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James Marsden is opening up about playing an entitled version of himself in Jury Duty and how he navigated the role opposite one of the series’ favorites, Ronald Gladden.
During an interview with British GQ, published online Wednesday, the Disenchanted star said it was “such a joy” to take on a character that was just an exaggerated version of him as an actor.
“To be given permission to send up the clichéd, entitled Hollywood celebrity in a way that’s subtle but also, in moments, just absurd, got me really excited,” he explained. “He just thinks that everyone should be interested in what he’s saying, what script he’s reading and that there’s no conversation that’s interesting if it doesn’t involve what his next gig is. It was a goldmine for comedy.”
The eight-episode series follows a fake jury selection and trial, except one person is led to believe it’s all real – Gladden, aka juror No. 6. The entire cast, including Marsden, takes on elaborate roles to make Gladden think it was a televised trial, although it was really just a strategically planned prank.
Marsden said at times it was challenging trying to keep the whole prank under wraps, especially during moments when it felt like Gladden was one step ahead of everyone else.
“There was a moment where Mekki Leeper, who plays Noah, was supposed to say, ‘How do I get out of jury duty? I heard that if you say you’re racist they can let you off,’ and Ronald beat him to the punch, saying, ‘Hey, I saw this Family Guy episode where the guy pretends he’s racist.’ We were like, ‘Did Ronald read the damn scripts?'” the Dead to Me actor recalled.
Overall, Marsden believes the show really “struck gold” with Gladden, adding, “I don’t know that the show works without somebody like Ronald.”
During an interview last month, Gladden explained that it took a while for him to fully understand the entire premise of the show once it was over. He said at the time, “I’m not kidding, months and months down the road after this, I was still getting hit with things like, ‘Oh wow, was that staged, was that fake, was that an actor?’”
Once the Amazon Freevee show hit screens and the truth was out, Marsden, Gladden and the rest of the cast quickly became a hit on social media, with clips from the series being shared across platforms. Marsden said one of the main reasons he believes people were so drawn to the series is because “it is original.
He continued, “We are in this world where people don’t want to take many risks. We want to look at older IP and reimagine old films that were successes, and it’s just cool to come across something like uncharted territory.”
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