Patricia Arquette Talks 'Severance' and the show's SAG Awards Nominations
Moviefone speaks with Patricia Arquette about 'Severance.' "There's nothing like being nominated by your peers and we're just honored," Arquette said.
Academy Award winning actress Patricia Arquette (‘Boyhood’) is among the cast of Apple TV+’s acclaimed series ‘Severance,’ which was directed by Ben Stiller and nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series at the upcoming 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
What is the plot of ‘Severance?’
'Severance' is about a biotechnology corporation called Lumon Industries, which uses a mindwipe medical procedure called "severance" to separate the consciousness of their employees between their lives at work and outside of it. One severed employee, Mark (Adam Scott), gradually uncovers a web of conspiracy. Arquette portrays Harmony Cobel, Mark's "unsevered" boss, who outside of work goes undercover as Mrs. Selvig, Mark's next-door neighbor.
Who is in the cast of ‘Severance?’
‘Severance’ stars Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, Tramell Tillman, Jen Tullock, Dichen Leachman, Michael Chernus, John Turturro, Christopher Walken, and Patricia Arquette.
How many 2023 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations did ‘Severance’ receive?
‘Severance’ was nominated for two SAG Awards including Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for Adam Scott, and the entire cast was nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Patricia Arquette about her work on ‘Severance,’ playing two characters, the success of the series, and the show’s Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.
You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interview with Patricia Arquette about ‘Severance.’
Moviefone: To begin with, what does it mean to you to have the cast nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series by your peers at the Screen Actors Guild?
Patricia Arquette: It's so exciting. I mean, everyone here worked really hard and in weird circumstances. But we have seasoned actors who've been around a long time that came in to play in this as ensemble and then we have younger actors who came out of theater and have given so much to this show. So we're all super excited and grateful. There's nothing like being nominated by your peers and we're just honored.
MF: You’ve worked with Ben Stiller before, both as an actor on ‘Flirting with Disaster’ and as a director on ‘Escape at Dannemora.’ So what was it like reuniting with him on this series?
PA: It was great. We worked together in ‘Escape at Dannemora,’ I was the actor and he was the director. But this has such a different tone, again, I'm blown away by Ben and his talent. I mean, the way that he sets up shots, the way he works with our cinematographer, Jessica Lee Gagné, the composition of things, and the tone, which we never could really understand as actors. Should we go funnier? Should we go darker? He had us kind of hovering somewhere in between, which gives the show a very unique kind of tension. I love working with Ben. I think he's one of the greatest directors we have in America.
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MF: You play two roles in the series, Harmony Cobel and Mrs. Selvig. Can you talk about the challenges of making them different, even though they are really the same character?
PA: Well, one of them is this woman who works in this corporation and she's worked her way up to this upper management position. She speaks in a way that she thinks sounds like leadership, authority and success. She's desperate to hold onto her position in this corporation. While at the same time she wants more glory for this company. She's doing something that's a little bit on the sidelines and she's trying to insinuate herself into this employee's life.
Now she has a lot of knowledge about this employee. So she knows the easiest way to get into his life is to play on his mommy issues, be the fumbling aunt next door who needs help. So she's putting on a character, using the knowledge she has of his emotional story, his emotional flaws, his emotional vulnerabilities. But while she's doing that, she actually realizes oh, we're laughing at the same time. Are we becoming friends? So she's kind of trying on these human feelings, and freedom. She has more emotional freedom as Ms. Selvig than she does as Ms. Cobel.
It's weird and interesting, and it's part of the conversation I think that you have with your director. Like, "I want to try this. Is that too far?" At first, they just gave me the pilot, so I didn't even really know where it was going at all. But to build these characters, to find that sound, I was listening to Mid-Atlantic movies like the sound in the 40’s in Hollywood, and then also ‘Maude,’ her (Bea Arthur) sound. Then looking at images like ‘Rhoda’, the TV show, for Ms. Selvig's wardrobe, taking inspiration from that and working with our wardrobe department to design that. It's all really fun, honestly.
MF: Finally, are you surprised by the show’s success and why do you think its resonated with audiences?
PA: I think people do feel like their work life consumes them. I don't know if people feel that satisfied with their everyday work life. Yet, in that work environment, we see these characters really trying to connect and forging these little kind of family pod groups. Then also on the outside, we see Mark's life. There's a lot of pain in the real world. There's a lot of pain outside and things that we want to run away from. I think as we get older, life isn't necessarily what we thought it would be like when we were teenagers.
Movies Similar to ‘Severance:’
- 'Flirting with Disaster' (1996)
- ‘Tropic Thunder' (2008)
- 'The Adjustment Bureau' (2011)
- ‘Boyhood' (2014)