Season 2 of the high-stakes, action-packed Crackle series Cleaners follows the equally gorgeous and lethal contract killers Veronica (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Roxie (Emily Osment) to a small island in the Caribbean where they think they are about to cash in, only to realize they have not yet escaped their past or Mother (Gina Gershon). The show also stars David Arquette, Missi Pyle, Esai Morales, Omar Avila, David Rees Snell and John Savage.
During this exclusive interview with Collider, actress Emmanuelle Chriqui (who is also an executive producer on the series) talked about how she came to be a part of Cleaners, how exciting it is to be a part of the new frontier of original programming, how daunting the stunt work is in such a limited amount of time, collaborating on the development of the story and characters, what made Emily Osment the perfect Roxie, and why they decided to change location for Season 2. Check out our Cleaners Season 2 interview after the jump.
EMMANUELLE CHRIQUI: The material was like, “I can’t wait to do this. I can’t wait to jump into this and challenge myself in all kinds of ways.” The other part of that is that there is still that weird stigma of it being a web series. Honestly, in the next couple of years, I don’t think that’s even going to be a conversation. It’s just that it’s still new. The fact remains that we’ve all tuned into Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, which are amazing television. It really won’t be a conversation. It’s exciting to be a part of the new frontier, but in a lot of ways, it’s a little challenging because you’re still competing with the networks and the cable companies, with the budget and the paycheck, and in every other way. But, you are getting to play in a very creative space where there are no red lights. You just go, and the sky is the limit, which is so exciting. I can still say to you that my dream is to have my own cable show. I love HBO and Showtime and FX, and all of those. That’s the programming that I actually tune into. I think it’s just exciting to know that Crackle original programming eventually could absolutely compete. It’s not there yet, but eventually.
And the fact that more and more people are binge-watching has changed how they’re willing to watch TV and what they’re willing to watch when they do.
CHRIQUI: People love that. The notion of downloading eight episodes at once and binge-watching them is just the new way. It’s so weird when you’re in the thick of change. It’s weird when you can look back on your life and go, I remember VHS and Beta tapes. I remember going to Blockbuster on a Friday night and renting movies. And then, I remember going to Blockbuster to rent DVDs. And then, I got an Apple TV five years ago and was like, “I’m not going to watch TV online. That’s ridiculous!” But then, I got an Apple TV this Christmas and hooked it up right away. Undeniably, this is the way of the future, period. It just is, and that’s cool. What’s cool about this is that we got to do something so playful, cool, kick-ass and over-the-top. When do we really get to do that? When do I get to be an action hero? Unless you’re Angelina Jolie, you just don’t really get the chance. So, I’m super grateful. I’m glad for the change.
CHRIQUI: It’s daunting. Yeah, it is an issue. Our stunt doubles are a giant part of our process. They have to be, for it to come off the way we want it to come off. These girls are not amateurs. They are full-on scary chicks. I can’t do that in three weeks. There’s no way! So, you really have to check your ego. I would love to do a film where I get a year to train and get myself in the sickest shape, and be able to shoot 10 different guns, and they pay me to do it, and I get really good at it. That’s a dream. Any actor loves to be able to transform themselves. That is not the case here. It’s fast. You learn whatever you can learn, and we collaborate and check our egos. My stunt double is amazing. I’m like, “Go to town, honey! Make me look amazing!” And everyone still thinks it’s me. It’s the best of both worlds. When I was training for this last year, three days before shooting, I dislocated my shoulder. Even though we have these amazing stunt doubles, it’s still super physical. We’re still shooting guns, throwing knives, rolling on the floor, jumping, running, riding ATVs and doing all kinds of crazy stuff, so we’ve gotta be in good shape. So, when that happened, the timing sucked.
As an executive producer on this, did you give any input into the story and character, as it developed?
CHRIQUI: Paul Leyden and I talked a lot about this idea of two sexy, smart, witty, kick-ass female assassins and how fun that would be. And he really took that and ran with it. We’d had so many conversations about how we wanted to create something that was heightened, but that still had some heart and soul to it. No matter how playful or crazy over-the-top it is, you still want to have heart and soul and some realism, even if it’s just a thread. Paul is an amazing writer. He writes so well for women. So, I said to Paul, “I would love to do X, Y and Z, and these are the things that I’m really good at,” he incorporated all of those things. And he’s also a dear friend, so he really knew how to write it. It was a collaboration, but at the end of the day, he wrote it and when I read it, I was like, “This is awesome! I can’t wait to do this!”
CHRIQUI: I was nervous about that. Our original concept, years ago, was called Betty & Veronica, but we had trademark problems because of the Archie comics. It was written for myself and Malin Akerman, who’s one of my best friends. And then, when we met Emily [Osment], it was better than we ever could have imagined. I always feel like, in the creative realm, oftentimes life imitates art or art imitates life. When we met, I was like, “This girl is Roxie. This is crazy!” She was younger, had an edge and was just so gung-ho. She was like, “Yeah, let’s do this!” And I was like, “Who is this cute little blonde? I love her! She’s totally scrappy.” People know her from Hannah Montana. She shocks everyone. She’s great. It worked out perfectly.
When you were getting ready to do the second season for this, what did you want to do, this time around, to top the first season?
CHRIQUI: Literally, the night that we wrapped Season 1, we were in downtown L.A. and the head of Crackle was there and we were celebrating. It had been a wildly successful shoot that was ambitious as hell, but we did it and we had a great time. I remember looking over at Paul, and with his Aussie accent, he was like, “We did it, babe!” This came out of our brain, however many years ago, and we all became such a team. And we went over to the head of Crackle and said, “Season 2 in Puerto Rico. How sick would that be?” Paul was very, very into a completely different look for it, for Season 2. Because it’s such a stylized looking show, and it’s a visual feast for your senses, it’s really important that visually we get accosted in a totally different way, and Puerto Rico was going to do that. And what’s nice is that it’s some Caribbean island. It doesn’t take place in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico can be all these different things, so we really used that to our advantage.
CHRIQUI: I really think that the material speaks for itself. In the industry, we got to a bit of a crisis point where actors really just want good material. Actors who you would think would never do something are craving great material, too. Paul wrote such an engaging, smart piece that I wasn’t surprised that we had a lot of people that were very, very interested. There were tons of people that wanted to do it, but we couldn’t meet their quotes, which was fine. At the end of the day, we got the best people for it. When you tell people that Clifton Collins Jr., Gina Gershon, David Arquette and Emily Osment are in the cast, you hear, “Wow, and this is a web series?” So, it definitely helps. It says something for the quality.
Cleaners is available on Crackle here.