‘Goliath’ Star Billy Bob Thornton & His Co-Stars Talk About the Final Season of the Series
Thornton and his co-stars Jena Malone, Tania Raymonde, and Nina Arianda discuss the final season, and how much they’ll miss the show.
In the final season of the Amazon Prime Video series ‘Goliath,’ Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton) takes on the pharmaceutical industry, and he’s joined in that battle by Samantha Margolis, played by Jena Malone. Thornton, Malone and series regulars Nina Arianda and Tania Raymonde talked to Moviefone about the show’s fourth and final season.
First, Billy Bob Thornton talks about saying goodbye to the series.
Moviefone: What big Goliath is Billy McBride tackling in season four?
Billy Bob Thornton: This time, its the big pharmaceutical companies. And that is a Goliath, for sure.
MF: Absolutely. Each season has been so great, and I'm so sad to see it ending. What has been the thing that you have loved most about playing Billy McBride?
Thornton: You know, I loved every day. I loved playing that character. It was very close to what I would be if I were a lawyer in LA. And when I read the script in the beginning, I thought, yeah, that's kind of me there. And so it kind of fit like a glove, as they say. I loved all the co-stars and the cast who came in and out, and the guest stars for each season. The cast and crew were always wonderful. And I got to shoot at home here in LA.
It wasn't a tension filled set, like you read about. People always say... It sounds corny, but they say it became a family. But it really did. After that long, it does. You know? And so you miss people. And you always think that you're going to stay in touch, but usually maybe you stay in touch with a couple of people, but for the most part, people are so busy, you go your different ways. And so hopefully we'll reconnect somewhere down the road. But I'm going to miss the people and the stories. The writers were so good on it. Steve Turner and Jennifer Ames were just terrific writers and so easy to talk to about things, about dialogue or the characters or the story and that kind of thing. The locations were great because we actually used LA properly, and the final season, San Francisco. But I guess probably the thing I'll miss the most is probably playing that character.
MF: I noticed your name as directed by after the first episode of season four. Is that the only episode you directed in this series?
MF: And you haven't directed in a while, right? Movie or TV or anything.
Thornton: In probably a decade anyway.
MF: What was the decision to direct this episode, and what was that experience like?
Thornton: They said, "Hey, how would you like to direct an episode this year?" And I said, "Nah, you don't want me to do that. I don't consider myself a director." And they said, "Aw, come on." And then my manager said, "Do it." And he has some kind of odd Svengali power over me. I don't know. But it turned out I actually enjoyed it. My episode, the first one, is sort of the more artsy kind of episode, and also you have to set everything up for the season. So it's not the big splashy episode, which I actually preferred. I like to direct more character based things. And so it was good. And also having a hand in who was cast for different parts was really nice. I have had a say-so the whole time, but when you direct the first episode, you get a little bit more juice that way.
Next, series newcomer Gena Malone talks about joining the show and working with Thornton.
Moviefone: How would you describe this season of 'Goliath?'
Jena Malone: Well, what's interesting about 'Goliath' is it always sort of tends to tackle a big American crisis while it's also exploring the sort of humanity or the everyday in that, so here we are in tackling, trying to understand the pharmaceutical industrial complex with big pharma and the opioid crisis, and then, you have on the human level, people who are just dealing with pain, right? And just pain in different ways, whether it's like you're affected personally by physical pain, emotional pain, deep-rooted trauma or someone that you know is affected, a family member. It's sort of, that's kind of the critical point that this, we meet all of the characters.
MF: What did you love most about playing Samantha?
Malone: I feel like I was given, as an actor thing, I had so many things that I had to learn about. I had to learn about how to be a lawyer, running and managing a law firm, which is enough in itself to learn about. And then also understanding sort of chronic pain, where you're having to live with a medical condition that can be debilitating at times, and how to sort of allow that physical body to enter the world of the legal system, which is high paced, high stakes, high fast. Everything's very intense. And I felt like I was constantly trying to kind of figure out how the two could work together.
MF: What's Billy Bob Thornton like as a scene partner?
Malone: He's like a thoroughbred. He'll go anywhere. He's very professional, but also very forgiving and kind, and he'll go off book, on book. He's very game for anything, which I find sometimes my favorite kind of sparring partner.
MF: You were talking about what was going on and there's pain, and there's just so much going on. And all the things you mentioned, I feel Sam Margolis is going through.
Malone: Well, it's her father's firm, and it's slowly crumbling. She's having to hold it all together and not have to basically fold the firm whilst also dealing with one of the biggest lawsuits, multi-billion dollar lawsuits within big pharma and trying to sort of... It's not an easy game to enter. There's a lot of high stakes there.
MF: Were you a fan of 'Goliath' before you got this role?
Malone: I didn't know the series. I just wasn't watching a lot of series in my parent journey at that time, but then I got to catch up all of the seasons, and I'm a really big fan, so.
Tania Raymonde talks about how much she's enjoyed working on the series.
Moviefone: How would you describe season four of 'Goliath?'
Tania Raymonde: Season four of 'Goliath' picks up in the same tradition as all the other seasons, but this year, Billy is fighting back against big pharma. And it's all about the opioid epidemic, which is super topical and interesting in this show because we get to see what it is behind the curtain. So, we all know, a lot of shows show what it's like to suffer from opioid addiction and what drugs do, destroying families and all that, but here we really get to see where the money and power's involved and who the lawyers are that represent these drug companies and how they're connected to the pharmaceutical distributors and all the little ways in which it works behind the curtain. So, to me, it was super informative and also really interesting for that one reason of like how this big business of drug manufacturing works and how twisted it is. Yeah.
MF: Last season, 'Goliath' tackled the big issue as well, water rights, so I'm just wondering when you get the script, like when you got the script for the season, and you knew it was going to be about big pharma and the opioid crisis, do you do any research for that?
Raymonde: Yeah, I mean, we read a lot about... I think that the show is loosely based on the Sackler family, who are the family that made Oxycontin. And they're the ones that have just been on trial and are now in serious trouble, finally, and all that, but it's been really cool on Goliath from the beginning because every story is sort of loosely followed like a real life headline, whether it's the drug cartels or the water thefts in the Central Valley last year with almond farming, which I knew nothing about. It takes a gallon of water to make one almond. I mean, I'd never known that before. I certainly didn't know that people have amputee fetishes. That was really new for me, also, so I learned that from Goliath, and then, this year really seeing how these drug companies, how they get away with what they get away with was really cool. So, yeah. So, there's been a lot of, for the writers, especially, a lot of research done trying to make this as real as possible.
MF: What's your favorite thing about playing Brittany Gold?
Raymonde: I think she's super brave, and I don't know, she's a really good example of like, you aren't defined by what you do, and you can make mistakes in your life when you're young and still recover. She's super smart and really kind of a bold, brave person, and I find that admirable. I wish, in some ways, like I try to mimic that because it's scary being brave sometimes. I like that about her.
MF: You know, Billy Bob Thornton is such an icon in the industry. What's it like having him as a scene partner?
Raymonde: It's like the best feeling in the world. I feel so spoiled. I wish I could, I would act in movies for the rest of my life with Billy, and everybody on the show feels the same. He makes it so fun and easy, and it just feels like real life, so I don't even know if you'd call it acting really, whomever works with him is extremely lucky. It's been such a fun ride with everyone, and him, especially.
MF: It's been four incredible seasons, even for us as an audience, and all the great guest actors you've had on the different seasons. How do you feel now that it's done?
Raymonde: You know, when really good things happen to you, you just live through it as it goes on, and then, you look back on it, and you think, "Wow, that was so cool." William Hurt and Maria Bello and getting to work with these... Beau Bridges and Dennis Quaid, Amy Brenneman, Bruce Dern, JK Simmons, Dwight Yoakam. I mean, I can't believe the cast of the show and every single year, that everyone, that they got these new, fabulous actors to join and Billy at the center of it all and Nina Arianda and all the... I mean, it's been like a complete dream. I can't believe it. It's like too many great things happening in one show at once. I wish it were more spread out.
Nina Arianda shares her love for her character and the production as a whole.
Moviefone: What do you love about your character, Patty Solis-Papagian?
Nina Arianda: I love her straightforwardness. I love that she's pretty brazen, mildly unfiltered, and still vulnerable at the same time, and it's a pleasure to play a character that's that layered.
MF: Is she vulnerable? I guess she is vulnerable, but she puts on a really hard front. It's like, to me, nothing phases her.
Arianda: Oh yeah, I think that's certainly the external. I think internally, I think she occasionally questions herself. I think she questions her life decisions, career-wise, is she valuing herself enough? And which I think is kind of great about this season is that we do finally see Patty owning her talents unapologetically.
MF: What is the subject of season four?
Arianda: In season four, we're we're tackling the opioid crisis in America, and the influence that pharmaceutical companies have pushing these drugs with the full knowledge that they are, in fact, addictive and have deadly consequences.
MF: What is it like working with Billy Bob Thornton as a scene partner?
Arianda: I mean, again, I don't want to sound cliché, but it really is a dream scenario, because you're working with somebody who's always on it, always present, always generous, fun. You really kind of can't ask for anybody better.
MF: This is the last season, the final season, so kind of what are you feeling now that it's ending?
Arianda: Sad. I think sad, but also very grateful. I think anyone who's a fan of the show or was a fan working on the show, we're going to have to go through a couple of stages of grief, and eventually we'll get to acceptance, but all the while, loving the experience.
MF: The series for an audience has been a great experience. It's been really fun to see these three central main characters, but every season there's been a whole cast of great actors who have come in. What is that like for you, having a new storyline and new actors each season?
Arianda: It's terribly exciting. It's terribly exciting, and nerve-wracking too. This year, I couldn't believe that I was in the presence of Bruce Dern, or JK Simmons. I was nervous. At first, I was scared to go up and say hi, so Billy had to introduce me, and it turned out to be brilliant.
MF: And the show has gotten, I think, more noir as it's gone on through the seasons, and this season, I love the setting, San Francisco, and Chinatown and the back alleys. What were the sets like for you?
Arianda: Incredibly magical, really? I was thinking when I was on set at one point, I was like, "Boy, my four-year-old self would just lose her mind," because you're so in it. Your imagination can do anything, but kind of just explodes when you have set designers, the kind that we had, and the art department. It was gorgeous, from even the tiniest piece of gum on a cobblestone. I appreciate that kind of detail so much, because it adds to you being able as an actor to disappear.
The final season of 'Goliath' is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.