Well, we can't say we were expecting that.
Starz' latest comedy just debuted, and we may never look at Patrick Stewart the same way again.
The Star Trek and X-Men legend stars in Blunt Talk as Walter Blunt, a famous English talk show host who, within the first ten minutes of the pilot, refers to the "f—king house of Windsor," nearly sucks on a prostitute's breasts, sings along to a rap song, beats up some cops, and then jumps on top of a car to recite a Hamlet monologue.
It's like nothing we've ever seen from Stewart before, but he's so incredibly good in the role that we're now wondering why he hasn't been snorting cocaine and being spanked with towels throughout his entire career.
Adrian Scarborough stars alongside Stewart as his loyal manservant Harry, and we sat down with both of them during Starz' press tour to talk about the hilarious and unexpected new show.
E! News So, Adrian, what is it like to work with Patrick Stewart?
Adrian Scarborough: Working with Patrick is a hourly pleasure, because well A, he's a professional to his fingertips, and B, he's been doing it a long time and really knows what he's doing, so that's been very useful to watch and be around. I work on the principle that somewhere along the line hopefully a bit of it will rub off. That's my prayer. But also, I mean it is a combination of everybody.
For some reason, sometimes when you work on a project, everything just falls into place and you just feel that things are right. I kind of feel with every strand of it that everything just feels right, starting really with Johnathan Ames, who, as a creator, is a phenomenon. He thinks outside the box, and he thinks in really interesting convoluted and wonderful eccentric thoughts.
E! News: What did you think when you first read the script or heard about the part?
Patrick Stewart: I was amazed. I loved the way it began, and there were times when that almost changed. There were some who thought it should begin with a bang, you know, find some way to begin with the scene on the car and the cops and all of that. But instead, there is a two page dialogue about the Duke of Windsor using a pair of testicles, and I love that scene. It's so odd and eccentric, a guy talking to the barman late at night, too much booze. I love that it stayed the way it was because it kind of has a serious beginning. He's talking about English history and how it almost messed everything up and then didn't, and gives you no idea where the show is going to go.
AS: The first time I heard about the role, I was emailed two scenes from episode one, so I didn't even read a full ep. I just loved the characters. The first scene was Walter on top of a jag, and Harry coming out, and then the second scene was when they snort cocaine together, and I just read those and fell off my chair laughing. The following morning I was going on holiday for a fortnight, and my son was back at home, and he put me on tape and then digitally they sent it over here, because I live in London, just outside London.
E! News: So your son recorded you pretending to snort cocaine?
AS: Yeah, and did all of the lines off, and then put it on his Macbook and fiddled about with it and edited it beautifully and sent it off to my agent, and then yeah, the next thing I know I got offered the job, which was just wonderful.
E! News: Do you have any favorite moments from filming the show so far?
AS: I love when in the first episode, when [Patrick] sings in the car, high on marijuana chocolate,that just always makes me howl with laughter. And in episode two, there's a scene where he does a whole silent comedy routine in an airport loo, and it's about four minutes long, and it's hilarious, and unstoppably funny, and I sat down and watched it with my family last week. I had seen it before, but they hadn't. I didn't say anything. I hadn't really talked about it, and they were wetting themselves on the sofa. It was just really brilliant. It gets me everytime. He's such a formidable comedian, and he seemingly doesn't know it.
PS: Who knew?
E! News: This is quite a different role for you.
PS: Well I mean, Seth MacFarlane is the guy who saw I guess the potential, and he put me in his show American Dad for nine years, and this is a spinoff of that, except that Avery Bullock is an utterly despicable and vile character, and I think Walter Blunt is not despicable or vile. He's just flawed.
AS: That's a great description.
E! News: What do you think people are going to be most surprised to see you do?
PS: Well I think most of what happens in this show is going to be new, that I do. I did a thing in Frasier, the thing in Extras was comedy, but I don't know. Maybe because I've identified with this role so much, as me, identified with Walter Blunt, I hope they believe what they're seeing. I hope they think it feels real, and if it does, then the comedy can take off that launchpad.
E! News: It is a bit of an adjustment to watch at first, but it's really great. Do you prefer comedy over drama? Is there a major difference between them?
PS: It is wonderful hearing people laugh. I hosted a comedy show in Montreal last week in a two thousand show theater, and it was incredible to be alone on stage and saying things and hearing people laughing. It is probably better than hearing people sob or groan or cry out or weep or something like that. But I mean, I've never had this much fun. I've done jobs that I've loved, and not wanted them to end, but not sustained fun as we have done on this. Whether it's things that we each do, or watching the rest of the cast doing hysterically funny stuff.
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AS: It's really interesting having people…you would have your call in the morning in your trailer, and I would always go, oh I'm going to go over now. You might be called in sort of ten or 15 minutes, but if I was dressed and ready, I would just want to go and sit by the monitors and just watch what was going on. Lots of people did the same. You just wanted to kind of hang out. Itw as a funny place to be.
PS: It was, but we say over and over again, we're an ensemble act.
E! News: It's an incredible cast. I mean, Jacki Weaver is hilarious. Is it just the most comforting to be embraced by her?
PS: She's a good spooner.
AS: She gives good spoons.
PS: She's eccentric, and adorable, but you know, this was a show where, on breaks or whatever, whoever you're sitting next to, it's an instant conversation whether it's about work or something else. It's been that kind of environment, with Johnathan and our director.
AS: As the whole series develops, it sort of gets more and more…you see more and more sides and more and more colors of all the characters, really, and the way that they start interacting with one another, so you start off thinking a lot of the time that [Walter's] home life and work life are quite separate things, and they become more and more enmeshed together so that ultimately you sort of end up with a Blunt Talk family, rather than a sort of disparate group of people at work and at home, and that's been fascinating.
There was a time in the first few episodes where I never used to attend board meetings, or anything like that, I would always just sort of drift off and go and do other things, and then as the series came on, I just ended up sitting at the back of the board meetings and doing other things, sort of increasingly included in all of that sort of things as well, which has been fascinating. Having Timm Sharp and Dolly Wells and Jacki and Richard Lewis…Just the quality is…sumptuous. It's like a big, big Christmas tree full of presents.
E! News: Let's talk about your relationship on the show. Would you say it's a bromance?
PS: Yes, I would.
PS: They admire one another, they like one another, they enjoy being together, they irritate one another, but as we will learn in episode nine, their friendship is based on something very serious that has happened. Very very intense, which has locked them together in this way.
E! News: So the show gets pretty serious then?
PS: Yeah. It's not just gags.
AS: You have to weave some phenomenal drama through.
PS: From the pianist in the very first scene, saying "Are you alright, Mr. Blunt? Maybe I should get you a car…" You know, you realize there's a person concerned about the wellbeing of somebody else who clearly should not be driving. We know we're doing comedy, but every scene has a serious heart to it.
E! News: So would you call it a dramedy?
PS: Not many dramedies have comedy toilet scenes.
E! News: That's a good point.
PS: Or the amount of nudity we had in the first two episodes. Oh lord, the naked people.
E! News: Since the show deals with an Englishman telling Americans what they're doing wrong, are there any American customs that still baffle you?
AS: I'm still utterly baffled by the idea that you can drive your car through a red traffic light. In England, that is so unacceptable. You would be pulled over by the police and sent to jail very, very quickly if you did that, and try as I might, I can't get my head around it. Especially that you can turn on a red light when people are crossing the road. That just strikes me as plain foolhardy. Interestingly, when I got back to England, I was sorely tempted…I sat at red lights going, oh, come on!
PS: That's a good response. I have to restrain myself in London. I lived here for 17 years, and about ten years ago I left. People asked me what I missed, and I used to say valet parking. And it's true actually, I think, valet parking. You miss turning right on a red light, but yeah, we don't have valet parking in the UK. I mean, maybe if you're very fancy hotel somebody will park your car, but you can't drive up to any little restaurant and find that somebody's going to take it. And it always amuses me that people will hand over incredibly expensive cars, you know, to some guy and say yeah, take it, here are the keys.
Blunt Talk airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Starz.