From showrunners Ron Fitzgerald & Rolin Jones, and govt produced by Robert Downey Jr. & Susan Downey, the HBO restricted collection Perry Mason is about in 1931 Los Angeles with Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) as a PI that’s struggling to make ends meet. When the case of a kidnapped one-year-old with a $100,000 ransom comes his means, Mason turns to his right-hand man Pete Strickland (Shea Whigham), legal professional E.B. Jonathan (John Lithgow) and E.B.’s authorized secretary Della Avenue (Juliet Rylance), for assist in answering the rising record of questions surrounding the crime.
Throughout this 1-on-1 cellphone interview with Collider, actor Matthew Rhys talked about his response to taking up a Perry Mason remake, why this was a personality that he needed to dive into, the challenges in taking up this function, whether or not there might be a second season, if he’d be curious about directing an episode, discovering the proper hat and his love/hate relationship with it, the collaborative improvement course of, and the enjoyable of working with such a proficient forged.
Collider: When somebody talked about the identify Perry Mason to you, had been you instantly intrigued? What was your response to that?
MATTHEW RHYS: It was fascinating, in that the total quantity of knowledge wasn’t fairly relayed correctly. I acquired this message saying, “They wanna speak to you a few remake of Perry Mason.” And I used to be like, “Why would you wanna remake Perry Mason? You possibly can’t remake Perry Mason.” After which, once I spoke to my agent, he stated, “HBO desires to make a remake of Perry Mason.” And I used to be like, “Effectively, it’s not gonna be a remake. It’s gonna be totally HBO-ified, in the event that they’re making it.” After which, on the pitch assembly with the producers and writers, I spotted in a short time that it wasn’t a remake. It’s a agency re-imagining and a redefining of Perry Mason, in a really fascinating means.
Perry Mason is a kind of characters the place persons are typically extra acquainted with the identify than the main points of the present, itself.
RHYS: That’s precisely my expertise with him. I used to be like, “Oh, yeah, after all. Why would you remake Perry Mason? Cling on, I don’t actually keep in mind Perry Mason.” You may have this picture of who Perry Mason is. I, for one, had this picture of who Perry Mason was, after which you’ve gotten these imprecise recollections of individuals confessing on the stand, however I had no actual specifics of Perry Mason. So then, once you’re questioned on what your reminiscence of Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason is, you’re like, “Effectively, I don’t actually keep in mind it that nicely.”
Does that offer you a sure sense of freedom? Is there a aid that comes with not likely having to be beholden to that concept as a result of folks aren’t actually even certain what that concept is?
RHYS: It does, to a sure diploma, and principally, to a sure era. There are a selection of folks that I’ve spoken to, of a sure age and up, who’ve very sturdy recollections and really sturdy opinions about Perry Mason. So, they’re like, “Oh, you’re the brand new Perry Mason?” And also you’re like, “Effectively, I’m a distinct Perry Mason.” There are huge waves of generations that don’t know who Perry Mason is, that it’ll be launched to, and I’m happy about that. I don’t assume he’s as recognizable of a personality within the societal zeitgeist that folks could be up in arms going “You possibly can’t remake this now!” I believe sufficient time has handed.
After doing a collection like The Individuals, which was such a fantastic present and such a fantastic character, it looks like the toughest factor could be determining what to do, after that. How did you strategy that? Did you are feeling such as you needed to take a minute to resolve what that subsequent step ought to be? What was going by means of your head, so far as the place to go from there, as soon as that present ended?
RHYS: Pay attention, no yet another than me is aware of what a present Philip Jennings was and what I acquired to play with that character. I at all times take it again to its base stage, which for me is, once I learn one thing, am I on this script? Do I wanna know the way it ends? Do I care about these folks? How would I play this character? With the primary episode of Perry Mason, I used to be like, “I’m on this individual. I really like how cracked he’s. And I wanna understand how this ends.” These, to me, are the markers of whether or not I’ll wanna do one thing and I’m , at its most straightforward stage, and I used to be.
Actors typically speak about desirous to be challenged or scared by a personality. Have been these emotions additionally there? Have been there issues that you just felt nervous about, or ways in which you thought the character may actually problem you?
RHYS: I don’t assume there’s anybody that I’ve performed, that hasn’t challenged me, and that’s a part of it. I’m certain rock climbers have a look at rock faces and go, “That appears fascinating. I’d prefer to have a go at that.” I don’t know why I made that analogy, but it surely’s form of like that. I checked out it and thought, “That will be fascinating to play. I ponder if I might do this.” The opposite large curiosity was that it’s an origin story. When the Downeys (Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey) stated, “We need to redo Perry Mason, however we wanna begin with the origin story,” I genuinely went, “Oh, yeah, that might be fascinating. How did he turn out to be a protection legal professional?” After which, the large curiosity for me was in his reluctance and restraint of changing into a protection legal professional, and as soon as he does, how did he then turn out to be an excellent one? How do you construct to believably pondering, “Sure, I can see why this individual is an efficient protection legal professional?” There’s a luxurious afforded to an actor who will get to do this on display screen. As nervous as I used to be, as an actor, at the start of these court docket scenes, that’s what the character is, as nicely. You’re afforded that luxurious, in actual time, which is a rarity, but it surely additionally challenges me. On the finish, you’ve gotta plausibly imagine that this man can really do it. That was one other large problem for me, which I loved.
Clearly, once you inform everybody that that is the origin story for the character, it offers a way that there’s extra story to inform. Have there been conversations a few greater plan for this character?
RHYS: There has. The fee was a restricted collection, and that’s what it was HBO. They’ve talked a few second collection, however I believe that’s depending on how this primary one broadcasts. However on the time, that’s all there was, and that’s all they got down to do, initially, to see the way it does. So, I believe we’re gonna see how the subsequent few months pan out, earlier than HBO comes to a decision, if there’s anymore in Perry Mason’s future.
You directed episodes of The Individuals and Brothers and Sisters, so if the present continues, would you prefer to direct an episode of it?
RHYS: I might, and I wouldn’t. This present is such an infinite present. If there was an episode whereby it was condensed or diminished to just some folks speaking, I’d definitely have an interest, however with the enormity of it, it’d nearly be unattainable to prep a present like this when you’re taking pictures. So, who is aware of if that might even be a dialog.
Perry Mason is a person who wears a hat, and once you’re going to be identified for sporting a hat, you need to get the hat proper. Was the hat that you just put on at all times the hat, or did you strive on a number of hats?
RHYS: There have been a number of hats. We tried a number of hats. I actually loved the method of constructing this man, costume smart, ‘trigger I used to be afforded that luxurious of approaching early and serving to to decide on a few of the key crew. The costumes had been one thing that actually mattered to me on this, and we had been extremely lucky to have Emma Potter, who’s an unbelievable costume designer, and we labored collectively in constructing Mason’s silhouette. I had some sturdy concepts about what I needed him to appear like, and we each agreed the had was gonna be essential, so we tried on a number of hats. I’ve an enormous head, as nicely, so that you want an enormous hat to make an enormous head look proportionate. I attempted on some large hats.
On the identical time, do you develop a love/hate relationship with the hat as a result of you need to put on it lots? Is it a kind of issues the place you possibly can’t wait to get it off, or does it assist you actually embody the character?
RHYS: You’ve nailed it. It’s a love/hate. There are occasions when the hat is an absolute savior as a result of you possibly can take it off, you need to use it as a prop, and it affords you all method of issues. In the event you’re in a sticky second, it may be an infinite ally. After which, there are different instances, once you do battle scenes and the hat has to remain on as a result of, on the finish of the battle, it was on, so that they tape it to your head and it’s nonetheless falling off, and also you’re like, “I fucking hate this hat.” After which, on different days, you like the hat. So, it’s precisely that, love/hate.
Are you able to additionally actually admire a man like this, who doesn’t have the flamboyant facilities of somebody now, like a cellphone and a pc, and he actually has to get out and do the leg work when he’s working a case?
RHYS: That was one of many nice sights for me. I’m all about outdated analog knowledge. It’s one other factor I liked aboutThe Individuals. You couldn’t simply textual content somebody, or name them, if one thing occurred. I really like the actual time watching of an investigation, in an old-fashioned sense. I actually relish that, and I hope that’s a draw for the viewers, as nicely. You step again into one thing the place you see the legwork and it unfolds in a extra natural means, as issues used to, earlier than our thumbs turned like these of fighter pilots.
You’re additionally no stranger to intercourse scenes on TV, however the intercourse scenes, particularly within the first episode of this present, had been fairly humorous. What was it prefer to choreograph one thing like that, in order that as you slide out of bed, you don’t really find yourself getting harm?
RHYS: The props division had been very type, in padding the ground for me. One of many nice issues about (director) Tim Van Patten is that he’s all about constructing it with the actors, so what was really written ended up not occurring, in any respect. You strive it out and, if it’s not working and issues get in the best way, or it feels bizarre and you’ll’t fairly get to it, you develop it and also you say, “What if I do that?” The top results of that was a really natural construct, between Veronica [Falcón], myself and Tim. Tim had concepts, the place he needed to see Veronica’s character, Lupe, being the extra dominant one. In a means that we don’t essentially see typically, she’s essentially the most sexually dominant accomplice. There have been different components that had been aiding the choreography. He’s so not sure about that relationship, and somewhat bit misplaced, in so some ways, in his life, anyway. She is aware of precisely what she desires, which is definitely outlined in that scene and in that second. She’s like, “That’s what I would like. That is how I get it. I don’t care whether or not you do or don’t.” And he’s at all times left questioning. I believe it epitomizes a lot about these two.
What was that relationship like between you, the showrunners, Ron Fitzgerald and Rolin Jones, and director Tim Van Patten? Particularly working as an govt producer on this collection, what was it prefer to work and collaborate inside that relationship, and actually discover that feel and appear for all of it?
RHYS: It was simply very collaborative. The Downeys had been very beneficiant in providing me a producing function and stated, “Pay attention, we wanna construct this with you, and construct this world.” Tim Van Patten was unbelievable about working collectively and constructing one thing collectively. He’s one of many foremost administrators I’ve ever labored with who does that, and who very a lot trusts the actor. I believe that’s years of expertise, the place what is going to work and what doesn’t, so that you permit everybody simply to do their job correctly. It was definitely one of the crucial collaborative experiences I’ve ever had.
What was it like working with this unbelievable ensemble, together with John Lithgow and Shea Whigham, and this complete group of actually proficient folks? What was the enjoyable in exploring these dynamics and attending to
RHYS: The enjoyable definitely got here from that group of individuals. We had been simply lucky that everybody who turned up had been titans of their recreation – John [Lithgow], Tatiana [Maslany] and Shea [Whigham]. They turned up, realizing throw the ball round, and needed to play and do the perfect work attainable. It was definitely an ego-less set. Particularly with folks like John Lithgow, the primary time he walked onto the set, I used to be awestruck as a result of he’s somebody I’d grown up watching. He additionally is available in and simply nails it. He’s a kind of professionals who is available in and simply hits it, and also you’re like, “Oh, god, I’ve gotta up my recreation right here.” Everybody who got here on set, together with Juliet [Rylance] and Chris Chalk, had been actors who had been extremely ready and able to do their finest. The bar was at all times excessive on that set, which is the perfect motivator, ever.
Perry Mason airs on Sunday nights on HBO.