BrainDead Interview with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit

BrainDead

As if working in Washington, DC wasn’t hard enough, the brilliant minds behind The Good Wife have decided to throw an invasion into the mix in CBS’s BrainDead. Fangirlish got a chance to sit down with the stars of BrainDead, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Aaron Tveit to discuss what makes this show a must see this summer.

Laurel Healy, played by Mary, is just trying to get by in life. She hates politics, and since her family is unfortunately stationed in the nation’s capital, she’s been MIA for awhile. An opportunity pulls her back into the throng of things and she ends up meeting Gareth, played by Aaron Tveit, and a pesky alien spawn with a craving for the brains of Congressmen and Capitol staffers.

Normal day in D.C. right?

Aaron was quick to assure, “It looks like one thing and it kind of does the other at all times.”

And Mary couldn’t help adding, “You never know what to expect.”

This new show was marked by both as adventurous and risky, in an exciting way. It’s a mishmash of genres, including drama, political satire, sci-fi, and comedy. It seems almost impossible to pull off such a show, but the Kings have done it.

“The show is nuts,” Aaron explained before Mary continued with, “But it still has this current running through it of what’s really happening now. So it’s really fun to be playing those two sides: the completely absurd and the completely realistic.”

It’s gotten to the point that Mary sometimes isn’t quite sure how the Kings are tackling issues in the news, weeks before they even air. (Psychic? Time traveller?) Every script is a reminder that what they’re working on, day in and day out, has a hint of truth to it.

“There have been moments I’m getting ready to go to work and I’m watching the news, and I’m realizing that the scenes we’re doing are so current that I didn’t even realize what was happening in the news was a scene we’re about to shoot. Obviously it parallels and we’re taking it in a bit of a different direction that isn’t literal. But I realize, “Omg, we’re talking in this scene about what is happening today.” And it just amazes me how current they are.”

Somewhere along the line there was a fracture within Laurel’s family and she steered clear of the political ties her family had in Washington, DC.  

Mary explained that Laurel moved away, “to find herself, to find her truth, and to find what she felt was real and authentic in the world.” Regrettably she hasn’t found herself no matter what she tries. “She’s been dragged into politics, sort of, against her will. And I think ultimately she may find it (herself) there. It’s somewhere down the line.”

BrainDead Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Danny Pino.

Another reason that Laurel decided to move back to D.C. was her brother Luke Healy, played by Danny Pino. Without giving too much away, the Congressman needed someone he could trust in his office,  and she needed a little help to get back on track. That’s her fancy new job in D.C.,Family dictated that they would both benefit from working together.

The relationship between Laurel and Luke, which includes playful slaps and pointed looks, stands out because of the great casting by the Kings. Mary couldn’t help praising the duo on the people that she’s had the fortune of working with because it made her job all the more easier. “Unexpectedly everyone just came together and fell into the relationships so quickly and the dynamics work so well, kind of straight off the bat. It’s funny, I don’t think got to spend a lot of time hanging out together working on what the dynamics would be. They just sort of happened.”

Every show isn’t complete until you throw a little romance into the ring. That’s where Gareth comes in.

From the first moment Laurel and Gareth meet, there’s a tension in the air. She clearly doesn’t want to be there and he will do what he has to get his way, even throw an ultimatum at Laurel and her brother that will benefit his position with Tony Shalhoub’s, Red Wheatus. Naturally they get under each other’s skin.

Aaron said, “Typically you would see us in the pilot and say, ‘Oh they hate each other. They’re gonna end up together.’ That’s kind of the way it works.”

But BrainDead prides itself on doing things a little differently in all aspects of the show. It’s not just bickering that suddenly turns into longing looks and an epic OTP to cheer for.

When asked about the relationship Mary said, “There’s obviously an attraction. And there’s obviously a repulsion at the same time.”

As the story continues to develop, they get stuck in this hard spot between what’s happening politically and navigating the waters of a budding romance. It’s going to be a push and pull between Laurel and Gareth long before they get together and maybe even after because they’re different people at their very cores.  

“Laurel wants to be involved because it’s something that she’s grown up with. These are issues that are important to her. And her ideals are incredibly important to her. But she doesn’t want anything to do with those people that represent all that is wrong with government.”

A lot of people will be able to relate to Laurel when we take into account the political climate right now in lieu of the upcoming Presidential election. We’re all trying to navigate this incredibly absurd government just like Laurel is. Difference is that the upcoming invasion is just going to complicate things even more. (Or make it better.)

BrainDead's Gareth played by Aaron Tveit.

Gareth is her opposite, according to Aaron.

“On the flip side of that, Gareth is idealistic in the fact that government can work and that we can still do this. You may think it’s naive but I think he does believe in the system and that we can all still do this. I think that there are people out there that feel that way and hope that way. There are a lot of people that still have hope in our country and hopefully people can latch onto that too. I think they’ve (the Kings) done a great job at being fair.”

Hopefully by the end of the episode you’ll see what Mary and Aaron see. Two people just trying to survive an invasion they know nothing about while steering through decision making and politics that has no problem being as ridiculous as the ants eating everyone’s brains!

BrainDead premieres tonight @ 10/9c on CBS.

Lyra

Editor, Writer, Supreme Mugwump

Lyra enjoys loud mouthed, damaged characters, with a penchant for rescuing people and drinking their sorrows away. When she isn’t splurging on Netflix shows she’s not so quietly ranting about Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural!

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