Steve Carell and Domhnall Gleeson did extensive research about therapists and patients before starting a 10-episode FX series, The Patient. But they knew they couldn’t create characters based on other situations.
“You don’t play the quest,” Carell explains. “Because then it is very thin. You try to get to the first day as prepared as you can. But once you’re there, it’s either inside you to a certain extent or it’s not.”
Gleeson adds: “All I could do was play the person in front of me. There are different types of people who kill people and Sam was very specific.”
In the series, Gleeson’s Sam Fortner is a serial killer. He has taken a therapist (Carell’s Alan Strauss) hostage and, over the course of their relationship, discovers details about his past. To make sure he doesn’t try to escape, Sam ties Alan to a bed.
For the film’s director, it was a challenge to ensure that a one-room story was cinematically interesting.
“It looked completely different depending on the time of day and night,” director Chris Long says of the set.
For Carell, it was an interesting “what if” scenario.
“We were really into it all day,” he says. “When they chained me up, it was a real lock with a real key, and I thought, ‘Boy, if there’s an earthquake or fire, I hope somebody thinks twice about letting me out of here.’ All this added to the atmosphere of the space.”
Both actors did not consider “The Patient” to be an extended TV series or movie.
“Separating it from a form aspect would not have been helpful to me,” says Gleeson. “It was just talking to the person in front of me and trying to figure out what the connection was.”
“Patient”, as a result, has episodes of varying length. “Some days, you’re like, ‘This is going to be such a heavy day because we have to go to a really dark place,'” Gleeson says. “And you’d end up having the best time and go home.”
While Gleeson was able to walk across the room, Carell could not. That limited his options, but it also came with other benefits: Gleeson’s character is a foodie, so he brings the hostage’s processed foods.
The feature was designed to turn the serial killer into a “more complete” human being, says co-creator Joe Weisberg. “You never associate a serial killer with food, so it seemed like it would be good.”
Carell, for the most part, listened.
“I’d like to fool myself into thinking I’d be a good therapist,” he says. “I like to listen to people and that’s probably the most important aspect of it. But I don’t think therapy means that someone is going to solve your problems. I see a therapist as someone who helps you connect the dots and asks you about things that can lead you to find and draw your own conclusions.”
At first, Weisberg says, he and co-creator Joel Fields were eager to explore the idea of a serial killer who wanted to get better, “instead of just being the crazy killer that you normally think of. We had to do some research to find out if this was a real thing or something ridiculous we just made up. We soon found out that it was realistic.”
Both the actors say they had a great time doing the series.
“One of the things I loved about working with Domhnall was that he’s very serious about his work, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously,” Carell says. “For me, this is the ideal combination. When it’s time to achieve what you’re both aiming to achieve, you’re of one mind and you do it.
“There were moments of funny levity between the more terrifying moments. But we discussed it with each other and I think we were very in tune.”
Gleeson adds: “It was a perfect work experience for me.”
“The Patient” premieres Tuesday on Hulu.
©2022 STLtoday.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Copyright 2022 Tribune Content Agency.