Love & Death’s Tom Pelphrey Details the “Challenging” Process of Playing Lawyer Don Crowder

In an exclusive interview with E! News, Love & Death's Tom Pelphrey explained the research he did to play attorney Don Crowder. Plus, get a sneak peek at Tom in the May 11 episode.

By Daniel Trainor May 09, 2023 3:00 PMTags
Watch: Love & Death Exclusive Clip: Tom Pelphrey's Character Gathers His Defense

In order to play a notorious attorney, Tom Pelphrey did some detective work himself. 

On HBO Max's Love & Death, based on the true story of axe murderer Candy Montgomery, the Ozark alum plays her lawyer Don Crowder. Despite the headline-making crime, when he got the role, Tom "wasn't familiar at all" with Candy's sensational saga—so he started researching.

"I was finding everything I could," Tom exclusively told E! News. "At first, it was a little bit difficult."

Tom pointed to the source material used by Love & Death writer David E. Kelley—2016's Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs by John Bloom and Jim Atkinson—as being "really helpful with a lot of Don's backstory."

But Tom wasn't just interested in a surface level portrayal.

"So much of what I found interesting about Don wasn't even in the show, but it helps you build the character," he explained. "When you know what an underdog he is and what a champion of kids, children and the disadvantaged, you really get a sense of this guy. He played football, he's kind of a tough guy. More of like a street fighter."

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Luckily, Tom had some help in the research department in the form of Olivia Applegate, who plays Don's first wife Carol Crowder in the HBO Max series.

"Olivia brought me an article on the second or third day of filming," Tom said. "It was a long-form written article about Don and they interviewed Carol for it. This article was from the late '90s. It was really helpful and insightful into who Don was."

In addition to getting Don's background sorted, Tom felt a responsibility to nail the physical nuances of who he was.

"I think it can be more challenging to play somebody who's real because obviously there's many more constraints, within reason, on what you're doing with that person," the Outer Range star divulged. "The other thing is you want to avoid any kind of imitation of the person because then the character can start to feel two-dimensional. The most important thing to me is that we're bringing them to life in a way that serves the story we're trying to tell."

Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Love & Death is available to stream on HBO Max.

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