They talk very bluntly about “Blunt Talk”
Blunt Talk is a 10-episode half-hour series, set in Los Angeles, follows Walter Blunt, played by Patrick Stewart, a British import intent on conquering the world of American cable news. Through the platform of his nightly news show, Blunt is on a mission to impart his wisdom and guidance on how Americans should live, think and behave. Besieged by network bosses, a dysfunctional news staff, numerous ex-wives, children of all ages, and his own well intentioned, but sometimes misguided decisions, Blunt’s only support is in the form of the heavy-drinking, devoted manservant he transplanted from the U.K. Read what Adrian Scarborough and Jonathan Ames had to say about the show below:
Q: What made you want to take on this show?
A: Well this came in a very strange and peculiar way in that I never got sent a script but I got sent two scenes at the beginning before there was a whole script and one of them was the cocaine scene from episode one, which I read and fell off my seat laughing. And I thought what a wonderful character that would be to play. And then you do the usual thing, you put yourself on tape if you’re 5000 miles away and that gets digitally sent somewhere… I didn’t know who was involved either because they keep that information from me.
Q: Can you talk about your characters dynamic with Walter and some might see you holding the strings in that relationship?
A: Harry needs Walter as much as Walter needs Harry, really. You sort of find out later on, there is this fantastic, very emotional flashback to the campaign where you find out how they got glued together in the way that they did which is very moving. But yes, he is manservant, he is a valet, he does everything for them and I mean they bicker like man and wife often…it is about a relationship between a manservant and his boss… I love the idea that he has just distorted the form of it where it just goes left field every now and again but every morning he is there cooking him some porridge and some food or an egg and that all happens as perfectly and normally as that would happen in their relationship and then they practice their samurai routine and that sits just as comfortably. What’s wonderful is that they take that just as seriously as they would with anything in their lives. That’s what makes it such a joy to play.
Q: Can you talk about the Jeeves and Wooster relationship more because your characters are just like Jeeves and Wooster but on crack? Did you have any influences from it?
A: Well, I have played a lot of butlers in my time, actually and again what has been really interesting about it is that a lot of the butlers I have played have been incredibly straight laced so I felt like I kind of got that and knew where that was coming from. The bit that I didn’t get was the nuts bit, the crack. What is good about Jonathan is that he gives me such crazy shit to do so every day is a pleasure.
Q: What do you think about the different styles of humor in this show with the British actors doing American comedy? Is that sort of a culture collision there?
A: I was talking about this the other day and it occurred to me that I was brought up, in some senses, on as much American comedy as I was on English. I used to be allowed to stay up to watch “Taxi” which was on BBC2 at 9 o’clock, which at my tender age was a forbidden time…and then I think of “Frasier” and I think of “Cheers” and I think of “Will and Grace” and I go back even further than that to Harold Lloyd and Chaplin…and I just think all of—I love comedians too. I grew up with such a wonderful array of stuff. I am slightly nervous about how American audiences will take it and see it because I have done nothing over here before. And then I am worried about how English audiences will perceive it because it is Patrick and me…that scares me ever so slightly.
Q: We talked about the whole idea with Adrian about the Jeeves and Wooster on crack idea. Was that a conscious influence on you when writing it?
A: Oh, definitely. I am a long P.G. Wodehouse fan and I had a written a novel which was very much an homage to P.G. Wodehouse called “Wake Up, Sir!,” which there literally was a character named Jeeves…All to say that the original inspiration for the master/valet relationship would be Wodehouse.
Q: Did you write this role for Patrick Stewart in mind?
A: Very much so. This was written specifically for Patrick Stewart. How that came about was that Seth MacFarlane wanted to do a comedy with Patrick Stewart but he needed an idea for that comedy and so he approached writers and I happened to be the writer that came up with the idea that Seth liked which was to have Patrick Stewart play a cable news host. So I thought Patrick Stewart would look fascinating and formidable behind such a desk and that we could go behind the scenes of such an environment like the “Larry Sanders Show” and kind of get to know this looney staff. So this came to me because Seth MacFarlane wanted to come up with a vehicle for Patrick Stewart and wrote it for him in mind.
Q: Do you have fun writing the dialogue and putting Patrick Stewart in these crazy scenarios?
A: Well I do have fun writing dialogue that brings me pleasure. I keep notebooks of interesting lines and for me as a writer that making sentences is something I enjoy doing…there is a sense of meaning of purpose or use when you are writing a funny line. And then imagining Patrick in those circumstance, I just thought that if he is doing a comedy then let’s really go for it and create an unusual character for him and something that he has never played before. It’s fun to imagine him in these sorts of situations.
Q: And what is the process like for you to imagine these scenes and to get that idea in your head?
A: I often begin with an image because we are a visual medium and then I try to work back from that image. So probably there were two images that inspired the pilot, the first is a man alone at a bar and in a slight state of melancholy or despair and it talking to a bartender. And then I also had this image of two Patrick Stewarts talking to each other and then it was like, ‘how do I get to that?’
The STARZ original series “BLUNT TALK” premieres Saturday, August 22.