‘Hap and Leonard’ EP on Florida’s Journey & Balancing Humor with Serious Darkness

     March 14, 2018

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Back in November, I was invited to observe some location filming for Hap and Leonards third season, “The Two-Bear Mambo.” The series films in Georgia, and on that particular day the focus was on a pivotal Episode 5 scene that I will not spoil. But as I talked about in my interview with the show’s cast, the vibe on set was a really positive one. This is a show where everyone working on it knows it’s good, and for good reason. Still, as has been revealed in the premiere, Season 3 is also taking on some dark, unexpectedly relevant material for a story that takes place in the late 80s and published by author Joe R. Lansdale in the mid-90s. When I spoke with EP John Wirth about this new season, my first question was about what it was like navigating this subject matter that feels timely, even though it was never meant to be.

“Last spring when Jim Mickle and I were beginning our discussions […] we started talking about the book, saying, ‘How are we gonna make the Klan relevant, in this day and age? Who cares?’” Wirth said. “And then we convened the writer’s room, we start talking, we’re developing the story, and then Charlottesville happens. All of a sudden, it’s super relevant, and we’re completely on point, and we’re telling a story that … I’m not sure who else is really approaching this subject matter in this way, on television right now. But it’s a provocative story. People are nervous about it.”

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Image via SundanceTV

“The trick with this show, or any show, in my view, but particularly this show with this kind of subject matter that we deal with, is to tell the story without commenting on it,” he continued. “I don’t want to tell people, ‘Hey, we’re doing a story about the Ku Klux Klan and here’s why it’s important.’ I just want to tell the story, and let people draw whatever conclusions they want to draw from it […] We have dug deep, and we’re trying to represent what’s happening in certain parts of the country, with certain groups of people, unlikely groups of people, when they come into contact, and they’re forced to declare their agenda, on both sides.”

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