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This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Who better than Episodes star Matt LeBlanc to uncover the secrets of his showbiz-skewering comedy about a pair of British writers working in American TV? Join in as he grills creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik on casting, their favorite scenes and who wears a costume when they write.
First of all, congratulations on Episodes.
DAVID CRANE You too!
How did you come up with the concept?
JEFFREY KLARIK It was right after [CBS’] The Class. We were both really burned on that show. And I said: “That’s it. I’m done. No more network. No more working. I don’t want to do this ever again.”
CRANE Then he says the next day, “OK, if we were to do another show, let’s …”
KLARIK Why don’t we go to the BBC? We can shoot in L.A. and not have to have people meddling. They’ll be in England!
CRANE The BBC is very hands-off. Then L.A. went out the window.
KLARIK Then I thought, “What if it’s about a British couple of writers and they come to America. Then they’d have to let us shoot here!”
CRANE Ironically, when we got into production, it turned out it was much cheaper to shoot it in London. … I’m telling you this, Matt, like you don’t know. (Laughs.) We had to learn how to make England like Los Angeles! A lot of greenscreen. Have you seen the show?
I have! How much of it is based on your own experiences in Hollywood?
KLARIK I’m Beverly [Tamsin Greig]. He’s Sean [Stephen Mangan].
CRANE Sean is positive, like me. I’m “the glass is half full.”
KLARIK I’m “the glass is an idiot.”
CRANE We came up with the character of Matt LeBlanc.
Was Matt your first choice for Matt?
KLARIK He was.
But that character is a jerk.
CRANE Now it gets awkward.
How has Hollywood reacted to it?
KLARIK People seem to love the show.
CRANE I was so nervous we were going to be burning bridges.
KLARIK I didn’t care!
What’s your favorite scene so far?
KLARIK The fight involving your character.
CRANE Yeah, really.
KLARIK The one with you and Merc [John Pankow] at the awards dinner at the end of the second season. Also, I love the episode where you guys go to the TCA party. At first, I thought, “Really, we’re really going to poke the bear and take on the critics?” And the first question at TCA was: “What took you so long?”
CRANE Each one thought we were making fun of one of the guys to their left.
Do you like working with Matt LeBlanc?
KLARIK Uncomfortable. Next question.
What’s your writing process?
KLARIK It’s hell.
CRANE In a loving way. We’re also a couple. It’s constant. In the car. In the kitchen. “What would happen if …”
KLARIK It’s really hard.
CRANE You keep thinking there will come a point — God knows we’ve been doing it long enough — that it should be like, “Oh, here’s another episode!” And no, it’s really hard. We do draft after draft after draft.
Harder than other shows you’ve worked on? Mad About You? Friends?
KLARIK It’s only us. So, if it’s not funny, it’s not funny. We can’t expect somebody in the room to pitch a joke to save our ass. I liken it to making a snowman one snowflake at a time, and the sun’s starting to come out. I find it really tortuous. I feel for every writer out there. Even doing crappy stuff is hard!
Do you argue during the writing process?
CRANE I wouldn’t say we argue. We’ll get frustrated together or depressed together.
Do you wear costumes while you write?
CRANE Why pull at that thread?
KLARIK I wouldn’t call it a costume.
CRANE I would definitely wear a crown thing.
KLARIK A Matt LeBlanc mask.
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