Variety Streaming Room
The cast and crew of Apple TV Plus’ “Defending Jacob” reunited for a conversation in Variety’s Streaming Room about the limited drama series, which stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery as Andy…
The cast and crew of Apple TV Plus’ “Defending Jacob” reunited for a conversation in Variety’s Streaming Room about the limited drama series, which stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery as Andy and Laurie Barber, parents of a 14-year-old boy (Jaeden Martell) accused of murdering a classmate. They were joined by co-stars Cherry Jones and J.K. Simmons, and the show’s creator/writer Mark Bomback and director Morten Tyldum to discuss the twists and turns of the series, which aired eight episodes from April 24 – May 29.
Based on the 2012 novel by William Landay, Bomback says the story was originally sent to him as a potential film, but he saw it as a limited series. “It’s not really the kind of story we make as films anymore, certainly not for the multiplex,” Bomback noted. “You can envision what the film would have been. It would have been a lot of plot, a lot of just engine and not really enough time to focus on character.” It was that character exploration that appealed to Bomback, who added he wanted to “really deep dive in terms of character and what it means to be a human being.
While the series ends on a somewhat ambiguous note about Jacob’s guilt or innocence, Martell said he had to make up his own mind in order to play the role “The first question I had for them, of course, is whether he did it or not. And they just said, ‘You choose. You decide for yourself and don’t tell anybody.’” Martell revealed. “It’s interesting, just being able to walk around and be in a scene and look at Chris and Michelle, and know that I know something that they don’t know.”
Evans, who is also an executive producer on the series, noted, “The end result of whether or not he did it isn’t as interesting as seeing two people, Andy and Laurie, grapple with the circumstance. They both love their son equally. It’s just there’s two different people — Andy’s had a lifetime of developing the skills to compartmentalize and bury things down and do what he needs to do in order to keep this belief system intact. And when presented with the same uncertainty, Laurie has a very different approach. Laurie can’t cope. Laurie can’t be a part of that web of deceit. And so, it’s not even about whether he did it or didn’t. It’s about how two different people grapple with that uncertainty.”