Somebody Somewhere star Bridget Everett previews her new series about grief and finding where you belong
When Somebody Somewhere begins, we find Sam (Bridget Everett) in a state of limbo. After the death of her sister Holly, she's not quite sure if Kansas is where she's meant to be. Or what she's meant to be doing. Or what brings her joy.
The new HBO series follows Sam as she tries to be there for her family and starts to find her place thanks to a new (old) friend, Joel (Jeff Hiller), and a renewed love of singing. EW spoke with Everett about the journey to make the heartfelt comedy.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this all start? Was this an idea you had or was it brought to you?
BRIDGET EVERETT: I got a deal with HBO and then I called the smartest person I know, Carolyn Strauss, and I was like, "Can you help me figure this out?" And so she suggested Paul [Thureen] and Hannah [Bos], who are the creators, and they pitched the idea to us and I was really blown away. I was like, this is such a cool idea, to go home, basically. They added in the dead sister, and I have a dead sister, and there's a music element, so it all felt like a great fit.
So how much of it is from your life?
I think the themes are. The loss of a sister, the feeling lost and rudderless and purposeless in life, and alone. Those were themes in my 30s and into my early 40s that I can definitely relate to. But the family looks a little different. The other part that's similar to my life is the community that Sam ends up finding, and the friends. There are differences and similarities. We both have the same body type, both have blond hair, both have nice trim ankles, but also just a total s---show on the inside. [Laughs]
Being from Kansas yourself, what were the specific Kansas things you wanted to make sure were part of the show?
I was like, we got to have limestone buildings, you have to feel the sky, you have to feel the purple. Kansas State University is my hometown, you see purple everywhere. There's just a lot of small things, from wardrobe details to haircuts to the way people would talk. I haven't lived in Kansas for a number of years, but my family is still there, so I just tried to infuse as much of that as possible. Because if it doesn't look or feel like Kansas, they're going to come for me, you know? And I know that. I hope that they're proud. That's all I can hope, because my mom and brother still live there, so I'm still going to be on the streets of the Little Apple and I don't want people throwing s--- at me when I'm walking down the street. [Laughs]
I really love the relationship Sam has with Tricia [Mary Catherine Garrison], her surviving sister, because it feels so authentic to the love-hate dynamic of siblings.
Yeah, the pendulum swings, at least in my experience, so hard and wide with family, you know? I can have the best time talking to my brothers and sisters, and then they can say one thing and I'm a puddle of tears on the floor. Every slight comment can be an explosive dig that breaks your heart. But you need them, and Sam and Tricia need each other. Sam only sees it through her eyes. Like, "I've lost Holly," and she's not even thinking about Tricia's experience in the world, and I think that it's cool that we see them finding some common ground because they need each other.
Jeff Hiller is so good as Joel. Did you know him before this?
Yeah. I've known of Jeff for a number of years, and wherever Jeff pops up, you know that you're going to smile and enjoy yourself. Jeff is so versatile and just radiates warmth. And Jeff auditioned just like everybody else. I just think that there's nothing that Jeff can't do. So Joel reaps the benefits of Jeff's immense talent.
I feel like we so often see, on television, long-term friendships, but I like that they meet and just instantly connect. That feels so authentic to how you make good friends as adults.
Yeah. I think one of my favorite things in life is meeting somebody and falling in love with them. And not like the way that you're going to go out back and bang. I love that falling-in-love-with-a-friend feeling, and as an adult, it just feels there's something so sacred about it. And I really wanted that to be a part of the show. We all did.
Did anything surprise you about this experience?
For as hard as it was, it was also easy in a way. The hours are long, and it's a lot of work, and a lot of focus and concentration and all those sorts of things, but the experience is about trusting your gut. That's always going to be the easiest way to do things, you know? I know that sounds really simple, but Carolyn really empowered all of us to trust our instincts, fight for what felt important. And I don't know, I just think that that was the most invaluable thing that I took away from the experience.
Did you go into this thinking this was a one-season story, or are you hoping to continue this if given the chance?
Well, my life has been full of disappointment, so I don't expect a season 2. [Laughs] I think that we were all just like, "Oh my God, can you guys believe that we're going to be on HBO and that we're getting to do this?" We wrapped and I'm like, "Well, that was great." But now that that I'm past doing the first season, we've edited it, and it's coming on air, I'd love to keep doing it. If dreams come true, can't they just last a little bit longer if we want them to?
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Somebody Somewhere premieres Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.