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 new series, co-stars Ione Skye and Juliette Lewis spoke at a small roundtable about why they wanted to sign on for this series, their own stand-out camping stories, the challenge of playing an anything goes type of person like Jandice, the women that inspired Carleen, and their hope for a second season.
Question: So, do either of you guys have any great camping stories from real life, either as a kid or as an adult?
JULIETTE LEWIS: I have a fun story. I love bringing up childhood adventures. My step-mom, at the time, rode horses. I was super equestrian, as a kid. Not many people know that. We would take the horses and go to Northern California, and we got stuck in a hail storm. First, it was fun and we were tying up the horses, and then there was hail and it became very cinematic. My dad was like, “Get the horses in the trailer!,” and the wind blowing. As a little kid, it’s out of your control. But initially, it started with washing your hair in the river, and it became something that you just live through, by the end. But, we had a good time.
IONE SKYE: My 9-year-old wanted a camping birthday. It was great. But then, my husband got either a tummy bug or food poisoning, so we made him sleep in the car. I was checking on him every few minutes. I felt so terrible. We quarantined my husband, but we gave him all the sleeping bags we could and put the seat down in the SUV. And then, I had nothing, so luckily, we had rented this glamping tent, which came with a Moroccan wool rug. It’s this whole kit for $150 that you can rent, and in the middle of the night, I just like grabbed the rug and slept. Wool is very good, if you’re cold. So, I slept under a dusty rug, but I was warm. When you’re cold, you don’t care about anything. You like being dirty because you’re just cold, and being warm is the priority. It was glamping to the rescue.
LEWIS: Right before I got this job, I had gone on a grown-up camping trip with my friends. We wanted to get rid of our devices and commune with nature. It was neat to see bits of my friends in these characters, particularly Jen Garner’s character. I have a friend who’s similar, with the health situation. You see yourself in all of these different characters. I thought that was really fun when I first read the script.
When Camping came your way, what made you want to work on this project?
SKYE: Well, I really loved Girls. I was like, “HBO, Lena Dunham, Jenni Konner? Yes, whatever it is!” I wasn’t like, “As long as the script is good.” I was like, “I’m in! What is it?” They really had such great writers, as well, for the comedy and the interpersonal relationships. It was an interesting challenge for them and us because Girls had a very specific voice. For me, it was exciting because I’m a fan. I was a fan of that voice, so I was happy to get involved with it.
LEWIS: It’s so exciting, when you have women of this caliber that have created their own, I don’t want to say brand, but recognizable culture, characters and dialogue. You have [Quentin] Tarantino, [David] Mamet or Sam Shepard. With these scripts, the dialogue has such a particular rhythm and it feels so real. For me, I couldn’t believe that I actually laughed out loud, reading these scripts. That’s so unusual, especially when you’ve been doing this for 30 years. I was in a hotel, laughing and going, “Yes! Jandice is the wild card. Okay, I’m in!” Jen Garner and I had worked with before, some 10 plus years ago, and we really enjoyed working together. And I was genuinely a fan of Ione’s, for such a long time, and we had mutual friends, so it really felt like a family affair. It was one of those jobs that come around not so often, and you’re lucky to grab it.
Why do you think taking people out of their environment, and taking away their wifi, TV, clothes and comforts, and putting them in the woods makes them more primal?
LEWIS: They’re devouring themselves, yeah.
SKYE: It’s a great backdrop for people from a city, coming into this and falling apart.
LEWIS: We’re also meeting these characters at very particular times in their life. I have a group of girlfriends and we have these trips, throughout our lives. We’ve been doing it for maybe two decades now. It’s funny, sometimes people are all in similar disarray, or they’re in mercury in retrograde headspaces, and other times, just a couple of people are a little out of sorts. That energy in that mix is really exciting to play.
SKYE: It’s a birthday party, so everybody is supposed to be on their best behavior. This is all for Walter, played by David Tennant. We’re just coming in for him, with our best behavior, but the pressure gets to you and you just can’t help it.