Hello, Spoiler Roomies! As you read this I’m getting eaten alive by mosquitoes in my motherland (Texas). But I’ve taken a break from vacation to bring you a spoiler-filled Q&A with Weeds creator Jenji Kohan about season 7 (kicks off Monday!), which will hopefully tide you over until I can return and answer a ton of your questions.
On that note, remember to send any and all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org (note the two “r”s) or Tweet them to me at @EWSandraG. I’m still off next week, but I’ll see you the week after! Until then!
SPOILER ROOM: So we pick up three years later in the premiere. How are we going to learn about how prison has affected Nancy?
JENJI KOHAN: You can’t help but be affected by your experiences; however, one of the core mantras of this show seems to be that people don’t change. I think, in a lot of ways, that perhaps prison was just furthering her education in crime school. In prison, she did what she needed to do in order to survive, and now that she’s back again, I don’t think it’s too long before she falls into her old habits.
She kicks off the business once again.
Yeah. She’s certainly attracted to it, and it’s the family business, so it’s hard to walk away from that.
Do we get the sense that she’s learned any lesson at all, or has it rolled off of her?
I think more than anything, it’s rolled off of her. Do we ever learn our lessons? Not really. [Laughs] Nope. Would it be any fun if we did? Probably not. So I think she really has done some thinking and wants to get back on the horse.
And wants to get back on iced coffee, as well, I’m sure.
Indeed! We had a lot of discussion about that, actually. We took a skeleton crew and shot some stuff in New York, and one of the things on the schedule was for her to sort of collapse in worship in front of a coffee place. We didn’t have time to shoot it, but there will be definite nods to her other addiction — beyond danger.
It’s interesting that you call prison “crime school.” Are we going to get the sense that she’s better at it now because of the time she served? Did she learn any new tricks?
Um, I don’t know if she’s ever better at it because I think with any criminal activity, you fly by the seat of your pants. There’s no agenda; there’s no minutes on the board meeting that day. You have to figure it out as you go, and circumstances can change so quickly. I’m sure she got tips and leads on things while she was in prison, but it’s a seat-of-your-pants kind of occupation, and that’s what she loves. I think she’ll just keep seeing what she can do.
Tell me about the decision to jump three years in the future.
It was a huge decision. It was a huge decision for us because we usually start the next minute [after the season ends] and everyone yells at us because Shane’s grown 8 inches and it’s technically only two hours later. But this year, it was really a matter of “Do we want to do prison?” Did we want to go into the minutiae of her talking about Esteban’s business? Or did we want to explore witness protection? And none of those areas were things we were particularly enchanted with when we were breaking the season. So we figured, let’s just catch up to where they are and let’s just proceed from there. Prison, in a lot of ways, is lost time. It is, they call it, sitting in stir. We wanted to see her active and with her people, and it would have been two shows in one, I think.
Are we going to see flashbacks to that time?
Probably not. There’s a lot of references and certainly people from that time will come back and inform us as to what she might have been doing when she was off camera. We also allude to what the boys had been doing in Copenhagen, and Andy and Doug, while she was in prison. In episode 1, you really try to bring everyone in and really get them going for the season. Truthfully, we have a lot of housekeeping to do. We had to sort of bring our whole audience up to speed, so that’s kind of what the first episode’s about.
What can you tell me about the guest cast we’ll be seeing this season.
Jennifer Jason Leigh is always a treat and a delight, and it’s such a great sister relationship, just to continue the dysfunctional family. Martin Short is an attorney who’s helping out Nancy. Aidan Quinn is a potential love interest. I love the guest casting and the name casting, but I’m also really proud of the in-house casting we do and just random actors who audition and turn out to be fantastic. We have some casting gods smiling down on us often at Weeds.
It’s interesting that you say Aidan Quinn is a possible interest, because I was still holding out for Nancy and Andy.
Aww! I know, I know! I mean, talk about dysfunction. You want to see it, but also, everyone’s standing there, saying, “DON’T DO IT, MAN! NO!” They’re certainly connected in each other’s lives and everything, but I think Andy needs to branch out a little bit, and hopefully we’ll see that this season.
Are there any episodes you’re especially excited for people to see?
I think they’re all great. I’m so excited about what I’m reading and what we’re shooting and posting. We’re right in the thick of it right now. I’m just truly excited by all of it. We’re in New York now, and it’s a whole new ballgame. There’s just a lot of exciting stuff coming down the pike, and the writers are so good at what they do and it’s like asking, “What’s your favorite finger?” I can’t; they all serve a purpose.
But you guys aren’t filming here in New York, right?
No, we are not. We never left Hollywood to go across country. We just don’t have the budget. I wish we did — but I don’t wish we did because truthfully, we have a remarkable crew out here. We probably couldn’t take them all with us back east, and I would hate to see the family that has developed for 7 years suddenly split apart. It’s not ideal to shoot LA for New York, but it’s worth it to me to have our people doing it. I’m sure Mary Louise is not thrilled because we make her come out here from New York every year, and she’s like, “I came all the way out to LA to shoot New York? What’s going on?” But as I said, we did shoot some B-roll with her in New York, and we’re doing our best to remain authentic and true to the spirit of the city.
Well, you guys went cross-country last year. I’m sure staying in one place won’t be as hard as that.
Exactly. And we’re also hoping to explore parts of New York that people don’t see as often, like Washington Heights, and Queens and different areas, so I think that’ll be fun.
Are they going to have roots this time around?
You know, they are gypsies at heart, but I think any time you come to a new place, you have to have some kind of home base — just so you feel grounded. But home is where your family is. Wherever you are, it’s about the people you’re surrounded by, not necessarily where you lay your head.
Are we going to see the recurring characters back too, like Doug?
Oh sure. Sure. Maybe some surprises this season, we’ll see. Maybe some faces from the past. I’m not at liberty to say. We’re elephants down here, we never forget. We really believe our auxiliary cast are full whole people with lives that continue as our casts’ lives continue. So people can always come back, unless they’re dead which happens.
A little Jeffrey Dean Morgan flashback would be great. He’s a big movie star now, though.
Oh I know. I know. We were extraordinarily lucky.
Lastly, is this the final season?
My deal’s up. This is my baby, but who knows. But as far as I know, we don’t have a deal for season 8. I don’t know what the future holds.
Excited about the new season, Roomies?