- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
The cast of Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers is collectively certain of one thing ahead of the series premiere — they lucked out on joining an incredible ensemble.
Adapted by David E. Kelley and John-Henry Butterworth from Liane Moriarty’s 2018 novel, Nine Perfect Strangers follows nine people heading to a beautifully isolated Northern California wellness retreat dubbed Tranquillum House. Similar to Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the series balances a diverse cast across eight episodes, following them as they seek to be transformed and healed.
Nicole Kidman stars as the mysterious and captivating house leader Masha Dmitrichenko. Guests arrive at Tranquillum with some form of trauma or deep unease that they’re working through. There are the Marconis — Napoleon (Michael Shannon) and Heather (Asher Keddie) and their daughter Zoe (Grace Van Patten) — who are working through their grief. Jessica (Samara Weaving) and Ben (Melvin Gregg) enter the wellness retreat hoping to salvage their marriage. The other strangers are made up of bestselling author Frances (Melissa McCarthy), irritable Tony (Bobby Cannavale), sweet yet erratic Carmel (Regina Hall) and suspicious Lars (Luke Evans). The guests are taken care of by Tranquillum House staff including Yao (Manny Jacinto) and Delilah (Tiffany Boone).
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, the cast shared their enjoyment in working within a diversely talented cast and what audiences can expect from within the walls of Tranquillum House.
McCarthy expressed that when first reading Moriarty’s novel the series is based on, “chapter after chapter, I kept thinking my God, what is going on. And just when you think it’s weird and crazy enough, it hasn’t started yet.”
Going past the mysteriousness and eccentricities of the plot, McCarthy found a beautiful message befitting our pandemic-ridden world. The actress noted that “after the way we were living in the world, so isolated and alone in lockdown,” she enjoyed the series’ message of “even strangers can be kind and help people.”
“Compassion is the common denominator, not hate, even though hate is louder. I love that these group of strangers came together and people instinctually want to help people.”
An extra bonus of coming onto the series for McCarthy was getting to work for the fourth time with Cannavale. “He’s such a great guy and he’s such a tremendous actor… We’re either fighting or falling in love or fighting and we have kind of a rhythm,” McCarthy said.
Since their characters Frances and Tony embark on a conflicting yet endearing friendship amid the ensemble, McCarthy noted the two would check in with one another amid production. “We talk about things and call each other and check in on where do we think we are because everybody’s on their own journey and then there’s this group journey so there’s a lot to juggle and track.”
As for Cannavale, he shared that along with enjoying “all the ways the surprises folded” in the series, it was his former Spy co-star McCarthy who drew him to the project.
“She texted me and said ‘Oh you should read this. This is really good and I think you and I together would be good in this.’ So her advocating for it and bringing it up to me, she’s got such great taste. That’s what initially made me read it, and then I read the book,” Cannavale told THR.
As for his grumpy character Tony, Cannavale added that his character’s contradictory personality was intriguing to work with. “I liked particularly for my character that he was someone who had voluntarily submitted himself to this but then spent most of the time being resistant to it. I thought that was an interesting contradiction to figure out. Then of course, when I did that, I figured out that the guy was really, really, really at the end of his rope and a sad person.”
Van Patten and Keddie both said that for their characters specifically, there was some heavy emotional work to maneuver as the Marconi family addressed grief and loss. “I found it so relatable, all of it. Grief, everyone can relate to it. Everyone can connect. Everyone deals with it in their own way, and I thought that the Marconi family really mirrored society in that way. We’re all three dealing with the same thing in very different forms,” Van Patten said.
Keddie noted what helped her work through such “enticing, intoxicating and frightening” source material was being part of an ensemble that offered “levity” and “a shared sense of humor” during production. She added that she particularly enjoyed “working with an ensemble where every single person was invested in the same way and had such an incredible work ethic. There was no one that didn’t work really rigorously.”
Weaving and Gregg, who make it possible to feel sorry for a wealthy and beautiful couple, highlight what fun it was to work with such an incredibly talented cast. “Every scene with the whole ensemble was so much fun because you got to watch how everyone else worked and it’s like having the best seats to the best theater in town,” Weaving told THR.
“There are so many different, amazing actors and just to see the passion that people put into what they’re doing, just to be there, it was a great experience on and off camera,” Gregg added.
Hall agreed, adding that Nine Perfect Stranger‘s group scenes were enjoyable because of how “varied” emotions and settings could be. “Sometimes they were incredibly painful scenes and sometimes they were really funny… I loved the quieter scenes that were really vulnerable for Carmel. I think what’s great is having a cast where you just love everyone’s work and respect them so much. You feel fortunate to play with them as a group and individually.”
Jacinto shared that one of his favorite memories of working on the series was his one-on-one scenes with Kidman, whose character Masha has a particularly close connection to Jacinto’s Yao. “Those are scenes that I’ve learned so much from in terms of being present and open. The fact that I got to act one-on-one with Nicole Kidman, that’s not something all actors can say. That’s a moment that I’ll forever cherish.”
Jacinto added that when the cast came together for their group scenes, “it just created an environment of us being in a playground.”
“I don’t know if it was all of us just going crazy being isolated in this place but when we were all together, we just had fun. We just joked, teased one another. It was a great time and that’s not always the case with casts… We were very lucky,” Jacinto said.
Nine Perfect Strangers premieres Aug. 18 on Hulu. Watch the video above for more on this story.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day