Based on the popular UK series of the same name, Free Agents (premiering September 21st on NBC) is a romantic comedy that explores the trials and tribulations of finding love and companionship, the second time around. Newly divorced Alex (Hank Azaria) is missing his kids and trying to keep himself together. His co-worker Helen (Kathryn Hahn) thinks she has it together, but drinks too much in order to cope with her fiancé’s untimely death. After these two overworked PR executives share one night of passion, they are forced to cope with the awkward aftermath, while surrounded by an array of co-workers – which includes office boss, Stephen (Anthony Stewart Head, reprising his role from the original) – who are both helpful and meddling, at the same time.
During an interview to promote the new series, actor Anthony Stewart Head talked about the differences in the American version of the series, how fun it is to play someone who doesn’t have a care in the world, and that the comedy comes from human emotion and the messiness of real life. He also talked about how he still keeps in touch with his Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-stars, and what a hideous idea he thinks it is to remake the original film without any involvement from Joss Whedon. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
ANTHONY STEWART HEAD: I’m playing the same basic role, which is a guy who owns and runs the office. He has a different view of life. He’s an exhibitionist, in many ways. He’s just inappropriate, on every level. So, that’s the same. But ultimately, we will get to see a lot more of what makes him tick. It’s going to be more about the ensemble. It’s a translation.
Did they come to you in London and say, “We’d like to transfer this show to America, and we’d like you to do it”?
HEAD: Yeah, which was very nice and very cool.
Why did you decide to do this role again?
HEAD: Because it’s a lot of fun playing somebody who doesn’t have a care in the world. Also, it’s great playing comedy like this. It’s beautifully written. It’s got a great soul and a great heart to it. You don’t often get scripts like this. It was a no-brainer.
When you were doing Buffy, you had said how hard it was to go back and forth all the time. Is it any easier to shoot in L.A. this time?
HEAD: My kids are older and my partner’s work is basically taking her backwards and forwards. In fact, she’s doing lots of stuff around Europe, teaching and writing. We’re more mobile than we were. Both my girls are actresses, and they’re doing really, really well. Both of them have booked jobs, in the time that I’m shooting this.
Did they talk to you about who would be cast in this?
HEAD: We talked about Hank [Azaria] and Kathryn [Hahn]. I didn’t know the other guys particularly, but they told me Hank and Kathryn were doing it, and I was thrilled. The show that we made in England is the starting point for this show. It’s a bouncing off place, in the same way that waking up in bed together is the starting place for the show. It’s where we go from there, which makes it an interesting journey.
HEAD: Yes. It was originally set in a management office, and now it’s set in the world of , which is a completely different world. I can’t say there’s an arc because they’re going to be standalone episodes, but we’re going to have quite a lot of fun with it. This is American TV, not British TV.
How do you think the comedy in this version?
HEAD: When it’s comedy like this, which is witty and sassy, and based on real emotions and the messiness of real life, I think it basically translates the same. There are human emotions involved. With both the English show and the pilot of this, you want to know what happens to these people’s lives.
This series is romantic tension in reverse, in that they’ve already done it and now they’re trying to undo it, unlike most series, where you’re waiting to see if they are ever going to do it. Where do you go from there?
HEAD: There’s an attraction between them, but the bottom line is, “Are they right for each other?” They’ll have to play that out in the workplace, trying to have a business relationship, as well as her trying to help him as a friend, as much as having been a lover. It makes perfect sense. It has to be open-ended because you have no idea. There isn’t a real obvious conclusion.
What’s it like to be back on broadcast TV, at the same time as Sarah Michelle Gellar?
HEAD: I know, that is extraordinary. It’s cool. It’s nice to see everybody working. I keep in touch with everybody. We’re still a distant family. It’s going to be nice, being in L.A. and being able to see everybody.
HEAD: Oh, yeah. I saw him at Comic-Con.
How was Comic-Con for you?
HEAD: Comic-Con is a bizarre world. It’s wonderful. It’s nice, feeling the love. Everywhere you walk, you feel the love. I’m fortunate because people can’t put a label on me, which I embrace wholeheartedly. I’m taken under the sci-fi world’s wing and the fantasy world’s wing, but at the same time, I can do a show like this, which is about reality and real life. People don’t seem to be able to pigeonhole me yet, which is great.
What are your thoughts on the new Buffy movie?
HEAD: Joss wasn’t asked to do it. In fact, I think they went to great lengths not to ask him. I think it’s a hideous idea. Ultimately, he had the idea when he was 19. They changed the original concept, and I’m very glad that they’ve done very well with it ever since. All the power to them. But, I don’t think you take someone’s concept of something and then say, “Well, actually, we’re going to remake our concept of somebody else’s concept.” It’s nonsense. Not that I feel strongly about it.