SPOLER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched all five episodes of “Candy,” now streaming on Hulu.
“Candy” viewers knew that star Melanie Lynskey’s real-life husband, Jason Ritter, was appearing in the new series — but they didn’t expect to see Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel’s husband pop up as one of the other cops working the case of Betty’s murder.
As it turns out, it was Timberlake’s idea to join the true-crime show. While the duo often share scripts and notes with each other, this time was a bit different.
“He loved the the episodes too, and said, ‘Who’s playing this guy?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. Probably an Atlanta local. We don’t really have any money left. We sort of spent it all on our main cast and this is one of our last cast members that we need to cast,'” she tells Variety. “He said, ‘I want to do it.’ And I really thought, ‘OK, that’s funny. I’d love for you to do this, but I know that’s not really for real.’ He’s like, ‘No, no, no. For real. I see how funny he could be, but he’s the one who really sees through her story. He’s this major adversary for her. From the very beginning, he doesn’t believe it for one second.'”
After making sure Timberlake was serious, Biel called her producing partner, Michelle Purple. By the time she called, Purple had already spoken to Timberlake. The next step was calling creators Robin Veith and Nick Antosca, as well as director Mike Uppendahl. Then they all sat down with Timberlake.
“All he wanted was a prosthetic belly and a wig. And he goes, ‘You don’t have to pay me anything. Just make sure I have my wig that I want, make sure I have a prosthetic belly,'” Biel recalls. “We’re like, ‘We can do that!'”
A few weeks later, when the producers were working on casting the other police officer, Veith thought of Ritter — especially when they realized that in the show’s finale, the two police officers would be doing the reenactment of what happened. Timberlake’s character plays Biel’s Candy while Ritter takes on Melanie’s Betty.
“Our heads exploded. It was so funny. We just laughed so hard about the idea, and it just turned out so beautifully, because those two should have their own cop buddy comedy. They’re so funny together,” Biel says. “We already know Justin is like a comedic genius. Jason is unbelievable. I mean it’s not a surprise, but wow. It was amazing to watch them work together.”
Biel added that it was “nerve-racking” when they began filming together.
“At first I felt a little like, ‘Oh gosh, am I going to be able to be free and are my nerves going to get the best of me, because now it’s my partner sitting across from me?’ I wasn’t sure, but it was the total opposite,” she says. “It was so comfortable and easy to improvise and they were making this environment on set more fun than it normally was because they’re really improvising together. It sort of gave me freedom to do that too. I think he’s just a big supporter of mine in our relationship and at work, privately and personally, so he was just holding a lot of good, sacred space for me to feel comfortable. And I was doing the same for him. I hope he felt the same way. But it was it was a lot of fun being adversaries, that’s for sure.”
Biel is hopeful that one day, she and Timberlake can work together again on screen.
“I think we’ve always been kind of curious, like, well, when is that going to happen and what should it be? It has to be the right thing,” she says. “If you’re gonna play romantic leads or something, that’s a really particular thing. You’ve got to do it really well. This is a really safe place to sort of explore what it’s like to be on opposite sides, and then what’s the next step from here? What can we do after this? It definitely opened up my mind to thinking about other things we can work together on.”