When Jury Duty Executive Vice President David Bernad with Casting Approached by director Susie Farris to find a jury series for his Freevee mock documentary, he knew exactly how to pitch the project. “He said, ‘This is what you do best: make an ensemble comedy,'” Faris recalled the first call with producers, adding that he wasn’t “looking for names.” But when she asked about the script, she was caught off guard by the answer — no.
That’s because it was largely improvised Jury Duty tells of a completely bogus civil case where every courtroom Individuals—judges, bailiffs, lawyers, jurors, plaintiffs and defendants—are actors. All but one: Ronald Gladden, an ordinary guy living in Los Angeles who believed it all to be absolutely true from the beginning of jury selection to the conclusion of the trial.
Farris was not involved in the casting of Gladden, the comedy series created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, nor was she involved in hiring one of the A-list stars: James Marsden ( James Marsden, who plays an upgraded version of himself who reluctantly performs his civic duties as a member of a jury. (The final episode reveals not only how the ruse was pulled off, but also how Gladden was chosen from a pool of would-be jurors who applied to appear in a docu-series about the court system.)
“We came up with a very generic breakdown,” Farris said, noting that one requirement was that each potential juror be a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 — just like in real life. Naturally, that hasn’t narrowed the talent pool, and the show’s writers are planning specific pacing and storylines without specifying who their characters will be.
In her search, Farris was looking for actors who felt “like real people, rather than beautiful L.A. [actors] doing TV shows.” Another key requirement: Gladden couldn’t be (called “Heroes” behind the scenes) recognize them before the whole premise and production fall apart. “We’re really looking for people who can come up with creative things to talk about while keeping their feet on the ground, and probably not too far off from them [in real life] because they’re going to have to live in these three roles,” Farris said. weeks.”
The actors playing jurors and understudies are a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar for Farris. “What’s great is that I hire [a small number of] people I know who can do something bigger, and they don’t have a starring role on the show,” she said. “It’s so refreshing, and it reminds me when I first started casting, it wasn’t just about the name game—you cast the best actors because they were the right ones for the role. [ No longer] this happens very rarely, so it was really, really interesting.”
After the jury was formed, Farris had to find court professionals. These include Trisha LaFache, who plays the plaintiffs’ attorney, and Evan Williams, the opposing committee. “I’ve known Theresa from the beginning of my career, and I didn’t know she had an impressive legal background and a legal career in New York,” admits Faris, who also plays former lawyer Ellen Barinholtz-Actor Ike and Jon’s father, Barinholtz – as the trial judge. “The important thing is that they do have [legal] experience,” Farris added. “So much is improvised and they need to provide a lot of ground for what they say.”
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter Magazine 6 in the independent issue of the month. To receive this magazine, click here to subscribe . 1402 1402