‘Goliath’: Maria Bello and Molly Parker on the Binge-Worthy Legal Drama

     December 23, 2016

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If you’re looking for something to watch while your favorite shows are in reruns over the holidays, you should consider checking out the drama series Goliath on Amazon Prime. From executive producers David E. Kelley and Jonathan Shapiro, the ultimate David vs. Goliath battle plays out between Billy McBride (Billy Bob Thornton), a down-and-out lawyer, and the big firm he helped establish and that his ex-wife (Maria Bello) still works for, in a world where the scales of justice seem to tip toward the rich and powerful.

During 1-on-1s interviews with Collider, actresses Maria Bello and Molly Parker (who plays Callie Senate, the formidable and ruthless litigator that takes this case on in the courtroom) talked about what attracted them to Goliath, why they both enjoy binge watching, the interesting character dynamics, and the structure for possible future seasons. Parker also talked about signing on for the Netflix re-imagining of Lost in Space, why she wanted to be a part of that project and whether she was a fan of the original series.

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Image via Amazon

Collider: How did you come to this show?

MARIA BELLO: As soon as I heard that Jonathan [Shapiro] and David [E. Kelley] had written the show and wanted me to do it, I was like, “Oh, my gosh!” David was way ahead of his time when it wasn’t fashionable to write strong female lead characters for television, with Ally McBeal and The Practice, which my dear friend Camryn Manheim won an Emmy for. He’s just able to capture the essence of real, complicated women, so I’ve always been an admirer. So, when I met he and Jonathan, and learned that Billy Bob [Thornton] and my friend William Hurt were attached, I really wanted to do the show. And I love that all eight lead women are in the pilot, and in one hour, you really get to understand who each of them are and they’re all so different. That’s hard to do, in a pilot. I think they did an amazing job with the writing.

MOLLY PARKER: I was cast in a different role when we first started. We shot some of that, and then they decided they were going to try something different, so they wrote this other part for me. It wasn’t just about me. They wanted to try something a little bit different with the show, so they wrote the part of Callie Senate for me, which is a great part. I had so much fun playing her. I really haven’t had an opportunity to do something like that before. She’s a complicated woman who’s funny and mean, a little bit gender-bendy and voracious. She’s very much just her own woman, which was really fun to do. She’s bad-ass.

Are you a binge watcher, or do you prefer to savor episodes?

BELLO: I’m a crazy binge watcher! I love television. I’ve binge watched Transparent, Catastrophe, The Night Of, Happy Valley, and the list goes on. Two years ago, I found out about The Walking Dead. I watched the pilot, and then, within three weeks, I’d watched all seven seasons. I get obsessed about shows. That’s why network television is really going out of fashion. I don’t want to have to wait a whole week to see 20 episodes. There’s still some great shows on network television, but not a lot of things that I’d want to watch, all the time.

It took people a little while to catch on to the kind of programming that Amazon offers, but they’ve had some real success now with their TV series. When did you realize that doing a streaming series was a viable option?

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Image via Amazon

PARKER: House of Cards was really the first show that did that, and I was a part of that experience, early on. My own way of watching television had evolved. Even when DVD box sets came out, I didn’t watch Breaking Bad until a few seasons had gone by, so I could watch the whole thing together. That’s the way I like to watch television. I didn’t really get to watch TV before it was available this way because I work and travel and, like many of us, don’t have a regular schedule where I could be home every Thursday night to watch a TV show. Most people don’t, these days. So, it’s a much more convenient way to watch television. It’s a really enjoyable way to work because you make the thing, and then if goes out. You’re not in a situation where the show goes on the air and you’re also shooting it, at the same time, and it’s rolling out while you’re doing it. There’s something very nice about being able to make something, and then it goes out into the world and the audience has its reaction, but that’s not happening while you’re shooting. I prefer that.

BELLO: It’s funny, years ago, I went to my agent and I was pitching a show and said, “What about Amazon? I hear they’re going to do some stuff.” And one of my agents was like, “Nah, that’s never going to happen. They’ll never make money doing that.” And then, they became a huge place for great content. I really enjoy streaming, particularly with Amazon. I made a conscious choice to work with Amazon because everyone who works for them says that they give you so much creative freedom, compared to network or even cable. They really trust in their creators and entertainers, and they let us go. They have a lot of money, and we had more time to do our show. I think our show looks like a film, it’s so beautifully shot and the production design is great. It’s just great to have that freedom, especially for Jonathan and David to be able to say “fuck,” once in awhile.

Was part of the appeal of this the fact that you’re only doing a few episodes?

BELLO: It’s so much more appealing. I’ve worked on shows where you do 23 episodes a year, and then it turns into a grind and it turns out to not be fun anymore. I have friends that do that, and it swallows up your life. Now, I’m producing movies and a have a 15 ½ year old son and a great boyfriend who I’m in a relationship with. I’m just trying to balance out my life, and this really helped me to balance my life, doing a show that was in L.A., it was a great character and a great cast, and doing eight episodes.

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