Wyatt Russell on ‘Lodge 49’ Season 2 & Embracing the Strange Magic of AMC’s Critical Darling

     September 9, 2019

In Season 2 of the AMC series Lodge 49, Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell) is recuperating from his shark attack while also trying to cope with the pool shop being under new ownership. At the same time, his beloved fraternal order is suffering under new rule and his twin sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy) is struggling with starting over. 

While at the AMC portion of the Television Critics Association Press Tour, Collider got the opportunity to sit down and chat 1-on-1 with actor Wyatt Russell about being a part of a TV series that’s so hard to describe to people, why Lodge 49 is a show that you really should watch from the beginning, finding magic when the absurdity of the show is balanced with the realities of life, the purity of the brother-sister relationship, Dud’s simple ambitions, and how much he hopes that this show will continue.  

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Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Collider:  When this show was originally pitched to you, what were told about the idea for what this would be? How did they try to sell this? Because this show is so hard to describe, how was it described to the actors on the show? 

WYATT RUSSELL: It wasn’t. The way I got it was that someone said, “Hey, I read this show. I think you’d really dig it. I think you’d like it.” That was July, maybe three years ago. And I read it and was just really floored by the voice of the show because it was very, very unique and very, very specific. That was just one episode – the pilot. It felt like a novel. It felt like being in a book. There’s a specificity to the voice without trying to be too smart. It’s really a show about normal people, and I felt that. It was at a time where I only ever saw normal people used as props, where it’s like, “Look how normal we are, we’re Midwest normal,” or people would shit on the normal people. And so, I thought it was interesting that it connected to people, like plumbers, carpenters and tradespeople, in a way that was really, really honestly for them, and we were gonna make their life look like magic. There’s magic in everyday shit, as long as you’re really looking forward to trying to seek that out.  

So, I ended up asking, “Who are these guys, and can I meet them?” I thought it would probably never got made, but then I met them and said, “Fuck, man, I would really love to work with you. You guys are so great, and you’re such nice people and so smart. If it happens, I’ll raise my hand. I’d love to be able to do it.” And then, about a week later, said, “We’re a doing it,” and they gave us a 10-episode order. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was so happy and proud to be part of a network, like AMC, that had a great track record, and that was willing to go along the ride with everybody. They weren’t just gonna say, “Well, we don’t exactly know how to do everything with this.” It’s not something that presents itself as something that’s easy to market. I just think it’s so fantastic, and I feel proud to be a part of a network and to work for people at a network, who believe in that still. It’s really rare. It’s really unbelievably rare to be able to be in the position that we’re in. So, I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of the people that I work with and work for. A lot of that onus is owed to AMC, for having faith in it. 

Because this is a show that’s hard to explain to people, do you worry that people who tune into Season 2 that maybe haven’t seen Season 1 are going to be very confused? Is this a show that you feel like people need to start at the beginning on?  

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Image via Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

RUSSELL: My hope would be that, if you’re interested in what’s happening, that you would go back and watch it. I think it’s a show that will hopefully have many lives, after its original air. If you go back and you watch Season 1 and Season 2 together, there’s a feeling and vibe that the show creates that allows you to want to live in that world for a little while. It’s a world without smart phones and without email. It’s almost like a parallel universe that I love to be in. I love just being in it. And there are lots of little things and anecdotes about life that seem to apply and be very applicable, in a very real way, through a magical, ridiculous way of storytelling.

There are many people who tune in and go, “No, it’s not for me,” and that’s fine. I’ve done that with shows. I’ve done that and gone, “Oh, it’s not for me,” and then, I’ll come back to it, later on. I did that with Better Call Saul. I was like, “It’s okay. It’s good. I don’t know. Sure.” But it didn’t get me. And then, I went back and watched it, and I was like, “Wait a second, I’ve gotta watch this show.” And it hooked me. Now, I’m binging Better Call Saul, and it’s one of my favorite shows. So, I hope that people would feel like that about Lodge 49, but I’m also of the school of thought that, when you do something that’s art, no matter what it is, you give it away to people and they tell you what it is. It’s not my job to tell you what to think of it. It’s your job to tell me what you think of it, and that determines the fate of a show sometimes, which is absolutely 100% fair. I have no problem with that. 

I also love how things unexpectedly happen on this show because it feels very real and natural. 

RUSSELL: Yeah, the absurdity of the show balanced with the realities of life that the show exhibits are where the magic of the show resides. It’s also why it can be difficult to ride that line of absurd and real. So, when you’re dealing with somebody’s death, in a very real way, in the same show that you’re dealing with a person who is running you over with their car and beating you up with a pool skimmer, there is a balance there that is fun to play with and that does give the show its own unique identity, that I really enjoy doing. There are a lot of those moments that I find to be very enjoyable, and there’s a lot of them in Season 2. 

There’s also something so great about watching the dynamic between this brother and sister, and seeing how they relate to each other. There’s something so sweet and pure about their relationship.  

RUSSELL: Yeah, and a lot of that is due to Sonya [Cassidy]’s ability, as an actress. We found her in London. She’s English, and you’d never know. She’s so relaxed, and she’s so of the place, of the feeling, and of the moment, that it’s so easy to be with her, on that couch. There’s something about that couch that feels like home and is an anchor, and our relationship is an anchor. Every time that I get to see that and get to do that with her is real pleasure. She brings something to it that is a real intangible, and that was very, very difficult to find. It had to be in the person, and it’s in her. Sonya, as a person, has a stability to her that’s palpable, that comes through in Liz. I love her. She’s a great person. 

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Image via AMC

This seems like a character that you wouldn’t really want to let go of and that you get sad to leave behind. Have you had conversations about how the story could continue?  

RUSSELL: I try to stay away from them because the idea of not doing it is sad. I don’t like to get my hopes up, about things that are beyond my control. I do have an idea of where it goes, but after the season is over, I honestly forget about it. It would be too difficult to think about it, and wish and hope and wonder what’s going on, and give it a lot of energy. If it doesn’t continue, then I want to have moved on in my head.

It’s hard to play the same character, especially someone like Dud, over and over again, because selfishly, you want to be able to diversify. So, it is nice to leave Dud alone, and leave Dud over here, in the corner. Dud exists and he lives, but he lives over there. So, when I move on from this moment, Dud stays. I don’t bring Dud. Dud doesn’t come with me. I don’t share enough with Dud that I’d want him to take parts of my personality from me. I take a little bit of Dud and bring it with me, but most of him stays in the corner. Nothing would make me happier than to have four or five seasons of Dud in my life, but I’m not a part of making those decisions. We do the best that we can. We try our very hardest, and we hope that people can connect with it, but I also just do it.

I enjoy being in that experience, but I don’t want to force that experience on others. I hope the show’s good enough for people to want more. I really do. That’s the goal. But when we’re done, Dud lives by himself. Dud’s not a real person, and I have to remind myself of that. Although, if you’re gonna replicate somebody in your life, it’s not a bad person to take notes from, and I have, totally. I’ve tried to be more like Dud, in my life, because he lets things go. Things roll off his back, and he’s eternally optimistic. That’s something that I think we could all use a little bit of that. 

And he has simple ambitions, which can be a good thing. 

RUSSELL: I think it makes life easier. It’s where it all stems from for him. When he’s asked, “If you could do anything in life, what would you wanna do?,” his simple answer is, “Clean pools,” and that’s true. It’s the truth. When you have that as your baseline, and that’s all you want, then you’re gonna be able to get it. But Dud, specifically, is not gonna be able to get it until he jumps through rings of fire. You have to go through the entire hell to get to a place of simply nirvana. If that is cleaning pools, then that’s what that is, but at least he knows. 

A lot of people don’t know, but he knows what he wants. 

RUSSELL: Yeah, and it’s nice to know what you want. Everybody else seems to want a lot out of life, but when you get that pot of gold, at the end of the rainbow, for most people, it ends up not being enough. And then, you go searching for the next pot of gold, and it ends up not being enough. You say to yourself, “Well, if I could just get this job,” or “If I could just get paid this much money,” or “If I could just get this, then that would be enough. I’d be happy.” But it never ends up being that. You really have to find the people and the things that make you happy, and live with that in mind, and live in the present, and not constantly be going, “Well, what if I had this?,” or “What if we did that?” That’s good, a little bit. You’ve gotta drive forward a little bit. But it puts you in a constant state of perpetual anxiety about the things that you don’t have, which Dud doesn’t seem to have a lot of. 

Lodge 49 airs on Monday nights on AMC. 

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