'Here and Now' Team Talks Politics and Family Drama in Trump Era

The stars of HBO's new series have embraced how their show tackles present-day political and emotional turmoil.
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From left: Actor Tim Robbins, creator/executive producer Alan Ball, executive producer Peter Macdissi and actor Daniel Zovatto

When Tim Robbins signed on to star in Alan Ball's latest HBO project, the family drama Here and Now, he knew that the show would tackle America in the Trump era, and he embraced it.

"What I loved about the script was it was speaking to this moment that we're living in," he told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet Monday night at the premiere for the new series. "The fear that's there, the anxiety, and the emergence of a voice that has been dormant for a long time, a racist voice that is suddenly empowered in this country and how dangerous that is."

Here and Now follows an aging couple (played by Robbins and Holly Hunter) and their four children — three adopted from Vietnam, Liberia and Colombia (Raymond Lee, Jerrika Hinton, Daniel Zovatto), one biological (Sosie Bacon) — living in Portland, Ore.

As Ball told THR at the event, held in West Hollywood at the DGA Theater, the show isn't only about today's political discourse. It's also about family and finding one's place in the world.

"I'm not a person who feels like I have any answers to anything, but I do think it's interesting the kind of challenges we're all faced with living in a world that has changed so drastically and in a world where the truth seems to have become irrelevant," he said. "How do you make meaning out of things? How do you live an authentic life in a world that is increasingly inauthentic and seems hell-bent on going insane? You can't just write a show about that. The show is about the characters. The show is about this particular family. The show is about this particular moment in America."

And at this particular moment in America, emotional family dramas a la Here and Now and This Is Us seem to be resonating because "people want to feel connected," the Six Feet Under creator said. "Family shows, no matter what they're about, it's about people who have a very strong basic connection and who, in the most idealized versions of it, provide each other with safety and security. Unfortunately, I don't think all families are like that, but I do think it's comforting as a viewer to sit down and watch a family that seems to be there for each other and helping each other through the worst of times."

Star Zovatto explained, "I think that your family is probably as crazy as mine, and so is this one. I think we all go through it. I think in the end we all kind of want to watch things that make us feel like we're not the only ones going through it."

After the screening in the nearly full theater, guests filtered into the lobby, which was decorated with hundreds of candles and clocks set to 11:11, a number and time that figures prominently in the series, which also has what Ball calls a "mystical" bent. There were numerology experts giving readings, a photo booth that printed auras on each snapshot, and three full buffet lines (and two dessert stations, plus dozens of passed appetizers) for the hundreds of guests.

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