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 series executive producer Paul Giamatti about the challenge of selling this show to audiences (it’s great, but impossible to describe!), how he ended up guesting, his reaction to learning about his story arc, and what he looks for when reading scripts as a producer. He also talked about his hit Showtime series Billions, which will be heading into its fifth season, and how long it could continue, as well as the upcoming Disney flick Jungle Cruise, the movie’s sense of humor, and how “wacky” the plot is.
Collider: As a producer, I’m sure the goal is to have a show that you can easily sell to people, but with a show like this, it seems like the whole battle is trying figure out how to sell this show.
PAUL GIAMATTI: Yeah, I never was under the illusion that this was gonna be an easy thing for people to hook onto. I think we’ve accepted, to some degree, and I think it’s true, that it’s a word-of-mouth show and critics like it. Hopefully, it will open up more slowly. We all knew that. But it’s part of the nature of the show. I’ve had this little production company for awhile, and we’ve done various things, and I have an unfortunate tendency to be interested in things like this, so I’m used to it. It’s okay. We would love it to go on forever, and for more and more people to watch it, but it’s okay, right now, for what it is.
It’s also not a show where you can have a new audience come in, in Season 2.
GIAMATTI: No, it would be helpful to have seen it, from the beginning. It unfolds, novelistically, and people are actually changing and growing, and things are happening and developing. It’s not the same thing, over and over again, which I feel like a lot of shows are, where it’s a repetitive thing that you get every episode, so you can jump in and understand. You’ll be a little bit disorientated, if you haven’t followed it from the beginning. There’s a shark attack, and [this season] starts with people on a plane, and one of them is on fire, and they’re jumping out of the plane, and one of them is dressed like a Mariachi guy, which is great because, hopefully, that sets things up for people who like the show, or don’t know the show, that this is where it’s gonna go. You’re gonna follow a journey to this point, and how you’re gonna get there will hopefully be entertaining.
How did you end up in that opening scene?
GIAMATTI: I got the pilot, originally, and loved it and wanted to make it, and I had no intention of being in it. But when AMC was like, “Well, could you be in it?,” I couldn’t do it ‘cause I’m on another television show (Billions on Showtime). But I am in the first season of it. I’m the voice on the audio books, and then that character becomes a real person. (Show creator) Jim [Gavin] then said, “If they would let you, could I actually figure out a way to have that guy appear?” And I was like, “Fantastic!” And then, I got that, and that was the first way the guy appeared. I was like, “This is fantastic! I can’t wait to see where this guy’s gonna go.” I didn’t even wanna know, until I got there later to film the other scenes. I waited until the scripts came out.
What was your reaction to finding out what happened?
GIAMATTI: Oh, it’s so much weirder than you can even imagine. It’s such a bizarre character that I was incredibly excited. It ended up being one of the funnest things I’ve done, in a long time. It was really a joy of a character to play. Jim, in a very nice way, gave me certain things to play that he knew I’ve always wanted to play. He gave me a gift, a little bit, and said, “You can play this kind of wacky person that you’ve been dying to play.” It was fun for me. I was perfectly content to really just be a fan of this show, so getting to be in it is really exciting. It’s great.
I love that Lodge 49 is a show where there’s a nemesis that doesn’t even speak, but then does insane things.
GIAMATTI: I’m always saying that the show is about the need and the power of community. The lodge is the bulwark against this insane world because, when it comes to the people outside of the lodge, there are so many menacing, crazy people, but comically so. My character is also completely insane. He shows up and endangers everybody’s lives, in a completely crazy way. It gets away with it ‘cause they manage this funny tone, in a really good way. It gets really absurd, and then it gets totally believably gritty and intimate, and then it gets surreal, and then it goes back to being very real. It’s a trick that they’re pulling off really well. You have to find the right actors who can play those tones, in a way that seems consistent.
We’ve talked previously about Outsiders, which you were also an executive producer on, and that was so very different from this show. How did you go from that show to Lodge 49? Are you just always reading different stuff and looking for what speaks to you?