At least, that’s the thought that crossed my mind multiple times while watching “Defending Jacob,” the taut crime drama series from Apple TV+ centered around a couple pushed to the brink after their teenage son is accused of murder. Forgive my heretical thinking, but any institution — biological or otherwise — built upon the idea that one must love unconditionally, even in monstrous circumstances, seems like a living nightmare.
Still, the rewards must outstrip the potential detriments, otherwise why would everyone keep doing it?
It’s this tension that suffuses the whole of the limited series, written by Mark Bomback and directed by Morten Tyldum. It’s the burden that plagues Andy and Laurie Barber, as explored by Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery to great success, and the question that haunts audiences long after the crux of the narrative is resolved, for better or worse.
Naturally, it was top of mind when IndieWire spoke to Evans and Dockery about the series in May, as three childless people sat down to discuss parenting. This is what we came up with:
“I think, of course, parents out there will relate somewhat to their hopes and anxieties with children,” Dockery said of the reality in which the Barber family finds themselves embroiled. “It’s just a very extreme situation that they’re going through. But yeah, I don’t know how [parents] do it.”
“I think for the most part, we’d all agree loving deeply is a risk and there’s a gamble involved. You’ve really got to untether yourself and let the let the ocean take you out,” Evans said. “But a kid is different because you are the primary caregiver, you’re in charge of their lives. If a marriage falls apart, you can leave. A child, it’s on you, you know what I mean?”
“That’s daunting,” he added.
Where “Defending Jacob” really excels is when both Andy and Laurie are forced to confront their own potential culpability with regards to what kind of child they’ve raised. How much of who we are is who we were always going to be — and how much of it has been shaped by environment and experience and, yes, parents?
“It examines the the age old nature versus nurture question. Certainly my sister’s three kids, from before society and culture had their chance to have their their impact, these kids have their stripes,” Evans said. “So to some degree, nurture plays a role but nature is undeniable and and, and again, that that’s what links to Andy’s sense of guilt, because regardless of what you do as a parent, how unavoidable was this?”
For more of the actors insights into the perils of parenting, the potential similarities between fame and infamy, and the wonder of all things Boston, check out the video above.
(Los Angeles, CA – June 29, 2020) –The Hollywood Critics Association has revealed its full list of nominees for the 3rd Annual Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards.
Every June, the members of the HCA vote on the best in film, television, and streaming for the first half of the year. “We weren’t 100% certain that we were going to do the Midseason Awards due to the coronavirus, but after seeing that there were hundreds of series and films released in 2020, we knew that we had to push forward and celebrate the work of the actors, filmmakers, and storytellers who released films and series during this incredibly difficult time,” notes HCA co-founder Ashley Menzel.
“After the entire world was forced to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it became very apparent as an organization how much streaming platforms such as Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix have impacted and changed the industry. And with the recent launch of streaming services like Apple TV+, Disney Plus, HBO Max, and Quibi, streaming will only continue to change the traditional landscape of how we watch film and television,” adds HCA founder Scott Menzel. For this reason, the Hollywood Critics Association is pleased to announce that it has created two new award categories that will focus exclusively on streaming series.
For the Midseason Awards voting, the members of the Hollywood Critics Association organized a list of all 2020 films that were released theatrically, on VOD, and on various streaming platforms. There were over 195 feature length films in consideration and more than 100 series, between traditional television networks and streaming platforms.
Leading the nominations is Neon’s Shirley with a total of seven nominations including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. Several films tied for second place including Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma.
Among the nominations for new streaming series, Hulu leads the way with a total of four nominations, followed by Apple with three, and Netflix and Amazon with two nominations each.
The winners of the HCA Midseason Awards will be revealed on July 2, 2020.
Chris Evans Remembers Bombing His Audition for Seth Rogen—Three Times
BY JACK SMART | 2 JULY 2020 16:30
Chris Evans didn’t become one of the most famous actors working today without his share of suffering. The star of the “Avengers” movies and Apple TV+’s Emmy contender “Defending Jacob” considers auditioning to be at odds with the acting craft—and, more often than not, excruciatingly painful. Below, Evans tells Backstage about the worst of his many bad auditions and offers advice on how to cope with it all using a healthy sense of perspective.
How did you first get your SAG-AFTRA card? That’s a really good question, I wish I knew! I did a lot of little jobs in Massachusetts growing up, little local commercials and things like that. I don’t think they ever required you to join SAG. I think it was the first TV show I booked, “Opposite Sex.”
What is one performance that every actor should see and why? I’d say anything Daniel Day-Lewis has ever done in his life. In a more specific sense, I was always very, very moved by “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I thought Jack Nicholson was such a beautiful representation of this wild irreverence trying to be contained, trying to be denied by a system. He was so captivating. Every single scene in that movie, I think, is perfect.
Do you have an audition horror story you could share with us? Oh, yes. There are probably too many to list, but I think maybe one of them was that Seth Rogen movie where he’s the mall cop. What the fuck was it called? [“Observe and Report.”] I walked in the room, and there were Seth and the director and a producer, and for some reason, my brain just started shrieking, just screaming, “No, no, no.” I began my audition, and about three lines in, I got this wave of sweats and my face went red. Mid-audition, I said, “I’m sorry, guys. I’m sorry. I’ve got to stop.” It’s even worse because they were incredibly nice about it, like, “No, it was great. You were doing great.” I said, “Let me just go to the hallway and collect my thoughts.” I go into the hallway, I collect my thoughts. I’m laughing at myself. Go back in, we start up again, and it fucking happens again. My face just goes so red. I start sweating and I have to stop again.
I go to my car and I call my agent and I say, “That was a fucking nightmare. Whether I get this movie or not, I can’t let that be the last taste they have in their mouths. I’ve got to come back tomorrow and do this again. You’ve got to get me back there. I’ve got to do it again.” They were like, “All right, but they said you were OK.” I’m like, “They’re lying. It was terrible.” They got me back in a couple of days later and I’m back in. Don’t you fucking know, it happened again! [Laughs] There’s a wave of heat and sweat and I had to stop again. And I just say, “Guys, I’m so sorry...I’m just going to go.” I did not get that role.
What about the wildest thing you’ve ever done to get a role you really wanted? I remember I did a movie called “Street Kings” with Keanu Reeves. I had to go in to read for that one four or five times, and I had to do work sessions with Keanu. I suppose it’s not crazy, but they don’t make it easy. You’ve got to earn it. To some degree, I almost welcome that. I can say that now because I don’t have to deal with auditioning the way I did, but there’s a comfort in knowing on the first day of shooting, if you have been through the audition process, that you earned this and they know what you’re going to do is what they want.
What’s one piece of advice you would give your younger self? It almost feels like a bit of a platitude, but I just would tell myself, “Shh.” Just “Shh.” It’s an active sport to be still, and stillness is not apathetic. You’re not acquiescing. Stillness is full of power. It has to be practiced much like anything else. It’s like a sport. Your brain wants to operate at a very busy frequency. That’s all it knows, certainly in this culture and in this society. Rewire those synapses and teach your mind that that state of stillness is not some vacation. That is you. That should be the neutral default setting. That should be the North Star, not the thing you visit just when you’re feeling stressed or sad. Because we make our world very, very small. When you make your world small, suffering increases. There’s a great line in Buddhism where they say if you take a cup of water and you put a big handful of salt in it and you taste it, it’s going to taste like shit. If you take that same handful of salt and you put it in a lake and you take a sip of the lake, you can’t taste the salt at all. Be the lake, don’t be the water. The salt is a finite thing. The salt is your pain, your struggle. Just be more than what you think you are, and the suffering that the ego wants to put you through just can’t compete with that perspective.
"The movie came to life every time you were on the screen." Stan Lee to Chris Evans.
Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery on Defending Jacob A special edition of the Little Gold Men podcast, created in collaboration with Apple TV+.
BY VANITY FAIR
JULY 2, 2020
The Apple TV+ original series Defending Jacob is set around an almost unthinkable premise: what would you do if your child was accused of a horrific crime? For Massachusetts parents Andy Barber (Chris Evans) and Laurie Barber (Michelle Dockery), their son Jacob‘s (Jaeden Martell) potential involvement in the murder of a classmate upends everything, unearthing old family secrets and forcing them to question the premise of their entire lives.
On this special edition of the Little Gold Men podcast, created in collaboration with Apple TV+, hosts Joe Reid and LaTaya Ferguson discuss the eight episode of Defending Jacob, and how the dark subject matter unfolds into a gripping limited series and a showcase for the talents of it stars. Evans and Dockery also discuss their work on the show, from how they played two people who know each other so well but find themselves at odds to the lighter moments on set that were incredibly different from what you see onscreen.