Ben Chaplin, who stars in Amazon’s new original dark comedy “Mad Dogs,” revealed that the most trying part of his portrayal of Joel, a depressed teacher estranged from his wife and children, was effectively communicating the character’s depression in a way that wouldn’t bore audiences.
“The most challenging part of playing the character was trying to play somebody who is struggling with depression and with seeing the negative side of everything, and just trusting that that’s not really boring and irritating to watch,” Chaplin told Variety Wednesday at the Los Angeles premiere, which was held at the Pacific Design Center’s Silver Screen Theater.
“Mad Dogs” is based on a 2011 British TV series of the same name — which also starred Chaplin, but in the role of Alvo. The series follows a middle-aged group of longtime male friends as they travel to Belize to reunite. Their vacation ultimately goes awry, leaving the men intertwined in dark, unexpected situations.
Also challenging about the role of Joel, Chaplin noted, was acting in both versions of the series.
“The pilot was the toughest one, because that was the one that my character was in, so I had to watch someone else do what I’d done,” said Chaplin. “I found myself remembering, (with) almost perfect recall, what the other actor (Philip Glenister) had done who played my part. It was really odd.”
In terms of consistencies between the two series, “Mad Dogs” creator Cris Cole said that, while the shows differ, elements that worked in the British version were “cherry picked” out and implemented into the American version.
“The first four episodes are quite similar, and then it veers off in a very different direction,” said Cole, who also created the original “Mad Dogs.” “Thematically, it’s quite similar. It’s still looking at the same idiocies of middle-aged male friendship.”
Joining Chaplin and Cole at the premiere were “Mad Dogs” executive producer Shawn Ryan and co-stars Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco, Billy Zane, Mark Povinelli and Rachael Holmes.
Imperioli, who portrays a burnt-out rock musician, praises “Mad Dogs'” perspective on middle-aged male friendship.
“[The characters are] old enough that it’s not about going out and having a good time anymore. It’s really about how much we’re going to be there for each other, how much we’re going to love each other and how far we’re willing to go for that,” said Imperioli. The former “Sopranos” star continued, “What is real friendship? And when it’s tested, how strong is friendship? I think that’s what it’s about.”
Povinelli, who portrays a cat mask-wearing hitman, also commented on “Mad Dogs'” approach to friendship, admiring the show’s dark comedic components.
“There’s so much dark humor in it and so much absurdity to the positions they find themselves in, that it becomes kind of funny,” he said.
The full season of “Mad Dogs” will debut to Amazon Prime subscribers in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Austria on Jan. 22.