Last Sunday night I was sitting down for dinner with the cast of ABC’s The Family. It was very cool. We got to have a lovely ‘family style’ dinner with Zach Gilford (“Danny”), Alison Pill (“Willa”), Floriana Lima (“Bridey”) and Executive Producers Jenna Bans & Laurie Zaks and watch last week’s episode of the show with them right in the room eating with us. It was kind of surreal. And we all live tweeted it together. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter because they post a lot of really good stuff!
Missing for a decade, a politician’s young son, Adam Warren, was presumed to be dead. When Adam suddenly makes a shocking return, he is at first greeted with astonishment and joy. As the young man is welcomed back into the family, suspicions begin to emerge about his true identity, and long-buried secrets, heartache and betrayals are brought to the surface. Oscar-nominee Joan Allen stars as Adam’s mother, Claire, who found a way to turn the disappearance of her son into fuel for her political aspirations. Now that Adam has returned, Claire struggles to keep her imploding family together as the election for governor heats up.
Have you seen The Family yet? It airs on Sundays at SUNDAYS 9|8c on ABC. I honestly had to give the show two chances. I do not usually watch things that have to do with child abuse or death of children. Ever since I had my youngest I have been such a crybaby at shows like that. So I watched the first episode and cried through most of it and decided to let it go. But then I was invited on this #CaptainAmericaEvent & #ABCTVEvent trip and I decided I had to give it another chance so I binge watched all the episodes that were out. I am so glad I did! It goes so deep. Like its kind of mind blowing. Every episode I am on the edge of my seat wondering what twist they are going to throw at us next. I have even gotten my friend hooked so much that she called me Sunday night to beg that I tell her what is going to happen on the show tonight. That’s right, I also got to screen the upcoming episode “Sweet Jane” which airs tonight.
Claire wrestles with the emotional ramifications of Willa’s scheming. Meanwhile, Nina observes that Adam disappears every night from his home and sets out to track down his mysterious destination, while Clements investigates Jane’s connection to Doug, the pock-marked man. When the Governor’s wife threatens to reveal Claire’s drinking, Willa handles the situation by exposing another Warren family secret, potentially changing the outcome of the election. Finally, Hank makes a shocking discovery that reveals his true involvement in Adam’s kidnapping.
We also got to have an interview session with them after we screened “Sweet Jane.” I have always liked Zach Gilford. He was amazing in Friday Night Lights so it is a bit weird seeing him as the alcoholic Danny who doesn’t seem to care much about his family. He was such a fun person to interview. He had us all laughing through the whole night. He even stole Floriana Lima’s phone at one point to tweet. We found out that he was actually the first person cast. He told us that they made him shave in the bathroom that first day because the president of the company was watching his interview. And then they ended up making his character be all scruffy anyway.
One of my favorite characters on the show is Alison Pill. She plays Willa and she just has such amazing emotion. The last two episodes I have seen (7 & 8) I have just felt like I should reach through the screen and give her a hug. I know she is devious but she does it from a good place. We asked Alison how she can possibly portray all those emotions so well.
“First of all, we have really good writers and it really makes sense to me,” said Alison. “And then I think the sort of touchstone for me is the moment when me and Madeline Arthur (who plays younger Willa) switch places on the bed in the motel. She’s fully frozen at thirteen. She is somebody who will do anything to keep her family together.
“Everything else that is built up- all of this armor- is only to get to her ultimate goal, which is having her entire family under one roof again. That’s it. And literally everything else is driven by that, so when anything threatens that, that is the worst thing that can happen in the world.”
“So all of the emotion just comes from that thought of being thirteen and trying to keep your family together” Alison added that “she loves the fact that her character was written in sort of a slow burn of not understanding Willa and she hates her brother, she is too uptight and really religious. And then you finally get to know her emotional life which is deep and huge”. I was so in agreement with her. You see Willa as a robot in the first couple of episodes but then you see what all she is doing to try to keep her family together, to keep them happy, and you understand what a bundle of emotions she is. And of course she was super fun and funny during the interview. She was also wearing a great green jacket that I want! Zach Gilford joked that he would be filming and look over his shoulder and she would be back there like giving him a Denzel Washington one tear. He said, “I’m like Alison, you’re not even on camera! Like, stop. I am not going to do that for you. I dont even know how you do it for me. Stop.” He was laughing when he said it though and said she was really good. We also asked her what she does to wind down after a tough scene.
“I would go home, cook dinner, and watch Veronica Mars which I had never seen and which is amazing,” she said. “Like, I don’t know how I missed it. Anyway. Oh my good, it’s so good. It’s so good,” she laughs. “You just sort of carve out of time for sanity and sort of coming back to Earth and life but it was super- it’s- I forget sometimes that it is as intense as that- where I’m like, I’m like actually I’m crying, for real, though.“
We also found out something I had no idea on. Apparently they work with many different directors during the show. I have seen some shows say that so and so was a guest director but I didnt realize it was the norm. We asked how it was working with so many directors.
It’s, it’s weird. It’s super weird – Alison
It’s definitely weird to get used to somebody. – Floriana
It’s the hardest thing about TV. It really is because it’s not the director’s medium, and I love to act mostly because I love working with directors, and getting cool notes, and being, like, yeah. And now what? I could do it different. What? You know, so without that, it’s really- first of all, like, we don’t have as much time. And then there’s suddenly, like, the next day, there’s somebody new who doesn’t know your set, doesn’t know your crew, doesn’t know your camera guy’s name…
Thankfully, my scenes with these wonderful people and with the extraordinary Joan Allen who, you know, everything she does is amazing. So reacting to that is- you’re just lucky. But it’s really weird and, going back and forth to different people, having Andrew- a familiar face, because he came and did- he did three, and then five and six, and having him for all of those ones was so- because you’re just like, oh, at least you’re not a stranger. Because often the bad, the sort of annoying part is, by the time you’ve done eight days of shooting, you finally know this person and their vibe, and then they’re gone. – Alison
Andrew McCarthy directed three of the episodes even while playing the deep, emotional Hank Asher on the show. He even does a particular stance and walk playing Hank. He gets really into his character and I do not even know where they are going with him but it is getting intense. And we also found out that you need to watch shows within three days for the ratings to count. And we want this show to have a second season so even if you DVR it, watch it within three days! And now they know which directors are good so they will have a better time shooting.
We asked Jenna Bans how many seasons she could see the show running since she was talking about different directors and the direction the show was going in.
Definitely three. Beyond that, what happens is, you know, I was on Scandal, too, and we were like, this can only go, like, a season. What are we gonna do? And then you get to the end of the first season, and you’re like, oh, that’s a second season, and then in second season, you’re like, that’s obviously the third season. So you sort of- somehow it always works itself out, but yeah. – Jenna
They told us all about working with Joan Allen who I am so sad wasn’t there. I think its because she lives on the East Coast though. She is on my bucket list of people to meet because I just love her.
“She’s so good,” -Jenna
Alison said, “You guys, Joan Allen is so good at acting.”
“She is! And, she’s really nice, too!” added Floriana.
“She made cookies from her grandmother’s recipe,” Alison said. “She made a hundred and fifty cookies on her day off and brought them in before our holiday break. They were like cakey, amazing cookies with delicious icing.”
She also did the potato bar. Do you remember that?” – Jenna
And then they made a bunch of comments about how Joan Allen shucked the potatoes herself and made them a potato bar. It was such a funny conversation. I still dont know if she made them herself or brought them in but its a great thing for her to do for the cast and crew. I bet she made them herself. She is just awesome like that.
They took pictures with us. I made sure to stand next to Zach Gilford. He is so cute in person. We asked him about the Taylor Swift video he was in. He said she is so nice. I knew that already though because she is Taylor Swift.
If you want to read more about our interviews or what other bloggers that were with me thought about it, you can follow the hashtag, #TheFamily and #ABCTVEvent. We all had a bunch of fun. They really did keep us laughing the whole time even during the tense parts of the show when we switched to commercials.
ABC’s The Family airs on Sunday nights at 9pm/8pm C. You can catch up on episodes online on ABC. Do not forget to watch within three days so we can get another season. I do not think they can answer all my questions in just one season. No way.