This interview with Remedy showrunner Greg Spottiswood was supposed to be a recap of the show’s second season. A look back at the Connor clan’s struggles and a peek forward to what was to come.
Unfortunately, our chat serves more as an epitaph: Global cancelled Remedy the day after we spoke. Here’s what Spottiswood had to say about Griffin’s addiction story and why Sandy ended up being hit by a truck.
At first I wanted Griffin to get past his addiction and move on. But after Dillon Casey touched base with me, I realized Griff’s story is like real life, and there are no easy answers.
Greg Spottiswood: Dillon is very protective of that character. What we aspire to do is make the audience feel towards Griffin the way his family felt. They loved him, they cared about him and were rooting for him but at a certain point they kind of had enough of him. When we decided to go down this road, I told the network and I told [executive producer] Bernie Zukerman that if we were going to do a story about addiction that we would do it as accurately as a television show can, which is never fully accurate. We were going to talk to consultants and define it not as a flaw in this person’s character. A lot of stories about addiction on television are very much individual journeys and while Griffin had a distinct path this season, really the Trojan horse of it is to define the addiction as a family disease and to look at what happens to a family and how their feelings can be corrupted or warped when dealing with addiction. That was really our big project. The real question was, can we get the audience back? He really doesn’t hit bottom until the finale when Sandy tells him to leave the room. He doesn’t have one ally in his family. I feel like we accomplished what we set out to do.
By the end of the finale, Griffin was headed to rehab with Frank, PJ and Bruno giving him a ride, and Sandy was OK after that horrible car accident.
Sandy being hit by the truck was a fairly late change to the script. Originally, the design was that Griffin was either going to OD, or something else that was terrible would happen. We had been working on the script—Greg Nelson wrote it—and I came in one day and said, ‘It’s not Griffin, it’s Sandy. Bottom can’t be Griffin hurting himself, bottom has to be Griffin hurting the one person in the family who has never let him down and who he’s closest to.’ And people were uncomfortable in the writers’ room. ‘Really? You’re gonna hit Sandy with a truck?’ ‘I know it’s the right thing to do.’ Everybody got on board. That’s the interesting thing about television. You have this plan and everybody has signed on and then as a showrunner you’re in the shower or driving to work and you realize, ‘No, we’ve made a mistake.’
It was interesting, and effective, to not show the actual accident, but just Sandy being brought into the ER.
There were some interesting conversations about that. Would we show the headlights? Did we want to have a horn honk? And I said, ‘Some people will see it coming, some people will hope it’s not coming, but if we do it right …’ We put Zoe in the ER because we wanted the audience to think she saw Griff so that we could keep the misdirect going just a little longer.
Griffin’s journey as a rough one. Did you sit down and talk to Dillon Casey about it beforehand and give him any advice?
What we talked about at the beginning of the season was that he’d have to take really good care of himself because it was going to get uncomfortable. He was going to go to some dark places and be unsympathetic, which for a lot of actors is very hard to do especially on a network television show. He was embracing it but I told him he’d have to take care of his health because he was playing a very unhealthy guy. He took that to heart and approached the whole season with a great commitment and discipline and desire to understand what this guy was going through.
Another plot point I really enjoyed was bringing Allen down into the ER and seeing him as a doctor and inspiration to others. Had that been in the works since Season 1?
No. By the end of the first season, I went to Bernie and the network and said, ‘I don’t think we’re using everything that Rico has to offer as an actor well enough in Allen’s current role.’ I pitched the idea of moving him down to the ER and Bernie embraced it right away, but there was a certain skepticism at one point from the network. I felt like we had this great actor in Rico with great comic chops, great dramatic chops and because of Flashpoint he’s got this father figure position that we exploit. I said, ‘I just want to make him be the underdog.’ I’m really proud of everyone this season, especially of Rico because he relished it. When I went and told him what we were going to do, he blinked once and said, ‘OK, here we go.’
Sara Canning and Sarah Allen were fantastic this season too. Speaking of comic chops, they both have them.
Sara Canning and Sarah Allen as individuals are really stellar human beings and incredibly talented actors. We did chemistry reads when we were casting the show, so we knew that there was something there, but I don’t think any of us would have predicted how well those two have worked together, how close they would become as friends. They have a genuine affection for each other. They’re also very generous actors too. They listen to one another and are sensitive to each other’s needs and trust the writing, and you get this kind of magic.
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