Darren Criss, Dylan McDermott, Patti LuPone, Jim Parsons, and more join EW's Around the Table series.

By Maureen Lee Lenker
April 29, 2020 at 09:00 AM EDT
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"We basically give Hollywood the Hollywood treatment," quips Darren Criss, when asked to give an elevator pitch of his new Netflix series.

Simply named Hollywood, the new Ryan Murphy series features Criss (also acting as an executive producer this go-round) and an ensemble of talent that includes Dylan McDermott, Patti LuPone, David Corenswet, Jake Picking, Samara Weaving, Laura Harrier, Jim Parsons, and Jeremy Pope. A revisionist take on the 1940s studio system, it follows a group of young, aspiring artists as they chase their dreams and work to dismantle a system built to exclude them.

Ahead of the show hitting Netflix on May 1, we remotely gathered the cast for a special "At Home" edition of our Around the Table series. The team gathered over Zoom to talk everything from where they wish they could be gathering for cocktails (hint: it involves Patti LuPone's basement) to the secret to mastering a Mid-Atlantic accent.

"I like how Ryan called it 'faction,' the mixture of real characters and real situations, but how the changes that are being made now, what would happen if they were changed then?" Weaving explains of the show. "It is eerily similar how much hasn't changed at the same time."

The series gave the cast the opportunity to delve into films and history of the era, everything from biographies of studio heads to the oeuvre of Rock Hudson. "I became obsessed with Old Hollywood," LuPone marvels. "Every time we were some place, I'm looking around for what is left."

Parsons was one of the few of the core cast to play a real figure from history, which heightened his own experience. "It ended up being a very moving experience to me because Henry was somebody who was a gay man in that time, but it was nice to be able to have several little anecdotes that he had partaken in that gave a lot of color to how I felt about what we were doing," he reflects.

That classic ethos began even with the cast's auditions. Samara Weaving explains that the initial sides she got for the project were script pages from Billy Wilder classic Some Like It Hotand she had no idea what she was auditioning for until being offered the role.

Harrier had a similar experience with sides simply labeled "Old Hollywood" before being called in for chemistry read with Criss. "Do you remember how nervous I was?" asks Criss, "It was such a joke. This is so stupid. We had three actresses and this is their day and I was trying to keep it cool. But this is a very Hollywood moment, where I'd never done a chemistry read before. That whole scenario I felt really nervous for the girls and whatever nerves they might have had or not  had manifested in my own body."

Harrier reassures him, "It helped because you were so nervous it made me less nervous but you already had the part."

SAEED ADYANI/NETFLIX

From learning how to rock a fedora to mastering the art of the Mid-Atlantic accent, Hollywood required the entire cast to enmesh themselves in the era. "I was very intimidated by this Mid-Atlantic accent because what I didn't realize is, I just thought that's how people talked back then because that's how everyone's speaking in movies, but they didn't. They talked like us," Harrier says.

She and much of the cast had to go through "starlet training" similar to what their characters experience on-screen. "Once you have it down, it's really fun. It really created the period," she reflects.

Picking and Parsons had the extra challenge of having to adjust their dialect and improvise while wearing fake teeth. "They were a little hard to get used to," says Picking, while Parsons adds, "The teeth were a struggle."

Ah, the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. For more on how they brought old movie magic to television, watch the full video above.

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