From executive producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, and based on the British series of the same name that was created by Julia Davis, the HBO comedy series Camping follows the obsessively organized and controlling Kathryn (Jennifer Garner), who puts together what she thinks will be a delightful camping trip to celebrate her husband Walt’s (David Tennant) 45th birthday. Pretty quickly after arriving, this group’s bonds become tested, and the heightened emotions and tension that arise at the Brown Bear Lake campsite threaten to ruin the weekend. The series also stars Juliette Lewis, Ione Skye, Brett Gelman, Janicza Bravo, Arturo Del Puerto and Chris Sullivan.
At the L.A. press day for the series, Collider got the opportunity to sit down with co-stars Brett Gelman and Arturo Del Puerto, who talked about what drew them to this material, how much fun they had making the show, how well the cast got along, the biggest challenges of this shoot, and whether they’re fans of camping themselves.
Collider: It seems like you guys must have had a ton of fun making this show.
BRETT GELMAN: We had a lot of fun.
ARTURO DEL PUERTO: We had a tremendous amount.
GELMAN: The cast was a very familial situation, but in a good way.
Was it one of those experiences where you had to remind yourself that you’re actually also working and that you need to not just goof off?
GELMAN: No. The getting along with each other was happening, but it was also a tool for us to connect with the material. I believe in socializing being an important part of the acting process and that what you’re doing, you’re carrying into what’s happening on screen. We had to do that, in order to sell that we had been friends for so long too. Luckily, we liked each other.
DEL PUERTO: We’re supposed to be friends since college – George, Walt and Miguel.
GELMAN: Yeah, so we had to majorly sell that and, in our real lives, I don’t think you would ever believe that us three went to college together. No three people could be less likely to have gone to college together, but we really bonded. The whole group did. It was also important to be able to joke around. That allowed us to feel safe to lean into that tension and discomfort that the characters are feeling. That way, you can be like, “You can go there, and I’m here for you.”
What was the appeal of this project, for you? Was it getting to work with this cast, or was it specifically the script?
DEL PUERTO: It was the group of people – HBO, Lena [Dunham], Jenni [Konner], Jen [Garner] and the actors. Everything about the project just seemed exciting and I want to dive into it, as soon as possible.
GELMAN: Ditto. I’d always wanted to work with Lena and Jenni, and to be on a show on HBO. It’s so great.
Did you find that your sense of comedy lined up with theirs?
GELMAN: I think it lined up very well. It was more in the dramedy arena, so I thought it really lined up a lot. I wasn’t writing the show, so it’s your job, as an actor, to meld with the voice of the writer and not judge it, but serve it.
Working with such strong personalities, how did you find your place among this cast?
DEL PUERTO: It was easy to find my place among the acting cast because we really all liked each other. We do have very, very different and very, very strong personalities, but that’s one of the things that made it more interesting. We’re all so different, but at the same time, we were all able to connect with each other, on a very, very deep and very generous level. It wasn’t easy to bring it to life sometimes because we were in such heightened situations, but we were all so comfortable with each other that we were able to jump into those situations and still feel that you were in a safe space, creative space.
GELMAN: I don’t think anything is easy. I don’t like people who say that anything is easy. I think they’re assholes and I think they’re lying to themselves. You can feel confidence some days, but that immediately can leave you in the next moment. It’s always a matter of your ass being on the line, in terms of whether it’s gonna be good or bad, and a lot of the time, you don’t know.
DEL PUERTO: You’ve gotta trust the people behind the camera and you’ve gotta trust your fellow actors. There was a lot of trust involved, and trust is not easy. I don’t even trust my shadow sometimes, and I’ve got a gigantic shadow.
GELMAN: It’s really weird, it’s a very over-sized shadow. We joked around a lot and did a lot of bits. It was a very pro-bit set.
What was it like to work with Juliette Lewis?
DEL PUERTO: It was really fun. I learned a lot. It was an amazing experience. She brought a lot of great ideas, and we connected really great. My character and her character have a very interesting dynamic, in the sense that we love each other, and then she gives me a little tough treatment and I have to regain her love again. My character is going through this phase of, “I’m being emasculated, but at the same time, I’m having so much sex.” It’s a real paradox there. But, it was really fun to work with her. We had a lot of fun shooting together. We bounced ideas off of each other. It was a great experience.