Chris O’Dowd Knows His ‘Get Shorty’ Character Is Lying To Himself

Features Editor
08.17.18

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Miles Daly isn’t a good man, but he doesn’t know that. Most bastards never do. Give credit where credit is due, however; at least Miles made an effort to get on a straighter path in season one of Get Shorty before taking a bullet in his side and losing the progress that he had made with his estranged wife and the dream of a family made whole again.

In season two (the show airs Sundays on Epix at 9 pm EST), it seems like Miles is further from that path than ever before, yet we root for him to make his way back. Part of that is because of Chris O’Dowd, who plays Miles with a mix of affable charm and the kind of confidence that comes from knowing that you’ve broken a few jaws — a potent combination that keeps you engaged. But another part of that is because we’ve been conditioned to watch with worry as these kinds of characters get further and further from the shore, adrift in a sea of bad deeds and self-delusion about their true nature and motivations.

Why that is might be a question best posed to a mirror, but O’Dowd certainly has thoughts about Miles’ recklessness and the disconnect from his better angels at the start of season two, the inherent bullshit of how the character views his motivations, and the evolution of the show’s tone, which he revealed in conversation with Uproxx earlier this week.

We’re seeing Miles be a bit more reckless in the season premiere. Obviously, some things went down at the end of season one that pushed him to lose some of the things he was fighting for. Is that rock bottom, or are we going to see him go really, really far down this season?

Things go pretty badly. He’s so untethered now that he’s somewhat disconnected from his family. And then, I guess, the turning point [is] when they make this movie… The Admiral’s Mistress, and it turns out to be so decidedly mediocre. Everything he was fighting for now seems pointless. And any mature person would take that kind of blame upon themselves, but he lashes out even more. He ends up taking drugs. He crashes into a lamppost on the freeway somewhere and ends up having a somewhat unusual week in a pink motel in the middle of nowhere and falls into the arms of a lady who does crystal therapy. He’s so desperate for some kind of peace, I think. Some kind of recognition. He finds it even when it’s not there. He grabs the things that make him feel better in the short term, even if they don’t really have any longterm benefit to him.

There’s a thing Miles does in the first season before he’s about to commit a violent act, where he tucks his necklace into his shirt. I noticed in season two that he does not do that. Is that a conscious choice or is that something that just happened?

No, that’s a conscious choice. I didn’t know if anybody would ever pick up on that. It’s not something that was written, but it was just something that I put in there. The necklace is actually a Saint Christopher’s medal, and I had given it a little backstory that my character’s daughter had given it to him. And then when he becomes violent in his day to day job back in Nevada, he took it away to almost make it feel like she’s not watching. And when things become quite untethered and a bit more reckless in season two, those thoughts just don’t occur to him anymore.

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We saw a little bit in the premiere, but are we going to see more of a focus on Emma, and how she’s handling her parent’s split and the revelation about what Miles does?

Yeah, there’s a little of that. And of course, she’s growing up, but wising up a little bit. This season I become much more honest with her. So she learns a little bit more about the nature of what I do. I decide… I think at the start of season two my wife is trying to give me an ultimatum, she wants me to sign these divorce papers and she wants full custody. And in my recklessness, and my abandon I agree to that. But some of the peace that I find in episode three makes me change my mind about all of that. It makes me want to fight for her. And then season three kind of goes on, it turns into a little bit of a Kramer vs. Kramer situation. So the whole “Get Shorty” of it really is a get Shorty… get custody of Shorty.

I thought back to The Sopranos and how they dealt with the situation with Tony and Meadow when your character was talking to Emma about what he does for a living in the season one finale. It’ll be really interesting to see how you guys flesh that out. That can be a really interesting relationship for the show, especially considering how much he cares about what his daughter thinks about him.

Yeah, for sure. And there’s the daughter part of it, and also there’s the… It harkens back to an innocence that he probably misses from himself, so if he feels that he has defiled himself in her eyes, that means that he’s gonna hate himself. He’s fundamentally, I think, a selfish character. Puts on this façade of respectability, or honor, and cloaks a lot of his actions in honor, I think as people have done, as a trope in mafia material for generations. There is something that happens, I probably can’t talk about it yet, but it really becomes about the honor of criminals, and what horseshit that is.

Is that his driving motivation? The selfishness and a kind of boredom with where he was in his life in Nevada versus this family thing? Because the show definitely seems to transform when the idea of being in the movie business seems to take center stage in terms of import for him.

Yeah, there’s definitely that. In my mind, this guy has come over from Ireland, probably getting out of trouble, landed in Vegas, nothing boring about Vegas. Even though it might have been a bit rough and ready, it never would’ve been boring. And then he ended up getting in a little trouble there, and ending in up in Pahrump, Nevada, which is fucking boring. He’s hurtling towards middle age, he has nothing ahead of him other than more misery, and it’s at that point, at the start of season one, that we find him.

So, as much as it is about crime and honor, it’s about middle age, and somebody coming to grips with the fact that the life that they’d hoped for themselves is not turning out. And because he is, at least, a person of action, or dynamism of some kind, he takes it upon himself to try and sort that out. Now, that’s not necessarily ever going to work out well, because it never fucking does, does it?

One of the interesting themes in the entire show, to me, is somebody pretending that what they want to do is gain respectability for their family when all they really want is to seek some kind of pleasure for themselves. I think Ray’s (Romano) character does that as well, I think Sean’s (Bridgers) character does that, and my character certainly does.

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