The As We See It breakout on his big and small screen favorites, and the toughest role of his career By Joe Utichi

Get used to Rick Glassman’s name: you’ll be hearing a lot more of it as his career continues to ascend. The comic— and host of the Take Your Shoes Off podcast—plays a starring role as Jack in Prime Video’s As We See It, from creator Jason Katims. The show follows a group of three Angeleno roommates living with autism as they attempt to navigate the world. And Katims, whose own son has Asperger’s syndrome, was determined that the show be cast authentically, with actors living on the spectrum given the lead roles. Sue Ann Pien and Albert Rutecki round out the lead cast as Jack’s roommates, while Sosie Bacon plays the group’s neurotypical live-in aide and Joe Mantegna plays Jack’s dad.

AWARDSLINE

In undergrad, I took ‘Acting for Film and Television’. I remember I thought my teacher (professor? What’s the difference? I feel like ‘professor’ reads as a higher title… but teachers are important too. As are mothers!) was so experienced because he had a line in Shawshank Redemption. I thought, I better do whatever he tells me to do so I too can make it in showbiz. Then, when I moved to the big city— HOLLYWOOD—I was forced to take my own path, which included years of background work (which I still love) stand-up comedy, and bouts of intense OCD, where I couldn’t leave my home. So, I created content from my living room; shout out to the Take Your Shoes Off podcast. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having one line in a movie, but I say this to offer which is: everyone has their own path, perspectives, and experiences. As valuable it can feel at times, never compare yourself or

I’ve been gifted some great advice, and it’s hard to reduce it to one thing, but acting, I will choose one that was given to me in the context of being an actor—which is less important than being a mother, but more important than being a writer. When I asked a role model of mine for advice on [too long to explain and irrelevant] he said, “Don’t raise your hand for anything.” As somebody who felt he had burned a lot of bridges, overnegotiated, and tried to model his successes from what his peers had accomplished, he explained what our job is. It isn’t to get more money, get more lines, or try to be involved in everything. Our job is to show up on time, be prepared, and be liked. People want to work with those they like more than those who are simply talented. I think about this all the time. It’s such a great way to recognize when my ego may be making a decision for me. To give a basketball analogy, because I love basketball and I can still dunk, sometimes our job is to get rebounds and take charges.

If I want to shoot 3s, I’ll do it at home on my own time, and write my own thing. And speaking of writing, I was joking about actors being more important than writers. Writers and mothers are the backbone of this country.

The Part I Always Wanted I’m gonna give a corny answer: to feel included. I always loved playing but didn’t have many friends as a kid. Now, thanks to a beautiful community of comedians and co-workers, I not only feel included and part of a something, but I’m also able to pay my rent from doing it. Sure, I wouldn’t mind being an action star, but I’m very content and grateful with where I currently am.

My Toughest Role If I were to answer this question as a Friends episode title, it would probably have to be “The One That Made You Ask Me To Do This Interview”. On As We See It, I play Jack, a 25-year-old computer programmer who feels he’s doing a great job keeping his autism diagnosis a secret. When he is outed, he has a bit of a meltdown. Though the kid in me relates to Jack a lot, I, as an adult who is open and accepting of who I am—of which autism is a part— found it very challenging the need to hide who I am. Thankfully, I got a take that worked—coupled with the editing, the music and Jason Katims—and let’s just say my parents watched this series four times. In addition to acting on this beautiful show, I was concerned about the responsibility that may come with promoting it. I was diagnosed with

AL I G O L DST E I N /A M AZO N ST UD IOS/ N BC/CO URT ESY E VE RE T T CO LL ECT IO N / 20T H C E N T U RY FOX/ WA LT D I SN E Y CO. / N E W LI N E C IN E MA

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Ex-Girlfriend: Elf Dad: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Monk Mom: Will Ferrell in Elf.

Will Smith in The Fresh Prince.

American BFF: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Idol & America/Britain’s Got Talent Shark Tank

British BFF: American BFF 2 American BFF 3:

The Most Fun I’ve Had On Set

The Films and TV Shows That Make Me Cry

joking around and laughing on set between scenes

The Character That’s Most Like Me

Armageddon

am Will in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

My Guilty Pleasure

As We See It also

My Karaoke Playlist

American K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life”

Who’d Play Me In My Biopic Will Ferrell

Daniel Day Lewis

Liv Tyler in Armageddon.

Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln.

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John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss in Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty.

ON THE CLOCK How Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty brought a pivotal time in the Lakers legend to TV By Mike Fleming Jr.

Who could have imagined that the dramatization of the Los Angeles Lakers’ ’79-’80 NBA Championship season known as ‘Showtime’ would interest anyone other than die-hard hoop fans? Basing the narrative on Jeff Pearlman’s book, and every news report and book written by members of the Lakers, and taking more than a few creative liberties, Adam McKay, Max Borenstein and their creative cohorts took basketball’s perfect storm pivotal moment when the NBA transformed from a regional sport into a global juggernaut—and made it into broadly appealing television with Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. There’s poker player/chemist Jerry Buss putting all his real estate chips on the table to buy the team and choosing Michigan State star Magic Johnson as his first draft pick, despite already having a gifted point guard in Norm Nixon. Then there’s incoming genius commissioner David Stern seizing on the rivalry between Magic and Boston Celtics rookie Larry Bird. And then Buss injecting sex appeal into the sport in the advent of the wild ’80s—Winning Time’s hit HBO 10-part series took full advantage of many storytelling lanes. In fact, there was so much material left over, they’re already working on a second season and maybe beyond, and the next season won’t get to the second wind of the Lakers dynasty, the Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson portion of the program. “We came at this as fans of the team and everything that this era represented,” EP and showrunner Borenstein says. “These players and coaches achieved so much, but what was also important for me and my collaborators was this not just be a show made for basketball or sports fans; the conception was more ambitious. We wanted to use this as a prism of the

AWARDSLINE

story of the 1980s, with the Showtime-era Lakers as a window onto a moment of cultural transformation from economics and race relations, to gender.” Borenstein relished the story that comprised such a rich cross-section of characters, one that would reflect “a comprehensive group of Americans, people from all walks of life, hardscrabble people making their own way and writing their own ticket.” The idea wasn’t to just tell the ‘Wikipedia’ point-bypoint history, he says. “This was an attempt to get inside the heads of these people, get to know these people we only knew for their basketball accomplishments on a human level, with complexity you can relate to on a level that’s beyond their superhuman accomplishments.” The scripts were good enough to attract strong actors who turned in standout performances, starting with John C. Reilly as Buss. He and his mother (played by Sally Field) were dirt poor, and although he became a self-made real estate titan, Buss traded that in to own a team and often could barely make payroll. Reilly connected to Buss’ outsider status, as the Chicago-born actor had himself slowly worked his way up to the A-list in comedies and dramas, despite not having classical leading man looks. Jason Clarke brings to life the Lakers great and team consultant Jerry West as a tightly-coiled competitor who couldn’t enjoy looking at his championship ring because it reminded him of all the times his Lakers lost to the Celtics during Boston’s dynasty years. While known as the model-handsome Armani-clad head coach who won nine NBA titles—five with the Lakers—Adrien Brody’s Pat Riley is a mustache-wearing, shaggy-haired gym rat desperate to hang onto some part of a life in basketball. There are tragic figures, too: Jack McKinney (played by Tracy Letts), a lifer assistant who finally got a head coaching job with the Lakers and architected the ‘Showtime’ Lakers offensive attack, was on the way to becoming a coaching champ, until a freak fall from a bicycle nearly killed him and did kill his dream, leaving Riley and McKinney’s longtime assistant and Shakespeare professor Paul Westhead ( Jason Segel) to pick up the pieces. And Spencer Haywood, touchingly played by Wood Harris. A journeyman ostracized for his legal challenge to the rule that shackled young players to play free for colleges instead of turning pro, Haywood finally had his chance at championship glory, but could not overcome his addiction to crack cocaine. He was cut by Westhead

John C. Reilly as the LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss.


going into the playoffs and in his addicted state, set up the coach to be murdered. Add actors Hadley Robinson and Gaby Hoffmann, whose Jeanie Buss and Claire Rothman fought against rampant sexism to become franchise leaders. Though teeming with good ideas, Buss (who now runs the team) was overlooked by her father, who favored his sons as his heirs apparent though they had no role with the team. It was one of many contradictions of Jerry Buss, who walked around with a preposterous comb-over, shirt unbuttoned to his naval, and a barely legal woman on his arm. And yet it was also Buss who recognized the talents of Claire Rothman—who’d served as a punching bag for previous owner Jack Kent Cooke— and made her treasurer of the team. Then there are the Laker players, and the young actors who play them. They are led by Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but especially Quincy Isaiah. The series is anchored by his portrayal of a young Magic Johnson, who arrives in Los Angeles as a handsome generational talent blessed with charisma, turned loose and taking full advantage of the womanizing and decadence his teammates indulged in. But also transforming his team’s play with deft ball handling and no-look passes. His charisma motivated sulky star Abdul-Jabbar to raise his Hall of Fame game and Johnson transformed from a rookie and into the leader of the Showtime Lakers by season’s end. Filling Johnson’s Converse shoes was no small task, and producers undertook many auditions to find just the right actor. Hailing from Michigan like Johnson, Isaiah’s path to LA lacked the fanfare that surrounded the player. Isaiah spent two years of futility auditioning close to 2,000 times for roles while holding down jobs that included bartending. Slowly dying of discouragement over roles that went to others, he mulled a detour into the military to get himself some seasoning and life experience, then the ‘yes’ he got for Winning Time, his first starring role, made his dream come true. “I am in London right now and just got recognized, which is insane to me, because I’m just a kid from a small city in Michigan,” he says. “One of the people in our crew told me about his mom and how she was going through a rough patch and had watched the show and my performance. I don’t know how or why, but she said watching every Sunday helped her out a lot. I am new, so I have a hard time understanding that my work could do stuff like that. But it changed my perception of how this work can touch people. It meant a lot to me.” The writers got creative with the facts in some places. For example, Borenstein was especially touched by ex-Laker Spencer Haywood, who has now turned his life around and motivates others to not give in to the despair of terrible childhood memories and drug addiction. In the book, it’s Haywood’s mother who spoke to her son on the phone, understood he was in a desperate place, and threatened to send police if he didn’t stop

“It changed my perception of how this work can touch people. It meant a lot to me.”

Top to bottom: Sally Field with Reilly; Reilly and Quincy Isaiah.

what he was planning. In the show, Borenstein and cohorts had Abdul-Jabbar confront his ex-teammate and friend, in a most touching encounter. “It is a good example of how we’d take a little bit of creative license, to get at an emotional truth,” Borenstein says. “Spencer Haywood has been just so vocal and so supportive of the show, and it is incredibly heartening because he’s depicted when he was going through a really dark time in his life. He has been a big fan of the show.” According to Borenstein, Haywood had told a story about being at an NBA 75th anniversary event. He was near Magic and Kareem—guys of his generation who were better remembered than him. Then, some players from today’s generation, including LeBron James and Steph Curry, came up and Haywood assumed they would want to talk to those other more famous names. But they actually sought him out and thanked him. “They had watched the show and it made them aware how instrumental he was, with the Haywood rule in the fight that allowed these guys to make the jump directly from high school or without finishing the two years of college,” Borenstein says. “It was impactful for him, which is wonderful and deserved that he now has a profile he hadn’t for years. And I think he appreciates the way his story was told, not to exploit, but rather to reveal the way that his addiction was tied to the trauma of his childhood. It was a moment in his life, and nowadays he speaks about recovery, and he has become an incredibly inspiring figure to a lot of people. You can’t tell that story of inspiration without also showing where it came from.”

— Quincy Isaiah

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Rafael Casal Jasmine Cephas Jones Helen Hunt Daveed Diggs BLI N DSPOT TI NG

Laura Linney • Chris Mundy OZARK

Portrait Gallery / Drama Over two days at Paramount Studios, the cream of the Drama crop gathered for Deadline's flagship celebration of TV.

Photographs by MICHAEL BUCKNER


Park Hae-soo SQUID GAME


Portrait Gallery / Drama

Viola Davis T H E FI RST L A DY

JD Pardo Elgin James Carla Baratta Clayton Cardenas Sarah Bolger M AYA N S M . C .


Christian Slater • Joshua Jackson • Maggie Kiley • Patrick Macmanus Imogen Poots Josh Brolin

D R . D E AT H

OUTER RANGE

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Tawny Cypress Melanie Lynskey Y E L LO WJ AC K E T S

Britt Lower Ben Stiller Patricia Arquette SEVERANCE


Daniel Dae Kim • Tony Goldwyn TH E HOT ZON E: ANTH R A X

Samuel L. Jackson T H E L A S T D AY S O F P T O L E M Y G R E Y

Octavia Spencer • Ron Cephas Jones TRUTH BE TOLD

Naveen Andrews THE DROPOUT

Luke Grimes • Jefferson White Y ELLOWSTO N E

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Portrait Gallery / Drama Michael Keaton • Kaitlyn Dever • Danny Strong

Sam Elliott • Tim McGraw • Isabel May • Faith Hill • LaMonica Garrett

DOPESICK

Giancarlo Esposito • Peter Gould • Jonathan Banks • Bob Odenkirk • Rhea Seehorn BETTER CALL SAUL

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Giovanni Ribisi • Nikki Toscano • Miles Teller THE OFFER


Rosario Dawson DMZ

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Portrait Gallery / Drama Winona Ryder STRANGER THINGS

Jared Leto WE CRASHED

Rasheed Newson • Cassandra Freeman • Jabari Banks• Morgan Cooper B E L- A I R


Quincy Isaiah John C. Reilly

Sydney Sweeney • Connie Britton • Alexandra Daddario • Murray Bartlett T H E W H IT E LOT U S

WINNING TIME

Sebastian Stan • Lily James • Seth Rogen PAM & TOM MY

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Portrait Gallery / Drama Jin Ha PACH I N KO

Damson Idris S N OW FA LL

Patrick Stewart S TA R T R E K : P I C A R D

Adrienne Warren WOMEN OF THE MOVEMENT

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Ben Foster Barry Levinson THE SURVIVOR

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AP P LE T V+

Living Living Living Living

Jin Ha as Solomon Baek in Pachinko.

Fo Fo Fo Fo


Photogrpahed exclusively for Deadline by Josh Telles

Apple TV+'s inventive adaptation of Min Jin Lee's beloved 2017 novel Pachinko ushers in a new era of multigenerational storytelling that leaves viewers pining for their family roots, finds Alexandra Del Rosario.

or Today or or Today or Today


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achinko’s journey from page to screen began in 2017 on a plane ride from London to New York. The transatlantic flight was a typical commute for Soo Hugh, who at the time served as executive producer and co-showrunner on the first season of AMC’s The Terror. Nearly seven hours in the air provided an opportunity for Hugh to finally— though somewhat hesitantly—dig into Min Jin Lee’s recently released New York Times bestseller. Theresa Kang-Lowe, Hugh’s former agent and friend, had sent it her way. “I felt very ambivalent about reading it just because I knew it was going to be very personal,” Hugh says. “I knew that it was going to be this beautiful story and I also was just finishing up another big international show, so I was in a very particular headspace at that time.” While fellow passengers scrolled through in-flight entertainment options and shifted in their seats to find optimal nap positions, Hugh immersed herself in the life of a young Korean woman in a rural fishing village on the coast of Busan, South Korea, during the era of Japanese colonial rule from 1910 to 1945. As she flipped from chapter to chapter, Hugh encountered Lee’s meticulously crafted words about protagonist Sunja’s boarding house duties, laundry routines and her secret love affair with a mysterious fish broker. From Lee’s specific descriptions of adolescence, maternity and Korean customs, Hugh says she connected “on an internal core level” to Sunja, despite her own vastly different experiences as a Maryland-raised Korean American television writer. “I was really jolted by that shock of recognition. I wasn’t expecting it to be that visceral,” she recalls. Several hours and scores of emotional pages later, a bowl of white rice brought Hugh to tears. In the book, Sunja’s mother Yangjin pleads to a merchant for a measly amount of white rice to celebrate her daughter’s sudden marriage. At the time, the Asian cuisine staple was incredibly scarce and reserved only for the Japanese and elites. A satisfying bowl of immaculate and steaming rice can certainly beget a powerful reaction. But in the matriarch’s desperation to provide anything and everything to her child, Hugh saw her mother, her grandmother, and all those who came before her. But even despite that familiarity, Pachinko wasn’t a story Hugh felt she could adapt for television. At least not in its original structure. “I just didn’t see that show as one that I thought I could tell linearly, and so I was like, ‘I love the book, I’m going to put it away, I’m not the right person for it,’” she says. Then came Hugh’s “eureka moment”, one that would remix Lee’s sprawling novel for the television format. Inspired by the time-skipping, country-hopping elements of The Godfather Part II, Hugh decided to follow not just one generation of the book’s central family, but two—putting Sunja’s coming of age in direct conversation with that of her grandson, Solomon. A non-linear approach presented a stage where Hugh could show how themes like home and identity—and the lack thereof—played out across past and present generations. How the choices of yesterday molded the privileges of today. “What if this was a story about generations and specifically following generational trauma from one generation to the next, and creating a conversation about that?” Hugh asked herself. “Sunja’s life becomes the foundation, but upon that foundation you build this pretty amazing narrative structure.” Confident with her newfound approach to Pachinko, Hugh, with Media Res’s Michael Ellenberg and Lindsey Springer and Kang-Lowe’s Blue Marble

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banner, began her search for a platform. With multiple buyers throwing their hats in the ring, Hugh knew she and her team had something special in the works. However, that spark in connection didn’t quite click until she sat down with Apple TV+ and Michelle Lee, the streamer’s director of domestic programming. It was “electricity in the air” when the two finally connected. As Hugh recalls, the pitch meeting didn’t feel like one at all. What started off as Hugh’s attempt to convince Lee and her team to bring the trilingual immigrant story about a Korean family to TV, evolved into an emotional release for both sides. Perhaps it was that “shock of recognition” again. “At one point very early on in the pitch I was watching [Lee] and I saw her tearing up, and then the minute I see her tear up I’m starting to lose it a little bit,” Hugh recalls. “That was a lot. I had to stop looking at her because my voice was shaking so much, and I just had to look at the spot on the wall behind her.” She continues: “I just don’t think I’ll ever forget that pitch. It didn’t feel at all like I was trying to sell something at that moment. It felt like I was really having this very human connection with someone.” From then on it was a done deal. By August 2018, the news broke that Apple would adapt the bestseller with Hugh at the helm. Less than a year later in March 2019, the streamer ordered the series. Author Lee was initially slated as an executive producer early in the process, but eventually dropped out of the project. She “just wasn’t creatively involved”, Hugh explains. Nevertheless, Hugh marched forward with a distributor and a new vision on her side. She assembled her writers’ room, populated with some scribes who tapped into their own immigrant stories, and sought out the aid and talents of directors Kogonada (After Yang) and Justin Chon (Blue Bayou) to help bring her multi-generational conversation to life. Then came the task of casting nearly 600 roles for Pachinko. Naturally, a series that concerned itself with multiple countries and numerous generations required a large enough lineup to fit time and space.

In a Yeongdo fish market, merchants and fishers display their freshest catches—eel, squid and abalone—while hollering their best prices. All the commotion comes to a sudden halt when two Japanese officials walk through the aisle, prompting nearly everyone to bow their heads in respect—except for one young woman who stands unfazed and unimpressed by their presence. This is the first time that audiences meet the teenage Sunja, and through her, fresh-faced newcomer Minha Kim. Wearing a stainless, traditional hanbok, Kim’s Sunja seems to float through the fish market, magnetizing the audience and her eventual love interest Koh Hansu alike. Kim, whose credits included Korean indies and the series School 2017, graduated from the Hanyang University’s Department of Theater and Film in early 2020. She was supposed to move to New York to kick start her stage career in the U.S. and enrolled in courses at the New York Film Academy, but life and the pandemic had other plans. Still experiencing the aimlessness all too common among recent grads, the Korean actress said she was searching for a great story to take on. Luckily a casting director had just the thing for Kim, who had neither a manager nor an agent in her corner at the time. “Pachinko is totally a gift for me,” Kim says. After learning about the project, Kim sped through Lee’s book overnight and sent in her self-tape. Hugh was initially cynical when the casting director first claimed she found the perfect fit. She had heard that line before. But after a worldwide search with a number of “extraordinary actresses”, callbacks and conversations, it was clear to Hugh and her team that Kim had cracked the Sunja code. “You just got sucked in. There was something, everything we wanted. Timeless and yet specific. Innocent yet wise. Real and authentic,” Hugh recalls of Kim’s audition tape. “It was there from the very beginning.” Throughout the series, Kim stretches her abilities to embody the joyous highs and devastating lows of Sunja’s coming of age. She stands tall in


Clockwise from left: Ji Hye Lee is a singer who meets a tragic end; Lee Minho as powerful fish broker Koh Hansu with Jae Jun Park as Noa, Hansu's son with Sunja; Yuh-jung Youn as the older Sunja; Minho as Hansu with Minha Kim as the young Sunja.

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Top to bottom: Jin Ha as businessman Solomon in 1980s Japan; Minho's Hansu survives an earthquake while living in Japan; Kim as Sunja with Steve Sanghyun Noh as her pastor husband Isak.

her silent defiance against the Japanese in the fish market. She shrinks in heartache and tears when she reveals her accidental pregnancy to her on-screen mother Inji Jeong. While seemingly effortless in her portrayal of the series’ central matriarch, Kim’s work wasn’t without rigorous research. Like the creatives behind Pachinko, Kim engaged with numerous historical resources to better comprehend the geopolitical and social conditions surrounding Sunja during the late 1920s. Books and documentaries on the subject supplemented her school knowledge. Kim also looked to novels written during the turbulent era to fill in the gaps of fact with humanity and emotion. Her most valuable resource, however, was one she had known since birth. Kim grew up hearing her grandmother, who had remained in Korea throughout the Japanese occupation and World War II, speak about her own experiences. Her grandmother’s stories of survival often filled the silence at various family gatherings. But Pachinko offered a rare opportunity for Kim to dig even deeper into her own family’s history. “We talked for a few days and every time I heard a story from her, I couldn’t stop crying,” Kim recalls. “It was an intense conversation, and I can feel the intimacy between my grandmother and me. It was so precious.” Kim cross-examined the facts she came across in historical journals and documentaries with her inherited primary source. “‘Is that true? Did you really do that?’ And she said, ‘Obviously, it was worse than that.’” From Kim’s own time with her grandmother came a character in which viewers could identify their own mothers, family members and themselves. Back in the Yeongdo fish market, K-drama heartthrob Lee Minho makes his debut as the respected, or feared, Koh Hansu, an older Korean businessman with his own traumas and connections to Japanese elites. Lee found himself doing something that he hadn’t done in nearly a decade: auditioning for a part. The audition process isn’t the most common practice in the Korean entertainment scene, and even less so for stars like the Boys Over Flowers breakout. But he was game. “He’s like, ‘This is new for me, let’s try,’” Soo remembers of Lee’s audition. “Minho’s just one of those people that really thrives on challenges. He just likes always trying new things, so this was new for him. He’s like, ‘Interesting, let’s see how this process works.’” A self-proclaimed “big fan” of the hit high school series Boys Over Flowers, Kim says she felt an immediate “great power” from her co-star during the chemistry audition. “He has such powerful eyes. Whenever I look at his eyes, I get energy from his eyes,” Kim notes.

A longing gaze in the fish market is what sets off the series’ central romance and Sunja’s complicated multi-national journey. Kim views Lee’s Hansu as an encyclopedia of sorts for her character. After their initial encounter in the fish market, Sunja and Hansu grow close. He explains what the world has to offer outside of her small fishing village—abundant electricity, sweet oranges and candies. On a riverbed boulder, Hansu roughly charts a map of the world for Sunja, including Japan and the United States, nations Sunja and her descendants will eventually attempt to call home as ‘Zainichi’—ethnic Koreans who migrated to Japan under colonial rule, and their descendants. Several decades after the Japanese occupation of Korea and World War II, a 74-year-old Sunja flies first class from Osaka back to the Busan shores of her childhood. She runs from her taxi to the water. As she revels in the feeling of the sea’s welcoming, wet embraces, rain begins to pour. Droplets become indistinguishable from her tears of joy. This moment could not have been more frustrating for Oscar winner Yuh-jung Youn. “I tried to put all the emotion over there, and then all of a sudden, they start pouring the rain,” Youn says. “I couldn’t act. I was upset with [director] Justin [Chon]. Sunset was just going down very fast, so I was just frustrated.” Fresh off her Oscar-winning turn as the uncouth Grandmother Soonja

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"What if this was a story about generations and specifically following generational trauma from one generation to the next, and creating a conversation about that?" Soo Hugh



in Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, Youn says she felt an “immediate connection to Sunja”. Convincing the Korean acting vet, whose career spans more than 50 years and titles, including Dear My Friends and Lucky Chan-Sil, to take on another matriarch was no issue. Getting her to audition, however, was another story. According to Hugh, Youn “rightfully so” rejected the request to try out. Youn, an icon in her own right, said auditioning for the Pachinko role held a certain weight for her career. “I told [Hugh and Kogonada], ‘I understand your culture, but in Korea, everybody knows me. If I fail, they will think I failed, even if I’m not suitable for that role,’” Youn explains. “If I audition for that role, and then if I fail, rumor will get all over the country. ‘Oh, Yuh-jung Youn failed that role.’ I didn’t want to have that reputation. I didn’t want to ruin my 50-year career with one audition.” What followed were conversations between Hugh, Kogonada and the star. Youn, born in North Korea shortly after the Japanese occupation, spoke about her personal connections with the character. She said her mother, like Sunja, lived through the Korean War, Japanese occupation and World War II. Born in 1947, Youn said she also experienced some of Korea’s turbulent history herself. She knew that she could play this role better than anybody. After conversations with the actress, that also became evident to Hugh and Kogonada, who directed four episodes including the pilot. While her mother’s experiences of perseverance did not precisely match those of Sunja’s, Youn says her family history informed and nourished her performance as the Baek family matriarch: “It’s all in my body and in my thoughts.” The same goes for her own experiences as a single mother to two boys. While she didn’t have to sell kimchi in a foreign land to make a living like Sunja, Youn took up any opportunity to provide for her children following her divorce. “I’d just get any job, any role. Maybe if they asked me to audition at the time, of course, I would do the audition,” she laughs. In Pachinko, Sunja’s sacrifice and need to provide extends well into the ’80s to her grandson Solomon, portrayed by Love Life and Devs alum Jin Ha. A prestigious university graduate with a well-paying and seemingly stable career, Solomon can easily represent what many immigrants hope for in their future generations. The unspoken pressure to succeed after multiple eras of sacrifice, however, only grows more complex with his family’s geographical displacement and historical discrimination. Minha Kim Throughout the series, Solomon attempts to persuade a reluctant Zainichi Korean landowner to sell the only home she’s known since the colonial era to impress his boss in Japan, who himself questions where the young financier’s internal loyalties lie. “He’s already juggling so many different sides of himself,” says Ha, who is Korean American. “Whether it’s interacting with his Zainichi family in Osaka—what that means in terms of straddling the two cultures and histories there within himself—or if it’s him existing in spaces in Tokyo as a Zainichi person, and then, on top of that is his experience in America as an Asian American. The specifics of his Zainichi identity… it’s not a welcome or understood nuance. It reproduces itself into something else that’s not found in Japan or Korea.” Some of the series’ most obvious departures from the original novel lay within Solomon. Using the character’s 50 pages as a starting point, Ha worked closely with Hugh to further flesh out his character’s various arcs, from his professional pursuits to his final moments with ex-girlfriend Hana.

As Hugh says, “Solomon is our clay… let’s take that scalpel, and we’re going to form a human being.” Ha recalls that Solomon posed a peculiar challenge for Hugh, perhaps because he “demanded a sort of self-reflection that maybe she didn’t have to go through with a lot of the other characters”. “We were working on this character together like we were two actors working on the same role. The conversations felt that easy and that personal too,” Ha says. “It was a lot of the traumas in our own life or the experiences in our life that resonate with Solomon’s character and therefore we can try to understand where he’s coming from.” From expressing the complexities of Solomon’s identity to building some of his story from scratch, Ha says that he felt his Pachinko character was “certainly the biggest and most challenging role” of his career yet. To make the character even more of a challenge, Ha had to speak in three languages: Korean, English and Japanese. He was fluent in the first two coming into the role but received assistance from a team of translators and dialect coaches for the latter, once cast. Pachinko presents audiences with color-coded subtitles—yellow for Korean dialogue and blue for Japanese. Each character interaction, across nations and eras, presents a unique set of subtitle combinations. Heart-wrenching dialogue between a teenage Sunja and her mother is entirely yellow. Solomon’s promises to boss Abe-san flash blue. But conversations between Solomon and his father Mozasu (Soji Arai) can often display both, to indicate switching between the two languages. For Hugh, featuring all three languages—each with various dialects and accents—was essential. “[Without the languages] I think you have no idea what it means to lose your home and then go to a country that’s not yours,” she says. “I think you have no idea what it means to speak from one generation to another and not be able to speak fully with them just because your language isn’t there. All of our big themes would have fallen completely flat.”

"Whenever I get people telling me that, 'You remind me of my grandmother,' I'm speechless because even though I'm not Sunja in real life, I get the chance to give them courage."

Engaging performances by devoted actors and linguistic authenticity are just two parts to the equation behind Pachinko. A massive, transnational saga also required transporting audiences through history and across country lines. The season’s eight episodes take viewers from from a humble boarding house in Yeongdo, to the dimly-lit and grimy streets of Ikaino, Osaka; to the site of the devastating Great Kantō earthquake and to the geometric finance offices where Solomon seeks to prove his worth. Production, which began in October 2020, brought Pachinko’s cast and crew to Korea and Vancouver. The series was supposed to also film in Japan, but pandemic restrictions put a wrench in the initial plans. Nevertheless, production designer Mara LePere-Schloop and her team worked to place and recreate the scaffolds and silhouettes of the past. Like the stars’ performances themselves, building out the world of Pachinko required deep research into various eras of architecture, geography and more. The designers, with teams based in Korea, Japan and the U.S., consulted a variety of resources including rare photographs to build their historically accurate visions. The result are environments that help the performers, like Kim, immerse themselves into their respective decades. “I couldn’t shut my mouth. I was just taking photos of [the sets] secretly,” Kim says. “Mara and [prop master] Ellen [Freund], I would always tell them

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An Eye on the Future How Pachinko’s Soo Hugh, Minha Kim & Jin Ha see the show’s upcoming second season

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pple TV+ will be diving back into the multi-generational world of Sunja, Solomon and more with Pachinko Season 2 already in the works. Pachinko focused on the early life of Sunja as she moves from Korea to Japan, and her grandson Solomon’s unrelenting efforts to close a

will center on young Sunja (Kim), who was last seen in 1938 selling kimchi to provide for her two sons following her husband Isak’s arrest. Hugh says the upcoming season, after a “little bit of a time jump” will also focus on the family’s second generation: a young Mozasu and older brother Noah. The two children

a bittersweet death, a heart-wrenching arrest and a key character’s return, Pachinko sets the stage for an even more dramatic and history-packed Season 2. “We do get to World War II in Season 2,” shares series creator and showrunner Soo Hugh. Of course, the series’ World War II arc

details about their childhood remained largely unexplored. Kim shares that Sunja, now her family’s main breadwinner, will “become stronger, even though there are so many burdens on her shoulders.” “It’s about the story of her, continued from Season 1… even heavier, but still, there’s joy,” she teases. “Still, there’s joy.”

‘Thank you so much for making these fascinating sets. It helps me so much.’” Set against a meticulously constructed recreation of an Osaka train station, is one of the most significant scenes in both the book and series. Sunja, now a mother of two sons, maneuvers a wood cart stocked with kimchi. Onlookers, both Korean and Japanese, sneer at her fermented cabbages, fearful that the dish’s trademark smell will drive away business. Now the primary breadwinner following her husband’s arrest, Sunja taps into the business savvy and persuasion of her hometown fisherman to convince passersby to sample, and purchase, her kimchi. “Best kimchi in the world! My mother’s special recipe,” she touts. “This is my country’s food!” One of the final frames of the season, the kimchi scene—with a standout performance by Kim, decade-defining sets from LePere-Schloop and even era-appropriate cabbage sizes curated by Freund—is a definite culmination of the many layers of intentionality and dedication from across the Pachinko team. While a series that seeks to dazzle with star power, size and scale, at its core Pachinko is a tribute to a community whose stories haven’t had much time in the spotlight. With its season finale, Pachinko brings the fictional tale back to its roots by featuring the testimonies of real-life Sunjas: Zainichi Korean elders. Filmed in Japan during the pandemic, the intimate conversations see the women—who range from 85 to 100 years old—reminisce on loss, hunger, and the challenges of assimilation. But while flipping through scrapbooks filled with black-and-white family photos, the women also reflect on the lives they’ve made for their families, despite the history that they’ve come to accept, not resent. The testimonies were initially slated to come at the end of what Hugh imagined as a four-season journey. But unsure whether Pachinko would even make it to Season 2, Hugh says she “started to feel this sense of urgency. Who knows how much longer these women will be with us?” She continues: “[Pachinko] was built on the backs of real people who lived. These lives really did have this kind of trajectory and we really wanted to make that as powerful as possible. These women, for so long they didn’t think their stories were at all worthy to be told, and the lives of all those women are anything but boring. They’re extraordinary.”

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At the end of Season 1, Kim’s Sunja wasn’t the only character resorting to desperate measures. Pachinko last sees Jin Ha’s Solomon striking a deal with Mamoru Yoshii, a seedy, yet powerful Japanese businessman. With this newly formed alliance, Ha says he can only imagine that part” of Solmon’s Season 2 arc, which will be “completely new” and separate from the original source material. “I think we are seeing him question his preconceived notions of what success looked like when we meet him at the beginning of the season, and I’m rooting idea of success,” Ha says. “But I leave it to the skilled brains of the writers and Soo.”

Confronting the past—by having intimate conversations with our elders, flipping through history books or embodying those who came before us—is what molds identity and keeps the often private, personal stories of survival and love from slipping between the cracks of the monumental. Exposing the experiences like those of her mother to educate younger generations like her sons’, was Youn’s mission for Sunja. “You need to learn the history, and why we are who we are today,” she insists. Sunja’s story may be one among millions of migrants, but it’s one that hits home for viewers across ethnicity, nationality and age. The evidence? The viewers who have sent Kim Sunja-themed gifts and expressed that they felt seen in her performances. “Whenever I got their reactions, I feel like I’m alive,” she recalls of one fan event held at an Apple Store in Korea. “This is my responsibility as an actress and as a storyteller. This is my job. I feel so proud of my job. Whenever I get people telling me that, ‘You remind me of my grandmother,’ I’m speechless because even though I’m not Sunja in real life, I get the chance to give them courage, which I get a lot of courage from other actors and actresses. It’s like the vice versa. It’s so mutual.” Facing similar interactions was Ha, who recently had a ride-share driver tell how Pachinko has educated her on the Zainichi experience and Korea’s history. With moments like that, Ha says, he “couldn’t ask for anything more in my heart”. Pachinko has clearly created conversations about family and helped renew interest in Korea’s past, but even just on paper, the series is a welcome and sophisticated addition to the ever-growing American television landscape. As Hugh notes, a show like Pachinko—with its predominantly Asian cast told in three languages centering on a minority of the Asian diaspora—would not have been possible even five years ago. But in 2022, Pachinko is a reality and is nothing short of “groundbreaking”, notes Ha. “We live in a world of superlatives and hyperbole, but I think ‘groundbreaking’ is actually accurate. There have been other American-produced shows that have featured multiple languages, but I don’t think at this scale and certainly not these languages. How much it centers, and focuses almost entirely on, Korean and Japanese and Zainichi characters… I don’t think we’ve seen that before, especially from our own perspective. It’s about us. It’s for us.”


"How much it centers, and focuses almost entirely on, Korean and Japanese and Zainichi characters, I don't think we've seen that before, especially from our own perspective." Jin Ha


By Lynette Rice

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Kelly Reilly

Christine Baranski

Zendaya

Melanie Lynskey

Admit it, Emmy voters, there’s a very slim chance you’ll have enough time to binge all the broadcast, cable and streaming this season. Yellowjackets The Gilded Age and Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty before moving back to something dark and heavy like Euphoria. some assistance: over the next three pages,

last year. Our recommendations should never serve as a substitute for a good binge session; attending a Christine Baranski masterclass.

The Leading Ladies If you’ve yet to check out Yellowjackets, The Gilded Age, Yellowstone and Euphoria, allow us to provide you with four good reasons to rethink your bingeing schedule: Melanie Lynskey, Carrie Coon, Kelly Reilly and Zendaya. As an unhappy homemaker named Shauna, Lynskey is

Dutton plays an irresistible, man-eating businesswoman, and Zendaya is the prescription-drug popping Gen Z-er who cannot be ignored. Together, these four actresses offer an important reminder when it comes to making great drama for television: If you want something done right, ask a woman.

The Masters with a steely edge. Coon, as new-money socialite Bertha, is typically excellent as a singularly focused social climber. Reilly’s Beth

The USC School of Cinematic Arts should start a class called ‘How to Make it Look Easy’ and

check on the availability of Christine Baranski and Giancarlo Esposito as adjunct professors. As the star of The Good Fight, Baranski’s ax-throwing, Donald Trump-loathing, Kurt McVeigh-loving Diane Lockhart is the primary reason why the Robert and Michelle King legal drama makes it into critics’ top 10 lists year after year. And for the love of baby Yoda, what villain hasn’t Esposito played? When he wasn’t appearing as the menacing Moff Gideon in The Mandalorian over the last year,


Nicola Coughlan Josh Charles Gil Birmingham

Giancarlo Esposito

Andrea Martin

he was wrapping up his role as drug kingpin Gustavo Fring on Better Call Saul while reprising his part as the antagonistic Stan Edgar on The Boys. Come to think of it, forget about the USC class. Maybe just give these two seriously overdue actors an Emmy, for crying out loud.

The Prizewinner Sterling K. Brown will that he doesn’t deserve more trophies for his role as Randall Pearson on This Is Us. In fact, the four-time Emmy winner—two of which were earned for his

the Emmy-starved Mandy co-star—who played his mom despite being eight years younger—there’s just and the way he commanded our attention for six hanky-soaking seasons. As the brother we wished we had and the husband that most women can only true force of nature in the way he made us feel and got us to laugh. The voters had it right all along; if anyone on the show deserved to be just sick with Emmys,

The Journeyman drama—recently posted a heartfelt message on Instagram that implored Emmy voters to recognize

Perhaps it’s better to start by asking what veteran actor Gil Birmingham hasn’t

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known to the younger Twilight saga, ever these days, thanks to the ease with which he plays a stalwart leader or hardened law dog. In Yellowstone, he’s Thomas Rainwater—the vigilant

questions like, “How do they do that?” more than the married-writing teams of Michelle and Robert King (The Good Fight; Evil) and Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (Yellowjackets). Let’s be serious here: does anyone really think they can work effectively with one’s

to do it, we’d fall apart.”

The Life of the Party John C. Reilly always looks like he’s having the time of his life. Whether playing a blockheaded countryrocker who becomes a huge star, or a dimwit race car driver named

clearly clicks for the Kings Indian Reservation. In Under the Banner of Heaven, he plays a gruff detective

catch a Mormon killer. And in Pieces of Her, he’s a thoughtful agent with the witness protection program who aids Toni Collette’s Laura.

The Dynamic Duos

the former team is responsible for some of the most critically-acclaimed shows on television (not to mention the most egregiously overlooked at Emmy time), while the latter is behind this season’s biggest breakout. Maybe it’s high time that more wannabe hitmakers steal a page from these four. “We really share one brain,” a wry Robert King says. “If one of us had

a maestro at digging up roles that showcase his most valuable instrument: the ability to make people smile. Granted, Winning Time: The Rise of the Laker Dynasty is not a parody like some of Reilly’s other laugh at—and love—Reilly’s crackerjack depiction businessman disguised as a frolicsome man-child. Winning Time’s


Lee Jung-jae Adam Scott

Rick Glassman

Albert Rutecki Sue Ann Pien

Carrie Coon

executive producer Adam McKay, who directed Talladega Nights, was eager to play ball again with Reilly.

The Breakouts Among all the great performances of 2021, two are big stand-outs for us: Lee Jung-jae’s tour-deforce role as a down-onhis-luck gambler in Squid Game, and Nicola Coughlan’s delightful turn as Penelope Featheringtoncum-Lady Whistledown in Bridgerton. South Koreans able that their beloved Jung-jae is considered a hot new thing in the U.S.— he’s one of the country’s biggest stars thanks to Deliver Us from Evil and the Along With the Gods franchise. That’s

OK; we own our naivete and welcome Jung-jae into Hollywood’s A-list. As for where have you been all of our lives? Working regularly in Europe, it seems, where she continuously brings the house down for comedy Derry Girls. Lucky for us, both actors have signed up for new seasons of Squid Game and Bridgerton, respectively.

The Groundbreakers With inclusivity efforts at an all-time high in the industry, As We See It represents a big step for neurodiversity. Based on an Israeli format, the Amazon Prime comedy from the Jason Katims features three actors on the

spectrum who play autistic young adults struggling to navigate the world. There’s Jack (Rick Glassman), a whip-smart web designer who can’t pay his bills; Violet (Sue Ann Pien), who is aching for a boyfriend; and Harrison (Albert Rutecki), a hypersensitive love bug who can barely tolerate a barking dog. The trio are tended to by Mandy (Sosie Bacon), a home healthcare aid with a big heart. Though it’s next to impossible to fully capture the true complexities of autism, Katims—who has a son on the spectrum—does his admirable best in this true labor of love.

we knew Adam Scott as a lovable nerd who captured Leslie Knope’s heart on Parks and Recreation. And until he had us on the edge of our seats with HBO’s We Own This City, Josh Charles played the sexy Will Gardner who stole Alicia’s heart on The Good Wife. So much for sticking with what they know: Scott is mesmerizing as an everyman who works for a company that offers to surgically separate work memories from personal

The Chameleons

Together, these actors make a potent argument for getting out of one’s comfort zone.

Before we discovered Severance on Apple TV,

Daniel Hersl, an unscrupulous cop in Baltimore who takes casual glee in beating up the not-so-

The Legend Andrea Martin has brought the funny to practically everything, from her careermaking role as Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding to playing Briga Heelan’s overprotective mom in Tracey Great News. So, it was more than a little surprising—but no less welcome—to see the her cast as Sister Andrea in Evil, the Paramount+ freakfest from Robert and Michelle King. The diminutive nun who councils Mike pillar of strength (note the way she stabbed a bat-devil

it’s no wonder the Kings upped her to series regular in Season 3.


why I was doing this, and they explained I would need it when I was older and playing Rebecca [Mandy Moore]'s husband. I thought they had me confused with Milo Ventimiglia because he was her husband, but they quickly corrected me, “No, Miguel will be married to Rebecca.” I had no idea. Dan later explained this was going to be a huge twist: Rebecca marries her husband’s best friend. I asked them immediately, “How are people going to react to this?” They reacted just as expected, they thought horrible things about him for a long time. As the show got more popular, they upgraded me to series regular, and the rest is history.

Jon

H U E RTA S

From the ashes of Castle came big acting and directing success with This Is Us BY ROSY CORDERO

Jon Huertas was in Puerto Rico when he learned that he was suddenly unemployed—the series he starred in, Castle, had just been canceled by ABC after eight seasons. As a seasoned actor, he knew this was par for the course. But little did he know that what was coming up next for him would change his life and his career. Huertas went on to land the role of Miguel Rivas on the NBC hit This Is Us across the show’s six seasons, and through that new opportunity, was able to make his dream of becoming a director a reality. What was the audition process like to get the role of Miguel in This Is Us? When I came home from Puerto Rico, I auditioned for potential roles

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in Ozark, One Day at a Time and This Is Us. The casting directors for This Is Us loved me for the role of Mike, who later became Miguel. I met with [creator] Dan Fogelman and his

team at Paramount for a chemistry read and I remember thinking I was the token choice because the character was originally written as a white guy. So, I thought that made me the person who auditions so they can say, “Oh, we tried someone diverse and it didn’t work.” It was like that scene in the “Miguel” episode when he goes in for the job interview. We recreated that scene from my audition for the episode. I left Paramount and about 15 minutes later I got the call that I landed a recurring role on the show as Jack [Milo Ventimiglia]'s best friend. Did you always know how important Miguel would be to the show's story? A week after my casting, I was asked to go to the Valley to get a lifecast made, which is when they use silicon and plaster to make a reproduction of your head. I asked

Were you involved in the evolution of Miguel? When I was cast, Miguel was this raw piece of clay. The producers invited me to sit with them each season to help mold him. What I loved most about working on this show is that they allowed me to collaborate on his evolution. I’m proud of how we shaped Miguel into this very successful character with a unique background and story. We slowly planted little seeds about the man Miguel was across each season. That culminated in the “Miguel” episode, that was born from the conversations we had each season. You made your directorial debut in the Season 5 episode “The Ride”. Is directing something you always wanted to do? I wanted to direct since I was on Castle. [This Is Us EP] Ken Olin somehow got wind that I wanted to


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direct. He sat me down in Season 1 and told me he was going to get me in the director’s chair at some point. The show was such a success that everyone wanted to direct the show rectors. I had to bide my time while these amazing creatives had their chance. Then my turn came around. It was really a dream come true. This was the best way for me to rector’s chair because I already had a talented cast and crew supporting me, and who trusted me. You learn very quickly that you’re responsible for every word on that page, not just your dialogue, and for every

From the moment we started shooting the episode to delivering the director’s cut, I felt the most overwhelming sense of accomplishment, even more so than I’ve ever felt as an actor. Well, that is until we did the “Miguel” episode. Do you plan to focus more time behind the camera now? I’m hoping to have a balance because I don’t think I’m ready to hang up my hat as an actor yet, but I am There are a lot of opportunities on that front, and I’ve already booked a couple of jobs directing for network TV. I’ve been working for 15 years straight as an actor since Generation Kill without a break, so that’s what I’m focusing on. When considering future roles, I need to make sure it’s the right job and that it ticks off all

How do you feel about how Miguel’s story ends? What I think was brilliant about holding back on revealing more is that we got this beautiful gift of an episode about Miguel that may not have happened otherwise. The impact the episode had on people made it worth the wait. The feedback we got from caretakers, immi-

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partner. The cast consistently gave 100 percent to each performance even if they weren’t on camera for a particular scene. So, when Sterling K. Brown or Justin Hartley or Mandy Moore gave powerful performances, the rest of us supported them and they would do the same for us with the same energy and respect. cause as an actor, this is something that we sometimes forget and it’s important to keep the continuity of the emotion. Moving forward, this is something I will be conscious of.

As Miguel in This Is Us, with Sterling K. Brown, left, as Randall.

grants, people who feel caught between two worlds, Afro Latinos, and was astonishing. Doing it all in one episode made it more impactful. There were even people who hated Miguel before who reached out to apologize. So many apologies! I tip my hat to Jonny Gomez who wrote the episode that touched so many people from different walks of life who found themselves in the episode somewhere. Now This Is Us is over, was it tough to say goodbye to Miguel? I’m not the type of person who cries watching the show, but this years. Saying goodbye the way we said it was so beautiful that I blubbered. I think because Miguel’s final episode was so meaty, it sparked interest in people at the studios and networks which will hopefully bring about more opportunities for someone like me to be at the heart of a series. What are you taking with you from your experience working on This Is Us? Working on the show taught me the value of being a great scene

I'm not the kind of person who cries watching the show, but this character was a part of me for six years. Saying goodbye the way we said it was so beautiful that I blubbered.

The show leaves a powerful legacy in its wake that was expanded further with the launch of the Somos Nosotros scholarship. How did that come about? The scholarship is one of the most special things I’ve seen a cast come together to do. The legacy of the scholarship shares the real meaning of This Is Us, it’s including everyone. We’re creating parity and equality by supporting

characters like Miguel on TV. You have such a long list of credlist of favorites? I would say Miguel is my favorite so far. Thanks to him, there are a lot of conversations about the importance of telling stories that include a broad spectrum of life in the world. I’m feeling hopeful about seeing new shows like the new Quantum Leap with an Asian lead, which was championed by Lisa Katz at NBC who was a champion in getting Miguel’s story out there. Also at NBC is Grace Wu, who is prioritizing diverse storytelling and casting personally. They both said they were inspired by the “Miguel” episode and how it represented the types of stories they want to see told. I’m so proud of Miguel’s legacy and I hope he continues to inspire viewers and in storytelling.


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love to see Laura in her environment with other LGBTQ friends, with other people. I want to hear what they’re saying about this. And where’s her family? Kerry Ehrin, when she created Laura, told me that Laura was from a very well-educated, liberal New York family. When she came out to them, her family was not accepting. I’d love to explore that, because I think it’s what so many of the LGBTQ community experience.

Julianna

M A RGU L I E S

The actress leans into the freedom of her powerful LGBTQ journalist role in The Morning Show's second season B Y C A R I TA R I Z Z O

After a seven-year run on The Good Wife, three-time Emmy winner Julianna Margulies is more selective than ever about where she lands. In joining The Morning Show as Laura Peterson, an anchor who, after being outed in the ’90s and losing her position at the titular show, re-emerges as one of the country’s top journalists, Margulies says the opportunity to portray an LGBTQ character at the top of her game was too good to pass up. Here, she discusses her chemistry with on-screen love interest Reese Witherspoon, a

You can be really discerning at

tive producer-director, and she and I came up on ER together. And

acter on television who is LGBTQ and portrayed with such incredible

episode I did was Lesli Linka Glatter, who not only directed me on ER, but also on The Good Wife. It really felt like a safe environment to explore this kind of a character in the middle of a pandemic.

where she’s going in life. She’s not a caricature. What I am curious about and what I’d love to explore more is, how far in does she get with Bradley [Witherspoon]? Where is that line between sexual attraction and common sense for Laura? Does she fall so madly in love with Bradley that she isn’t able to bring herself back to who she knows? In creating that, I want to know, who are her friends, who’s guiding her? We all have people in our lives and, in Season 2, you didn’t see that with Laura. You just saw her in their environment. I would

was it about The Morning Show One, I was already a huge fan of the show. Two, I had never played a character like Laura Peterson. I thought that she was so smartly written, and it was such a privilege to play an LGBTQ character that was had this incredible track history of success, but also had gone through the wringer herself so that she could get to the place where she wanted to be. She’s really fun to play. Also, working with everybody there. Mimi Leder happens to be their execu-

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about Laura Peterson? esting about her is, this is a woman who really has her life together. I’ve heard from numerous people how much she means to them, in -

Did portraying someone so together and self-assured have an effect on you? It’s such a relief. [Laughs] One of the reasons I love acting is because I love putting on someone else’s shoes. When the lines are written for you and the character’s there, I can unapologetically be that character, whereas when you’re your own person in life, you have to tread lightly. You don’t want to come on too strong or too this or too that. When I get to play a character, all of that goes out the window and I just can dive into who the character is on the page and create her physia tremendous amount of freedom in acting, and it probably stems from my childhood of always being in the wrong country and the wrong accent. I never felt as together as Laura Peterson does, but I also know that she’s human. In order not to make her a caricature, I’d love to see some of the sides of her that are more vulnerable to things that people might not know about and how she would handle that. There’s also a mentor quality to her, which can be good, but in a Absolutely. I mean, you don’t always want to be the mentor. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to ask someone else for their advice in a relationship. I know that in my own marriage, it’s such a give-and-take all the time. What keeps it balanced is that I know I can ask my husband, “What


do you think of this?” And whatever he says, I’m going to respect that answer. I don’t know with Bradley and Laura how much of Bradley’s advice Laura would take at face value. And can one person take on a mothering role without starting to feel like a parent? That’s the thing, right? They always are gardeners, and that’s how people set up a relationship. You’re the And then there’s the gardener who always takes care of you. I don’t think that’s a healthy relationship. I think you both have to be gardeners and in a relationship. Otherwise, it’s going to be one-sided, and I don’t know how sexy or fun that is after a while. How did you and Reese go about developing this relationship? In

From left: Desean Terry, Guilford Adams, Margulies, Reese Witherspoon, Janina Gavankar and Karen Pittman in The Morning Show.

So, for Bradley to hear that from her, I think it’s one of the biggest moments in Season 2 for Bradley to move forward in who she is.

come in terms of representation and being open about who we

chemistry seems so obvious in that was going in the moment. I don’t think anyone did, especially them. With Reese, it’s easy. She knows how to play with other actors. I’m so grateful that it was her I got to do these scenes with, because it all depends on your chemistry as human beings as well. You can’t make that up. It’s either there or it’s not. And I think Reese was very excited to see Bradley go in a different direction than she had been going. I also think it’s important that this character, who’s been guided by Alex [Jennifer Aniston] and Cory [Billy Crudup], who all have ulterior motives, gets to see herself through someone else’s eyes. I think a big part of what made the relationship work in the second season was that Laura says, “They’re not using you in the right way, you’re more than that.” I think that’s a lightning bolt moment for Bradley, because she’s hearing it from someone who she’s respected her whole life—possibly one of the reasons she became a journalist.

say about where we are with public acceptance? I think we haven’t come far enough, but I also think we’ve come at least far enough where you won’t lose your job over it. I think that’s what the whole show is about. It started out with the #MeToo movement and what was happening to women in the news environment behind the camera. And I think we’ve made many steps forward and quite a few steps back. But I think what also makes the show so delicious is this fodder for gossip. One of my favorite scenes in the show is when Alex comes in and says, “Why don’t you like me?” And my character paints the picture of what Alex’s reaction to her being gay did to her—and paints it in very broad strokes so the whole audience can understand that. I think it brings awareness to what idle gossip can do to someone’s life. Hopefully, people watching that can look into their own [actions]. I certainly did when I read the scene. I thought, “Gosh, have I ever just

gossip’s sake?” It makes you much more aware of how something that may not feel important to you can upend another person’s life. Words have power, and, said in the wrong way, words can destroy. Especially in the world of social media, these 40-character sentences that people are writing off the cuff, or because they’re feeling angry, these things have consequences.

already knew why Laura is so cool towards Alex? Yes. But, for me, the most interesting part about shooting that scene is knowing that it’s a favor she’s doing for Cory. She has spent the past 20 years trying to stay away from Alex because she’s not interested in hanging out with her. It’s not so much that Laura dislikes Alex. It’s that Alex has nothing to offer Laura, so Laura’s just going to stay away. What I loved about the power dynamic was that I think Alex’s character has this whole idea of what Laura’s after, but—at least I hope this is what the audience saw—I only wanted Laura to do her job, which is to get the truth. It’s all about Mitch [Steve Carell] and this book that’s coming out, and I don’t think Laura really cares one way or another whether Alex slept with Mitch. I think what Laura cares about is the

truth and how that impacts every woman working in the news. And by doing that, it actually elevates Laura. Until Alex can just say, “This is who I am,” she can’t be herself, and Laura already went through that. So, it was a very clever way, I thought, of the writers almost mirroring what Laura went through 20 years before when she was outed. There’s a freedom in saying, “Yeah, I’m gay. I’m no longer hiding. This is who I am.” There was a freedom for Alex’s character at the end to say, “Yeah, I slept with Mitch. This is who I am. Fire me.” Right there, suddenly she’s free of these ridiculous, weighty lies. Playing a news reporter and a neling anyone? I tried to make Laura her own person. People are immediately going to go to, “She’s a Diane Sawyer. She’s a Katie Couric.” I also felt that she had a lot of Christiane Amanpour in her because when she got She went back into the war zones. She went back into scary places and most,” and I think that’s her truth. Laura is exactly who she is because of the job she’s chosen. It takes a middle of a war zone, risking your life to tell the truth. That’s also the silver lining of something horrible happening, when you get outed against women to men. What it did for her was it brought her back to herself and what she really wanted in life, and that was to be a real journalist. Laura and Bradley's story was perhaps a bit eclipsed by Covid and Mitch towards the end. Is there more in store for Season 3? I honestly can tell you I don’t know. I hope so. I have not gotten a script yet, so I can’t say anything. And I’m sure even if I had gotten a script, I wouldn’t be allowed to say anything. But I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what they write for her.

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Jenna

O RT E GA

The Fallout star explores the horrific trauma of a high school shooting survivor B Y M AT T H E W C A R E Y

The HBO Max drama The Fallout depicts a scenario that has become all too real: a shooting at a school that leaves young people dead or injured. The unthinkable tragedy in Uvalde, Texas is the latest

directed by Megan Park, portraying a teenage survivor of an attack struggling with the trauma that has resulted from what she has endured. Ortega explores an aspect sometimes overlooked in the wake of such a devastating event—the lasting emotional impact on the children who survive.

What were your thoughts as you such a wrenching subject matter? A project like this, it’s so relevant and it’s so unfortunately real that I think it was a bit nerve-wracking because obviously I only want to be respectful to anybody who’s ever experienced anything like this before. It’s a very sensitive topic. But after meeting with Megan, the writer-director who’s so wonderful and put so much time and effort into this project, knowing that she was only coming from a place of respect and well-meaning and had educated herself on the topic, I felt safe to proceed. You started acting quite young.

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I went up until my freshman year of high school. I was in public school. We always had active shooter drills. When I was in eighth grade, we had an active shooter drill that was supposed to take place after lunch. And as soon as lunch began, the alarm system went off and the teachers ushered all the students into our main auditorium. And we were asking, “Wasn’t this supposed to start later?” And we’re thinking, Oh, maybe they’re trying to do an element of surprise or something like that. And even when we were sitting in the auditorium, it just seemed a bit off and we kept asking the teachers, “Is this real? Is this real?” We didn’t

realize it was actually a real situation. And apparently a student had brought a gun on campus and was showing people. The police came, they escorted the student out and it was a whole big deal. It’s intense when something suddenly turns real like that. Nobody ever really understands until it happens to them. So, I think I had already had that moment of, it could happen anywhere, at any time. My younger siblings, there have been times when they have been told not to go to school certain days because there was a bomb threat or something. It’s awful.

I tried to be as active as I could on social media or going to marches and events and summits. And I actually had the privilege of hearing Parkland [Florida] students such as X González speak, and I got to speak with them afterwards. It was incredibly moving, and I think it would have anyone to hear. You go through such a range of

room when the shooting breaks Was there a scene you found most

researched kids who had gone Unfortunately, because it is such a common occurrence, there’s so much out there. I watched videos, interviews. I also looked at images and at absolutely anything I could get my hands on to focus more on the actual events, and then all of that thinking and processing after it just kind of came naturally. Then, also, when the March For

I feel like it was that bathroom scene. It’s kind of strange, too, that was actually the last scene that we shot. Obviously, approaching the subject with kind of hesitancy because you never want to tell a story that isn’t yours, you have to fully commit in a situation like that… The whole cast and crew were visibly affected. Everyone stopped talking. Everybody kept their head down and everybody did what we had to do.


We approached it as delicately as we could. And we tried our best to not do anything that was too triggering or too much for audiences, but then also give them the jarring realization of naturalness. That one was really scary. You just really, really want to do it right, yeah. And that was really nerve-wracking. Maddie Ziegler’s character in The Fallout million followers on Instagram.

I got [my Instagram account] for my job when I was younger and I was on Disney Channel for a while and they tell you, “Post every day, do this.” They give you a set of instructions on how to build your account so that you could get more people to watch your show. So that’s what I did. They know what they’re doing because it worked, but now I’m left with [it]. I’m so scared of social media and if I could delete my pages I would, and I think I will

From left: Jenna Ortega, Maddie Ziegler and Megan Park on The Fallout set.

Essays. I’ve never read her before, so I’m very excited because I know that she’s a big deal. I read a lot of satirical stuff, like A Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift and things like that. I’m trying to get into Charles Bukowski because I have a lot of friends who love Bukowski. Love is a Dog From Hell is a book that I’m trying to get my hands on right now.

literally anyone all over the world is accessible. So, it opens up really important conversations when necessary. But it’s becoming more and more of a toxic environment. I feel like people aren’t welcoming toward people asking questions anymore without some sort of criticism or harassment that makes it scary. It doesn’t need to be that scary. I feel the internet has too much power at this point.

joke, especially because Hispanics tend to be shown in such a negative light. It’s either the maid or the drug dealer’s daughter… I always got really excited when I got those jobs that were open ethnicity or maybe initially meant for a Caucasian actor… I do want to open the doors for as many Latin people as possible, just because we’re a beautiful community and we should be celebrated. The Latin community only make up three percent of all representation shown

showcase their talents in Holly-

I’m a massive reader. I actually really love to collect antiquarian literature and I love that my job allows me to travel so much because now my books are from all over the world.

Being Latina has always been really, really lovely for me. It’s something that I’m very proud of. I grew up in a community [Coachella Valley, California] surrounded by all kinds of Hispanics, which was really wonderful because I never grew up with any sort of shame or any sort of fear of my culture. I feel like regardless of whether or not people are looking to get

author or transcendentalist that I connected with and resonated with. And I found that when I was in New Zealand. I have multiple books of his own personal essays. Self-Reliance was a big one for me. I just got Virginia Woolf—The Moment and Other

their work, representation is so, so important in building one’s selfesteem or self-respect. Growing up, these kids are watching the pretty girl or guy [who] never looks like them. It’s never the lead or never the main character or always the

get my hands on to

It’s not all one color. I think Latins are making their way up there, but we’ve still got a way to go. At age 19, is there anyone in the

Recently, my greatest obsession is Riz Ahmed. Not only a powerhouse of an actor, but then also just everything that he stands for. He’s so smart in the roles that he takes. He’s incredibly well-spoken and also is really, really amazing in the activism more similar to his or even just be able to speak up and gain the same type of knowledge he seems to have about the things that matter to him, I would love to do the same. I think he’s a good role model for me.

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This is such a poetic mood piece. Have you ever played anyone like Ptolemy Grey before? It’s been a long time since I’ve done a piece that has dramatic quality and requires me to call on the acting things that I learned when I was in theater. So yeah. It’s been a while, but yes, I have. How long has this project been in the works? For 10 years or so. I met Walter Mosley at a couple of other places when he was doing some of his other novels, or you know, just being around New York. But since we started trying to do this, we’ve been in contact with each other and trying to get this done for over 10 years. So yeah, we’ve known each other for a while. I’ve always liked his writing, so why not? Why did it take 10 years? Was it hard to find a buyer? It was sitting in one place for a out how to make it into a 90-minute, hour-and-45-minute movie. I was against it, so I never signed off on any of those. The scripts that we got left out too much. It’s a full story about somebody’s life. It’s hard to tell that in an hour and 45 minutes.

Samuel L.

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His 10-year odyssey to turn Walter Mosley’s book into a limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey B Y LY N E T T E R I C E

His one-eyed Nick Fury eyepatch from the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be gone, but Samuel L. Jackson is still playing the hero. In The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, Jackson plays a reclusive old man with dementia who is given a miracle drug to help him remember his past. Though the cure is only temporary, Ptolemy uses the brief respite from his impairment to investigate the death of his nephew Reggie. Here, the actor explains why it took so long to adapt the popular Walter Mosley book of the same name into a limited series for Apple TV+.

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It was such a beloved book. Were there any worries about doing it justice for the screen? You never know. Novels, like I said, are dense. I was a little worried at first that even six episodes wouldn’t be enough, but we figured out a way to make that happen. I would’ve preferred eight in my mind. All the people watching it were very sad that it was coming to an end. There are parts that we had to lose or abbreviate in a way so we could make it work. But overall, I’m pleased with what we got. The title pretty much gives the ending away. Why do you think it still works? I mean, we’ve seen other things


about people who were dying, and you end up going back and doing flashbacks of their life or whatever. So that’s not a hard thing. At one point, the people at Apple were worried about the mystery element and they were like, “Can we play that up?” I said, “Everybody kinda knows who did it. So, I don’t think we gotta hide that from people.” So other than that, no, I wasn’t concerned about that. We tell the story and make them fall in love with the people on the inside of the story. That’s how you do it. We had great people, and everybody was committed to the project in terms of how it was going to play out and who their characters were. How do you prepare to play a man with dementia? I remember the people who I know who had it and what I saw when I was dealing with them, then trying to put myself in that place. I think that gave me sort of a leg up in terms of what I was trying to do or where I was trying to be in terms of what my face looked like or being lost in my own world or being alone. Some of my favorite parts are the moments where Ptolemy is by himself, and he’s trying to figure out what’s going on or who he is or why he is sitting there, eating those beans. In one of the episodes where Ptolemy is about to get the miracle treatment for his dementia from Dr. Rubin [Walton Goggins], we see a Black couple in the waiting room. Do viewers learn that this trial drug is used only on people of color? I don’t know if we find that out, but in my mind, I’ve always assumed that Walt Goggins' character works for some unknown pharmaceutical company. And I think that he does go to clinics, not necessarily in the Black community, but you know, more than likely in the Black community where people are being treated for various things like

Jackson with DeRon Horton in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey.

diabetes and cancer. And there’s a drug that company has for everything that they’re experimenting with, and they’re using them on poor people and people of color, for sure. Then they pay for their bodies when they’re dead so they can examine what that drug did to them. In the book, Ptolemy is not supposed to live longer than a week and he ends up living longer because he’s a very strong person for some reason, or genetically something works for him that didn’t work for everybody else. He’s just one of many people who is being experimented on by whoever that pharmaceutical company is. This movie actually really Awakenings, which was so good, but also so sad. If you were to suffer Ptolemy’s fate, do you think you would you be willing to take a drug that temporarily restores your memory? Of course. Everybody would love to have another chance to go back and fix the things that they know can be fixed. I think about that sometimes. I don’t know. There are a couple people I wish I’d never met, but otherwise I’m OK.

It was sitting in one place for a while, but they kept trying to to make it into a 90-minute, hourand-45-minute movie. I was against it, so I never signed off on any of those.

Dominique Fishback is so good as Robin, the young woman who ends up looking after Ptolemy. What was she like to work with? She’s very studious and intense. I knocked some of that intensity down by saying, “Look, we’ve got to have some fun here. Don’t worry about getting this all right. It’ll get right. Because we have a relationship that works.” Off camera, I enjoyed her company and the kinds of things that she was bringing, like a 28-page PowerPoint presentation of who Robin was [laughs]. I tried to allow her to be herself, to allow the natural joy of coming to work every day and having a job. I said, “Look, we don’t get to act all the time. So, when we have it, we’ve got to enjoy it, embrace it and not get bogged down in the minutiae.” I think we accomplished that. This could make a cool series about a man with dementia, kept alive and kicking with this mysterious drug, who goes on to solve crimes. Well, I mean, the book is the book, but yeah. People are definitely clamoring for, “You know, he’s not dead. Let’s just see if the doctor comes back with more drugs for him.” There’s stuff to be mined from that, for sure. Ten years. That’s a long time to wait for this. Was it everything that you’d hoped for? It is. I’m one of those people that looks at what people are saying online. So, in real time, I was going through Twitter and looking at how people felt about the series. So yeah, it felt worth it. The reward was great. People’s comments were really kind and really involved. Some people got a little triggered by that first episode because they have relatives who are affected [by dementia]. I just hope they stick with it, right. If you get through the first episode, you’ll be OK. It gets a little lighter.

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Deadline’s Studio at the Cannes Film Festival

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e S Cédric Jimenez, Jean Dujardin Novembre

Finn Wolfhard

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Joel Edgerton The Stranger

Ledisi Spinning Gold

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Eden Dambrine, Lukas Dhont, Gustav de Waele Close

Jesse Eisenberg When You Finish Saving the World

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Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio Aftersun

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Jaylin Webb, Banks Repeta Armageddon Time

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Jessica Poor Bear War Pony

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