Spoiler alert: This post contains details from 11.22.63 episode “Other Voices, Other Rooms.” Read at your own risk.
Who better to break down the adventures of Jake Epping than the woman behind it all, right? That’s why Bridget Carpenter, the showrunner of Hulu’s 11.22.63, is writing weekly blogs. Found exclusively on EW, Carpenter’s blogs will take viewers behind the episode they’ve just watched with everything from photographs to stories from set and more.
Dear Constant Viewer,
I have a confession.
While we shot this episode — elegantly written by co-EP Brian Nelson and beautifully directed by James Strong (another Brit!) — I was not on set. I was in Los Angeles, firmly ensconced in 2016, in the edit room with Kevin MacDonald. But that’s not what I need to confess. What I need to tell you is this: NEVER have I been more disappointed and jealous about missing out on a shooting day as I was about missing out on the 1962 dance that Jake and Sadie chaperoned. Why disappointed? Why jealous? Because, Constant Viewers, I am a lindy hopper.
I wrote a play about swing dancing (Fall, published by Samuel French, in case you’re wondering), I took swing dancing lessons for years, I had a partner in Minneapolis whom I called “Lindy Bruce,” I went to swing dance camp. (You heard me, SWING DANCE CAMP. Stop snickering.) I love swing dancing with every bone in my body, and I can shim sham with the best of them. “Dancing is life,” Stephen King writes, and it’s true. James Franco took dance lessons for weeks — between scene setups, no less. Sarah Gadon already knew how to lindy. We had a gym full of teenagers and “Little Brown Jug” cued up and ready to play. And the resulting scene is one of the more thrilling and romantic time-travel moments I’ve ever seen.
And me? I missed it.
Bitter, party of one?
I’m sorry to start the blog with this rant. Obviously I’m still not over it. Someday… maybe James Franco and I will run into one another at a swank industry event, and “Little Brown Jug” will (inexplicably) start to play, and he’ll hold out his arms, and THEN we’ll lindy hop until the proverbial cows come home.
…Sorry, where was I?
Right, episode 3! This is the episode where Jake settles in and has to truly live in the past. When we last saw Jake, he was standing in the rain, realizing that the Past could, in fact, be changed… though it wouldn’t be easy. And in knowing this, he comes to know that he cannot NOT try to save Kennedy. Like it or not, he’s in.
And so is Bill Turcotte. Bill, Bill, Bill — how we writers loved you! You became everything we wanted to say to Jake, every question we had about time travel, every warning. And even though Jake knows it’s not the most prudent idea to bring Bill into his plans… let’s face it, living in the past is lonely. It must have been a tremendous relief to have a friend — a brother — with whom to share his plans.
In this episode, we begin to see what it takes for Jake to maintain two lives. One life in idyllic small-town Jodie; one life in Fort Worth, where Lee Harvey Oswald comes back to live. Bill and Jake have to teach themselves to be spies — no small feat when they are amateur spies spying on (perhaps) another spy. Essential not to be seen. Essential not to be known. Not only because of Lee — but because of the Past.
AND this is the episode that sees the return of Sadie Dunhill. When we saw her in Dallas way back in the pilot… she was Sadie Clayton. Things change in two years. Now, this librarian finds herself in Jodie, on the same faculty, in the same town where Jake has decided to lay low. How is this going to play out, I wonder?
AND AND AND — this is ALSO the episode where we meet Principal Deke Simmons, embodied by Nick Searcy, and Miz Mimi Corcoran, played by the phenomenally talented Tonya Pinkins. They’re both characters who Jake attaches to — despite Al’s warning about getting close to people in the past.
This was an episode where a lot happened, let’s just say that. Not only do we dig into Jake’s new life, we move two years further into the 60s, bringing us to 1962. And Lee Harvey Oswald returns to America after having defected to Russia. And here’s our old friend George de Mohrenschildt! As I said, Constant Viewer — a lot happened.
Notes from the set:
The first shots of “Other Voices, Other Rooms” happened at 3:00 a.m. when we did the cliffhanger overlap between parts 2 and 3 — as Bill Turcotte confronted Jake at the rest stop in the middle of nowhere. That put two directors on the same set at the same time: Fred Toye and James Strong. They each threw GIGANTIC TANTRUMS that the other was “trespassing on my set” and had to be pulled apart.
Just kidding. Look at these two. They’re puppies. They were so gentlemanly it was boooooring.
Another example of the amazing art direction and props work below — the odds that a sign of 1960 Kentucky motel rates would appear on camera were tiny, but our art department was ready for any eventuality.
We based the Sisters of Southern Heritage on an actual historical sorority that celebrated the Confederacy, but for legal reasons we needed to create a fictionalized version, replete with this amazing seal from our art department!
We were shooting during the summer of 2015, when the Confederate flag became a topic of national conversation — so shooting the scene where we took over an auditorium and filled it with JFK’s right-wing enemies felt surreal and disturbing once we put up the giant flag that was being pulled down amid great debate at roughly the same time.
George McKay, who played Bill Turcotte, stayed in vocal character offscreen, keeping his Kentucky accent. When the shoot ended and we heard his British accent again, it was startling.
How to make that crawl space as disgusting as possible and yet still a viable shooting space? This is one of Production Designer Carol Spier’s most underappreciated sets. Our new director of photography Adam Suschitzky turned this set into an eerie hellscape once he shone light through every little crevice.
Constant Viewers, have you been noting any changes in the title sequence? Do tweet me any of the Easter eggs you may be finding, or your conspiracy theories. I’ll throw you one main titles egg (though not the only one) — check the song title on the record player!
And because this particular Easter Egg is delicious, and deliciously impossible, I’ll give this away as well: The location of General Walker’s rally is the same location where Stephen King’s The Dead Zone was filmed.
Until next week, Constant Viewers,
For more insight, follow Bridget on Twitter @BridgetCarpen12.