TV

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

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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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From when you first got the script to where the show is now, what’s been the most surprising, or most fascinating evolution for you?

That’s a good question. I don’t know what I thought it was going to be, but I’ve been delighted with where it’s gone. It’s been darker than I thought it would be. I thought it would probably be more comedic. And oddly, when I watch it, I find it funnier than when I’m doing it, which I think is a real trick in the writing. I’m really not trying to be funny, but the writing is making it so, at times.

I like that the show is dealing with themes that are a little more complicated. I knew that there was a kind of a middle-aged angst, and there was a battle between a person seeking some kind of self-fulfillment. What’s been fun to get into a little bit has been that he genuinely sees himself as an artist, as time goes on. He’s kind of willing to put everything on the line to create this art, and that’s not necessarily something that you would have seen so much at the start. It was more like, oh, it’d be fun to be in the movies. And then suddenly that becomes not that interesting. It’s only fun to make a great fucking movie, otherwise, you’re just another monkey at somebody else’s organ grinder.

Is there space in season two for a little more laughter, a little more lightness, or is it just gonna continue down that path?

No, I think we compromised a little bit. Sean and I have a lot of fun this season again, thankfully. And actually Sean’s got a little more stuff in this season, and he’s such a fucking funny guy, he does great stuff with Gladys (Sarah Styles), and that goes into a very interesting place.

There was a really quick shout-out to the 1995 movie of the same name in season one, where one security guard welcomes “Mr. Palmer” onto the lot, the inference being that that was Chili Palmer. Does the show exist in that same world? Is there a possibility to ever see any of those characters?

I would love to see it happen. I mean, it’s kind of above my pay grade. But I know that, just when we’re kind of speculating for fun, there’s no reason that Chili Palmer couldn’t be running a studio in our show. From a logical point of view, which I think would be really terrific.

Juliet, Naked looks like a really interesting film. People talk about rom-coms as being something that’s kind of on the downside, but you’ve appeared in a few that have been refreshing. What are you looking for in a romantic comedy?

For me, it’s the same way I look at any project. I want to believe it. I don’t want it to be incredibly sugar coated. I know that romcoms sometimes can have a bit of a bad reputation, and I think it’s because they just get a bit too saccharine, and I think those days are gone. But I think there’s definitely a place for romantic comedy, and you can see that they’ve evolved in a very interesting way. Like The Big Sick. I would call that a romantic comedy. I thought they did a great job of dealing with it in a different way.

I think this one is, again, interesting in that, there are some romantic overtures in it, and hopefully, it’s funny. But it’s dealing with a lot of other things as well, in terms of the reclusiveness of an artist, and the fan obsession, and how music has changed. I feel like if it’s dealing with a lot of other things… It’s hard to just do romantic comedy. I thought what was great about Bridesmaids… it was such a great look at female relationships, and obviously, the fact that all of those women were so incredibly fucking funny is why the movie worked. It wasn’t because the cop and the girl end up in the end, really.

‘Get Shorty’ airs on Epix Sundays at 9 pm EST. ‘Juliet, Naked’ is out now in select theaters.

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