Last November, I was invited down to a location shoot of Hap and Leonard Season 3, “Two-Bear Mambo,” which films here in Georgia. I was actually the only press person on set that day, which made it a very different vibe than anything I had experienced visiting sets before. It was very much a regular working day, as one of the season’s most pivotal moments (from its fifth episode) was being filmed.
There were a few things that were really interesting in observing the production that day, including the way stars Michael K. Williams and James Purefoy work (in talking with one another about character motivations before these intense moments, and whether or not they choose to stay in that headspace between takes). But more than anything, it was the way that everyone involved — from the writers and EPs down the the PAs — were genuinely proud of the show. That’s not something that can be faked, even when media are present. You can often tell when actors have beef with the writers, or pick up on frustrations among department heads. But with Hap and Leonard, everyone was so joyous and positive about the series. They have good reason to be — the series is an oft-overlooked and underrated gem of Peak TV.
In its third season, based once again off of Joe R. Lansdale’s book series, Hap (Purefoy) and Leonard (Williams) go to a very dark place both literally and emotionally. They’re headed to Grovetown, 100 miles from their East Texas abodes in LaBourde, to find their missing friend Florida Grange (Tiffany Mack). Govetown is full of racists and Klan activity, and while our heroes have a knack for getting out of most scrapes, this one is costlier than they know. As Louis Gossett, Jr. told me (he’s a new addition this year, as a diner cook named Bacon who tries to warn the duo out of town), “It’s dark comedy but it’s real. It’s comedy, and some tragic stuff that happens. The scene we’re doing today is quite serious. But it’s also very important.”
While on set, I spoke to Gossett as well as Purefoy and Williams about the new season, what they’re most excited for fans to see, the unique relationship between Hap and Leonard, as well as the role that race plays in Season 3, and what they’re still learning about their characters: