DUBAI: There’s no mistaking a Danny McBride creation. While he may be best known for his pure acting work in “This is the End,” “Alien: Covenant,” and many more, McBride has spent the last 12 years at HBO creating some of the best and most outrageous satire of the century, including “Eastbound and Down,” “Vice Principals,” and his latest and greatest hit, “The Righteous Gemstones,” the second season of which is currently showing on OSN.
McBride’s characters, whether he’s playing them or writing them, are often imbued with similar traits. They’re charming, venal, bombastic, over-grown children who are thriving in a world to match, with a deeply-felt id-driven humanity guiding their every action that makes them impossible to hate. With “The Righteous Gemstones,” McBride has crafted his most over-the-top family to date, a group of superstar televangelists who have grifted millions by packaging and selling virtues that they themselves lack entirely.
That kind of creative environment has attracted top-tier acting talent to the show, including John Goodman, who plays the family’s patriarch, and season 2 newcomer Eric Andr?. (Supplied)
“It’s wild to see this spectacle. There’s this mix of showmanship and celebrity, paired with this ancient faith, and there’s so much going on in this world that I still can’t get my head around it,” McBride tells Arab News. “I was attracted to the idea of a pastor seeing themselves as a celebrity. A lot of the characters that I’ve worked on before had this inflated sense of themselves; pastors who see themselves as rock stars (are) the epitome of that specific sort of flawed ego.”
“These are people that we see in the news, but they don’t they don’t seem real. I think it’s fascinating to flesh these people out in a story (and) see them as humans,” says Cassidy Freeman, who plays Amber, the wife of McBride’s character Jesse Gemstone.
McBride has also increasingly been stretching himself creatively and stepping behind the camera. He wrote the new “Halloween” trilogy alongside his longtime friend and collaborator David Gordon Green, swapping comedy for outright horror, and directed multiple episodes of “The Righteous Gemstones.”
McBride’s characters, whether he’s playing them or writing them, are often imbued with similar traits. (Supplied)
“I think because he gets a lot of credit as kind of a national treasure, he doesn’t get credit for what an incredibly good writer and filmmaker he is,” says Tim Baltz, who plays BJ in the show. “As a director, he’s so efficient. It’s really shocking. He’s so respectful of each of us, and gives us agency, because he and the producers trust their casting, which allows you to go deep inside of yourself and come up with new wrinkles for the character. You’re never afraid that you’re going to guess wrong. It’s very improv friendly.”
For Edi Patterson, who plays one of the Gemstone siblings and writes on the show, McBride is the life-blood of the series.
“Danny has got such a fast and clever mind. I don’t know if just being a fan of his shows (lets) you understand how incredibly smart you have to be to make something as complicated as the Gemstones world,” she says. “And he’s such an interesting collaborator. It’s a very ‘Yes, and’ kind of vibe, where his ideas almost always spark funny ideas from me, and then we will build back and forth. He’s so much fun.”
That kind of creative environment has attracted top-tier acting talent to the show, including John Goodman, who plays the family’s patriarch, and season 2 newcomer Eric Andr?.
‘The Righteous Gemstones’ is by Danny McBride. (Supplied)
“I learn something new every time I watch an episode. This show is the best of both worlds, having this 10-part dense story structure like ‘Game of Thrones,’ but with a dysfunctional family at its heart that everyone can relate to, while remining heightened, super-specific and nuanced inside the world of people who make millions through donations based on summoning people’s spirit and attention for pure profit,” says Andr?.
Some tenured actors even had to fight to be a part of it. After falling in love with the first season, Academy Award-nominee Eric Roberts pushed hard to land an audition for the second, he was so desperate to work with McBride.
“I really went after this part. My wife and I did an at-home audition and we sent it in and just got lucky,” says the 65-year-old Golden Globe winner. “Danny McBride is a genius. These scripts are fantastic. Every character is completely different from all the other characters. There are no repeats. It’s such a cool show to be a part of, because it’s the real deal.
“I’ve worked with so many groups in my life, but I’ve never had a group in front of and behind the camera that was so perfect in my career. Everybody is aces,” he continues. “Standing in a boxing ring holding a gold-plated gun across from John Goodman was just icing on the cake for me.”