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‘Physical’ EP and director discuss season finale’s biggest moments


In the episode, which begins streaming on Friday, Byrne’s Sheila sees her aerobics business open to potential new doors, her husband’s election ending up in trouble, and After a cake-related explosion, her mutual attraction to developer John Breem (Paul Sparks) turns into a novel phase.

In an interview with CNN, executive producer Annie Weisman and director Stephanie Laing, who directed seven of the show’s 10 freshman season episodes, break down the action and reveal what’s to come. in Part 2.

This conversation has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity. It includes discussions of eating disorders that some may see as triggers.

CNN: I’d like to start by thanking you both for a TV season that I can’t stop thinking about. It’s jarring and annoying and a great, concrete story. I was mad at Sheila all this time, but I was also mad at her. What do you want this finale to be about her journey?

Annie Weisman, executive producer: After a while, she was about to walk out the door of that house. I always knew we wanted to live up to the difficulty of that at the time – you know the danger of that. She’s spent a lot of her life controlling her threatening emotions – reigning them, repressing them. We know that there will be some release when it happens. And the screenwriters came up with the idea for this unique kind of sexual connection that occurred between her and John Breem (Paul Sparks), which eventually became the most Covid-friendly sex scene ever filmed in a movie. number of ways. Completely by accident.

Director Stephanie Laing on set

CNN: I was going to talk about the scene where they indulge themselves in front of each other, but let’s dive in. Stephanie, tell me about directing this finale.

Stephanie Laing, director: It starts on the page, doesn’t it? Everyone is very well rewarded. All are built up to this point. And I agree with you, you’re hating Sheila and then you’re in love with Sheila and you want her to win. So when she finally does something, I think everyone is cheering by her side.

For me, the finale was the premiere. It’s building, building, building. When you let her in episode nine, she said, ‘This is how we win,’ she gained confidence and, for lack of a better way to put it, the women would start This first step into the future that we will learn more about.

Weisman: Also, the last little leash that bound her to Danny’s dreams was that election, and when that happened, finally… that freed her to walk out the door. there and there is a different kind of release. And she spent way too much time getting rid of her emotions and inflicting malicious words and acts on her body. It was very rewarding to see her do this. It was an embarrassing and unusual feeling, but it was a moment of joy and connection in her body and delight to behold.

And in terms of being actors, it’s important to talk and make sure they know that what we’re suggesting is really about the placement of their eyes, and it’s really about connection and romance. Education is really just more suggestive than obvious. The performances are really brave and really great.

Laing: I think that says everything about ‘Physical’. Capture it, behind the scenes and what you see on the screen is that everyone has really created a safe space for all.

CNN: I want to ask you about those two characters because I don’t understand much about the physical chemistry between them. They are like two repressed people who realize themselves in each other. Can you talk about their dynamic a bit and where does that go in this second season with that?

Weisman: I totally agree with that. I think they have something that they recognize in each other. There was something familiar when they looked at each other, and it crossed a great distance. They are very different. Both were married to other people, they were different in politics, their beliefs were different. It won’t work. But I think they recognize the vulnerability in each other, and they realize they share the same desire for power and want everything because of that trauma. That’s really like working on a subconscious level, but I think it’s true that there’s some kind of pain you can get into. [in] other people’s eyes, and that’s what they see in each other. So there is a connection. I don’t think it’s a very good connection, anyone can call it a very sane connection, but it is a connection. They are in a kind of collision of each other, and that will continue through the end of the second season.

Photos from the set

CNN: Let’s talk about Sheila’s eating disorder. Speaking from experience, it’s a long road to wanting to get better from something like this – much less in fact. I don’t understand yet that she wants to give it up. Where does that take us in Season 2?

Weisman: That’s right. I don’t think she did. And the great thing about continuing to explore it in the second season is that the inner voice is the dramatization of the eating disorder. It’s almost like she’s in an abusive relationship with it, and there are times when she almost walks away and it’s like pulling her back. I think, as you just said and this is my experience, there is fear without which you will really lose. [Weisman has opened up about her own experience with an eating disorder in the past.] The lie it tells you – which I think is similar to an abusive relationship – is, “Without me, you’d lose everything that made you you–everything that made someone fall in love with you.” you, all the things that make you good at anything. They’d be gone without me.” That’s a message that’s hard to get rid of. The hard part with any form of recovery is really being willing to feel your emotions instead of hiding from them. So she’s far more advanced than when we met her, but she still has a long way to go.

Laing: You can see that in her friendships too, as that’s part of it too – like her friendship with Greta (Dierdre Friel). There was a moment when she said, “I have a hard time making friends with women.” She said a lot in that moment.

CNN: I remember thinking that scene was a big milestone for her. I also think the kitchen scene in this episode with Danny is a great moment. It was extremely upsetting to see him talk directly about her eating disorder for the first time but there seemed to be no real concern or care for her. When he popped the ice cream into her mouth, I felt bad for Sheila.

Laing: Again, it’s very honest. And you have Rose [Byrne] extremely talented person and Rory [Scovel], who finally managed to hold back tears. From his own character’s point of view, he had no idea what Sheila was going through. He’s too self-hungry. But even if he doesn’t hang up, he just doesn’t realize it at all. He denied.

Weisman: And in recognition of his merit, she did not let him in. The funny thing about how the show works is that we can get access to her thoughts but no one else can. She is very good at hiding them. He can’t react to things she doesn’t allow him to participate in. I think that’s even more true in this one [time] period without much language around and discussion of eating disorders. But it’s even true now. People are really good at hiding it and hiding it. But if you’re talking about the whipped cream scene, Rory was really nervous doing that scene. He is as far away from this character as one could be; he’s just a great actor. He was very worried that it would cross a line that you would never be able to return to because it was really aggressive. It’s an attack, that’s the idea.

Laing: He would walk around for days, “Is today cream day?” “Is it day cream puffs?”

Weisman: For weeks, he was wringing his hands. Sweet Rory.

CNN: ‘Attack’ is a good word for it because, empirically speaking, when you have an eating disorder, what you eat, how you eat it, and who sees you eat it are all things that matter. deeply personal and cause. When I was at my worst, what Danny did would make me feel so violated.

Weisman: I’m sorry to hear that, and grateful you introduced it because it was part of the mindset. You know, a lot of times, I think eating disorders, bulimia and bulimia can be a big deal for a lot of people. Part of the goal for all of us – the creative team and me and Stephanie have talked about this a lot – is to really take it seriously and really see how violent it is and how painful it is. That’s a lot of thinking behind that scene.

CNN: In the end, launching a show at this point is tough because there’s a lot of great stuff out there, but you’ve been renewed for a second season, so that means some people are watch and love it. Did you find out who your audience is on the show and does that inform your next approach?

Laing: Of course, a lot of women have contacted me about the program, but I am surprised how many men have contacted me. So much so that two days ago someone came up to me and said, “I really think we should talk about male eating disorders. We have this too. Why isn’t this being talked about? ?” Because we’re so honest and serious about it and taking it seriously, it’s opening up a conversation that it might not have been able to before.

Weisman: The same, similar. I have to say, there were a lot of women who reached out and talked to me, but I was really surprised by the men and the type of men who approached and who responded and who talked about it. . . It was emotional and exciting to hear from some of the guys. I’m going to say some real guys – some certified guys – who are intrigued and interested in the show because I think it’s flipping some of the assumptions and ideas they already have, and that’s really interesting. I feel like we just have to stay on track in terms of telling the truth and being honest and having the tone that we have and letting people come to the show rather than to them.

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