I was invited by Disney to attend this event. All of my expenses were paid, but I promise all opinions are my own.
Just a few days ago I was sitting in a room with three stars from The Family as well as two Executive Producers watching the live episode with them and then screening the next episode of The Family. While we were there, we had a family style dinner (which was fantastic) and were able to just relax and hang out with them.
I’m excited to share our Q&A with Executive Producers Jenna Bans and Laurie Zaks; Alison Pill, “Willa”, Floriana Lima, “Bridey”, and Zach Gilford, “Danny.” All of them were a pleasure to sit down with and we were laughing and tweeting the entire time while in the room with them. After the Q&A, check out below where I share some details about tonight’s episode!
Jenna Bans started out by telling us where the story line for “The Family” originated from:
I lived in a house, and across the street was a sex offender, and I freaked out and got really scared. So part of it kind of came from there. The other part was that ABC had been wanting to do a mystery thriller. I sort of married the two ideas into The Family.
Jenna told us that Zach Gilford (Danny) was the first person to be cast for The Family. Laurie and Jenna recall that they made Zach go in the bathroom and shave because they wanted him to be clean cut…. but then they made him “scruffy” in the show anyways ;).
Alison Pill (Willa) shared how she gets into character to do all of her emotion on screen.
First off, we have really good writers and it makes sense to me. I think the sort of touchstone for me is the moment when me and Madeline Arthur switch places on the bed in the motel and she’s fully frozen at 13. She is someone who would do anything to keep her family together. All of this armor is built up to get her ultimate goal of keeping her family together. Then, everything else is driven by that so when anything threatens her family that is just the worst thing that could happen. All of the emotion comes from the thought of being 13 and trying to keep your family together. I was a very emotional 13 year old as most are.
Laurie Zaks weighs in on this subject:
Alison also knew from the beginning because we talked about it on the pilot even though we hadn’t figured out exactly what she had done, totally. By the time we filmed the pilot, you knew – she knew that he wasn’t her brother, so all of those cool moments in the pilot where she’s watching him in the hospital room, all of that footage was used in a future episode.
Zach shares what he thinks about Allison Pill’s acting…..
I’ve gotta say, I had that same question because she’s SO good. Like, 90% of my stuff is with these two (Allison and Floriana), and our stuff is fun and we work together. I know she’s amazing and she’s cool to work with.
Alison shares how it is amazing to work with Andrew McCarthy directing the sexy scenes:
Me as a teenager, I was like wait …. should we kiss? Do you wanna like test it out?! He’s so intense, wonderful and brilliant – I never saw any of this stuff coming with Hank Asher.
Floriana (Bridey) states:
It’s weird that he’s a director AND also playing Hank which is this intense character. He’s just so present in the show and as a director so you’re like WHOA! You’re doing that at the same time – how cool!
He also knows the show SO well, like he will call me on things being like in the script you say this but you said this. He’s like everywhere – in the writer’s room and on set – he’s awesome! BIG MVP this year for ys.
Next, we wanted to know how it is working with different directors for different episodes.
Alison says, “It’s weird, super weird!”
Floriana says, “It’s definitely weird to get used to somebody.”
Alison says, “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 all. Then there’s somebody new who doesn’t know your set, doesn’t know your crew, doesn’t know you camera guy’s name. Thankfully, my scenes are with these wonderful people like Joan Allen who is AMAZING. Anyways, it’s really weird going back and forth between different people and having Andrew, a familiar face, because he did three, five and six – you’re like “you’re not a stranger.” We’ve had a few people come back which is always nice because you have shorthand but it’s really weird.
Jenna says, “I think that’s also the hardest – first season! If we are lucky enough to have a second season, we sort of know the directors we like.It gets much easier because you have the staple of people that come back.
Laurie says, “We also have a REALLY great crew like really good. The things you don’t know about sets and specifically TV – like our camera crew becomes sort of like the type to question you about things and they know the show better than anyone.
Next, we get a small glimpse into the finale where the team talks about how great Joan Allen is as an actor and person.
Floriana, “In the finale, our camera man was just dying. When Joan was in a super intense situation, he was just like “I waited my whole career to be filing someone like this…..”
Alison says, “You guys, Joan Allen is SO good at acting. She also made cookies from her grandmother’s recipe; she made 150 cookies on her day off and brought them in before Holiday break. They were cakey, amazing cookies with delicious icing.
Everyone agrees that they were DELICIOUS!!
We had a fun moment where the team was talking about how Joan Allen made a baked potato bar for the cast and crew. Floriana says “Joan Allen shucked potatoes for it.” It was a fun laugh because you obviously don’t shuck potatoes, you peel them! We had a fun laugh then with the crew. It’s still funny “Nobody shucks potatoes like Joan Allen.”
We are always looking at answering questions that our readers ask for the characters. Here’s one: “Is it hard to go back to normal after being in such a dark place?”
Alison, “Not for this one. It’s funny because I say I am not affected by it, like most of the time I’m not because we have this set full of great people. In that one scene where at the end of the episode she’s like “how are you this person?” I couldn’t stop crying. Floriana remembers that part to. I lost my mind on it and partly because my Mother has never said anything like this to me.
Sort of getting into the character and picturing my Mom saying that to me and then needing a really big hug from Joan at the end. Thank goodness my dog could come to see a lot because that’s really helpful. I would go home, cook dinner and watch Veronica Mars (which is amazon). So, the whole time I would just carve out time for my sanity and sort of coming back to life. I forget sometimes that it is as intense as it is. Most of the time I am crying for real.
We wondered if anyone had ever said anything to the characters while they were just out in public grocery shopping or whatever, like “You’re so CRAZY on The Family.”
Alison says that no one has really recognized her from this show yet. Most likely because they all look different and she wears her hair differently.
Zach says his neighbor knows him. Alison says it would be funny if his neighbor was like “you’re a CRAZY drunk!”
Jenna says that a lot of people tell her about Alison’s character, “she’s so insane and crazy.” I tell them “no, she’s a really sweet girl.”
Alison wanted to know why people think that and Jenna states that it is because she is a REALLY good actress 0 we all agree with that!!
Floriana says that is surprises her that people think that Alison is the crazy character because to her Alison is just thirteen in the show. The saddest character is Hank – I’m like “he’s a pedophile!”
Zach shares a “deep” moment with us about Hank…..
Jokes aside, I actually told him when we shot the pilot….. there was this American Life episode that I listened to a couple of years ago and it was literally a 16 or 17 year old who realized he was a pedophile and he’d never done anything but there’s a point where he knows its wrong and he doesn’t want to be. I think it is actually good that people are sympathizing with someone like this because he hasn’t hurt anyone. He kind of opens up, you know!
We then ask, “You’ve seen people defending Hank, and he’s a sex offender. But until this episode it hasn’t been specifically said. The writers play games with your mind, right?
Alison says, “Yes, they do! I love this character so much and I feel bad for him. I’m just surprised …. you know when you think of America and feeling one way or another and putting a person in a box. They’re going to hate no matter what because the label is there. We still don’t know exactly what he did. The season does get more specific about what his offense was and he ends up being without – there is something about episode 8. It gets VERY interesting.
We started asking if they knew there would be a second season yet…. they’re not sure. Then, we found out that there are 12 episodes total in Season 1 so we will keep our eyes out if The Family get renewed. We wanted to know how many seasons they see this show running.
Jenna Bans says “Definitely three. Beyond that, what happens is at the end of three you’re like this can go on another season. That’s what happened with Scandal. Somehow it always works itself out.
As you know, in the show there are present day and then flashbacks. We found out that:
“We film the flashbacks and the present day at the same time. We sort of figure out what present day stories we want to tell and then we look at what flashbacks we could possibly do that inform the viewers of the history. We don’t have a requirement for a certain number of flashbacks per episode- we go with what we feel is right.” – Jenna Bans
We wanted to know how they figured out what the police do with child abduction.
Jenna shares that they had a consultant (a psychiatrist) who deals with how police handle this sort of thing. There are a lot of different things you try and see what works.
Our interview with the cast and producers were so fun. I truly enjoyed watching 2 episodes with them and then chatting about The Family. This has become one of my favorite shows as of late and I am addicted. I’m curious to see what happens in the rest of the season and hoping it gets picked up for a second season.
Make sure you tune into The Family on ABC!! You will love it, you can even watch previous episodes on Hulu. We learned something NEW about ratings for shows. Watching live is the BEST for the show’s ratings but we understand that some people aren’t able to and DVR it. If you DVR it, make sure you watch it within 3 days of airing as it helps the ratings. Unfortunately, watching it on Hulu doesn’t help the ratings. Therefore, if you have a show that you LOVE make sure you watch live or within 3 days of airing!!
— Olivia Douglass (@odouglass11) April 17, 2016
In tonight’s episode:
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.
For now, check out some pictures and some clips from tonight.
Tune in tonight! We were able to preview this episode while at the #ABCTVEvent and it is AMAZING. We find out some awesome stuff, but I won’t share any spoilers. Remember, if you can’t watch live tonight, DVR it and watch within 3 days to help the show’s ratings.
As always, follow The Family on Twitter and me as we will be live tweeting using the hashtag #TheFamily – follow along: