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Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph on the ‘Simmering Secret’ of ‘Forever’

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Forever,” streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.

The word “forever” is often used flippantly, but as the title of Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang’s new Amazon series, it proves to be the actual amount of time its characters will spend together — because they’re both deceased and navigating a mysterious afterlife world.

Oscar (Fred Armisen) and June (Maya Rudolph) are first introduced to viewers as a married couple who easily slip into a routine. She started dating him, we’re told, because he was “nice” to her.

“Seeing their courtship is something that people can identify with because that’s how I think people imagine courtship looks like — that steady rhythm all the way through,” Armisen tells Variety.

As the show continues, though, both characters are “keeping a lot on the inside,” reveals Rudolph. “There’s so much that June doesn’t say in her life, and it’s about not being sure about yourself, about the choices that you’ve made. Is this person right for me and am I happy? Or this person’s lovely, but do I love myself? All of those questions she’s not really saying out loud…you feel like you have this simmering secret.”

But she enjoyed that challenge, she says, adding, “I love playing knowing that there’s something brewing but you’re uncomfortable talking about it and you’re skirting around it.”

June’s internal concerns over the “monotony and the day to day mundane” grow, but when they attempt a vacation at a ski resort, Oscar dies in a ski accident. And then, after falling into a new routine of mourning, she decides to go on another trip, but chokes on the plane — and dies as well. They’re reunited in the afterlife, where they can fall back into a comfortable pattern, or branch out with new friends and experiences.

“They were presented with a situation that was unlike anything they could have expected, so they were understandably unprepared,” Armisen says. “To be presented with something like that, it’s like [being] sideswiped, in a way.”

Oscar, for his part, never felt that their marriage was in a rut, but June is a bit more shaken up.

“It’s one thing to wish that your life was different, but it’s another thing to manifest that or to actually carry that out,” she says. “I don’t think June would have been the type of person to carry any of these wishes out, unless she was forced into a situation. And so, this is kind of this gift to her.”

While Oscar is initially content to help his teenage neighbor Mark (Noah Robbins) try to make a romantic connection with his old high school crush, rather than try to rekindle a spark of his own with June, June begins to bond with new neighbor Kase (Catherine Keener) and explore other options for her life.

Both Oscar and June end up making some bold moves, and he finally unloads some of his repressed emotions on her. “I think both characters, the stuff that came out of their mouths, they were surprised at themselves. That filter just disappeared,” Armisen says.

And both have to finally make the decision about whether or not to change their lives more drastically. “It’s that fight or flight,” Rudolph points out.

But while ultimately they decide to try to weather whatever is next together, there is still a sense of ambiguity about what that means for them individually, which Rudolph feels is crucial to their storytelling.

“I just like that there’s any and all possibility in this in that it’s not saying relationships are good or bad,” she says. “We all experience them in different ways, and they all take turns.”

Given that both she and Armisen also served as executive producers of the show, Rudolph admits that “there is an element of Fred and Maya already mixed into Oscar and June,” which helped them understand their characters immediately. But their storylines ended up diverging in ways they didn’t expect, as well. “There was a lot of time spent doing that stuff separate [from Fred], which was strange because the whole point was to do this together,” she says.

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