YOUR HONOR, now in its first season Sunday nights on Showtime, chronicles what happens when high school student Adam Desiato, played by Hunter Doohan, has an asthma attack while driving. Adam accidentally plows into and kills another youth, whose father turns out to be feared New Orleans mobster Jimmy Baxter (played by Michael Stuhlbarg). Adam’s own father is New Orleans Superior Court judge Michael Desiato, played by Bryan Cranston. Michael, until now a completely moral man, will do anything to save his son.
This isn’t even the only complication in Adam’s life. He’s also having an affair with his young high school photographer teacher Frannie, played by Sofia Black-D’Elia. Despite his father’s warnings to tell no one of what happened, Adam confides in Frannie, setting up more ethical quandaries for both of them.
YOUR HONOR is adapted by Peter Moffat from the Israeli series KVODO. Black-D’Elia appeared in the HBO miniseries THE NIGHT OF, which was adapted from the British series CRIMINAL JUSTICE, created by Moffat. Originally from New Jersey, Black-D’Elia was also regular on the comedy series THE MICK and on the science-fiction drama INVISIBLE. Other credits include the series GOSSIP GIRL, SKINS, and BETRAYAL, and the features PROJECT ALMANAC and BEN-HUR.
Doohan was previously a regular in TRUTH BE TOLD. His other credits include the miniseries WHAT/IF and the films WHERE WE DISAPPEAR and SOUNDWAVE.
Both actors participate in an exclusive Zoom interview, speaking from their respective homes, about their work on YOUR HONOR.
ASSIGNMENT X: How do you pronounce your surnames?
HUNTER DOOHAN: My dad was Australian, so over there, it was “Doo-an,” and my mom is from the South, and over there, it’s Doo-han.” So, I’ll answer to either [laughs].
SOFIA BLACK-D’ELIA: Black-Deh-Lee-ah.
AX: Thank you. Did the two of you get together off-set and talk about the relationship between Adam and Frannie?
BLACK-D’ELIA: A lot.
DOOHAN: We got to meet together before. We were texting before we got down to New Orleans, and then I think your first night in New Orleans, we got together and had dinner, and started hanging out, and build a relationship, so you don’t have to get on set and do our kinds of scenes together for the first time you’re meeting [laughs].
AX: Obviously, we know a lot about Adam’s back story right away. For Frannie, did you come up with a back story, is one provided later in the series …?
BLACK-D’ELIA: Yeah, I kind of came up with one for her. You don’t really learn much about where Frannie came from, or what led her to Adam. But that was part of what Hunter and I tried to work on, just the two of us, and to deepen the relationship between the two of them, and make it feel as real as possible. I didn’t want her to seem one-dimensional, so I tried to do as much homework as I could on my own.
AX: Except for maybe the first ten minutes, Adam starts in a place of grief, and guilt, and shock, and the guilt just gets worse. Is that fun to play, is that exhausting to play …?
DOOHAN: I try not to complain about any of the process, because we’re so lucky to be getting to do what we do, but yeah, that was definitely the toughest part of doing this role. Adam really starts to hate himself for what he’s done, and the more that they [Adam and Michael] do, the guilt keeps piling on and piling on, and that was a little tough to shake off. But I brought my cat with me down to New Orleans, so I’d come home, watch some stupid TV, hang out, grab drinks with Sofia, or Lilli [Kay, who plays Jimmy Baxter’s only daughter Fia], our other friend on the show, and it was ultimately a really great experience.
AX: Did Bryan Cranston have any acting advice for either of you?
DOOHAN: Oh, my God. I asked Bryan for advice on everything [laughs]. If I had any trouble with any scene, I’m like [does intimidated voice], “How should I do this?” And he’s great. He definitely offers advice. And you learn so much just from watching him. [to Black-D’Elia] Did he have any advice for you?
BLACK-D’ELIA: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. It’s like a master class. The whole cast – the actors in this show are unbelievable. But just to do a scene with him, I think, it’s hard not to walk away learning something from him.
AX: Most of your scenes as Frannie, at least in what we’ve seen so far, as mainly between Frannie and Adam. Do you have a sense of those scenes as a part of the larger whole of YOUR HONOR?
BLACK-D’ELIA: I think, if we did our jobs correctly, Frannie should seem as complex as most of the other characters in the show, in the sense that she has been justifying her behavior for a really long time. Her relationship with Adam is not okay, and what he does, and what he tells her, puts her in a position that is truly messed up, and she can no longer justify things to herself as easily. So, yeah, I hope by the end of the season, it definitely feels as intertwined with the rest of the stories on the show, and not like a separate tone.
DOOHAN: I think it will. Me and Sofia spent a lot of time talking about our relationship [to Black-D’Elia] and you did such a beautiful job with it.
BLACK-D’ELIA: Thank you.
AX: How long are your characters meant to have been together at the time we meet them?
DOOHAN: We’ve kind of said it was coming close to a year since we’d gotten together.
AX: How do you feel about your characters’ choices? Do you feel like, “I would do it differently,” or do you feel like it’s understandable in the circumstances?
DOOHAN: What if we said, “No”? [laughs] I think even when I read it on the page, you’re reading it like, “No, no, don’t do that. Don’t leave [the scene of the accident].” But it’s a response out of fear. It’s irrational, but to me, he’s panicked, and he just makes an honestly very human response, and I hope that people watching it can take into account everything that he’s going through and feeling, and that people can just relate to that fear and panic that makes him leave, but, for the record, it is a mistake.
AX: And in terms of Frannie’s response to being asked to deal with Adam’s secret …?
BLACK-D’ELIA: Yeah. I don’t agree with really anything about Frannie, personally.
BLACK-D’ELIA: Truly. I love myself and my career a lot more than I’ve ever liked any man, so it was quite hard, actually, to imagine putting everything, my entire life and my livelihood, on the line for a boy. But that was part of the fun and the challenge of the show for me. But yeah, if I were her, I would not have done anything that she did in the entire series [laughs]. Except hug the dog. Because the dog’s really fun and cute.
DOOHAN: That’s true.
AX: That is a very cute dog. Did either of you have to learn how to do anything in order to play your characters, like how to take pictures with an old SLR camera, or …?
DOOHAN: Yeah, actually, I learned how to shoot on film, and develop it in a darkroom, which I had never done before. I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know what I was doing in those scenes. I also had to learn how to do an asthma attack, so I met with a couple of people who have asthma, and a pulmonologist here in L.A., just because that’s something real people deal with, and I didn’t want to offend anyone by not doing my homework on it.
BLACK-D’ELIA: No. I didn’t have to take any pictures in the show. I just talk about photography. I got to learn how to ride a Vespa. I still want that helmet.
DOOHAN: You should’ve stolen it on the last day.
BLACK-D’ELIA: I know, damn it.
AX: There was a long break in production around Episode 6 or 7 for COVID, and then you all came back. Was it difficult returning to the characters, and/or was it difficult dealing with the COVID protocols?
DOOHAN: I felt like we were able to jump back into our characters pretty easily, and our relationships, because luckily, we had six months of getting to shoot how we were all used to, and getting to hang out outside of work, and build our relationships. But coming back, there definitely were some new challenges. All the actors had to wear these face shields that went around our necks and kind of covered our faces, like a Cone of Shame an animal might get after the vet, so that made doing some of the scenes a little difficult, to rehearse with those on [laughs].
AX: Were there initial outbreaks of laughter at how you all looked in the protective gear?
DOOHAN: [laughs] There was always laughter on that set, especially with Bryan making jokes.
AX: How was working in New Orleans? Had you worked there before?
BLACK-D’ELIA: I hadn’t worked there before, but I’d been many times. I think it’s one of the best cities in the world. Working there is a privilege. I hope to do it again soon. Greatest people, greatest food, it’s the best. I’m sure you agree, Hunter.
DOOHAN: Oh, I love New Orleans. It was actually really sad to go back for this last block to finish up. We couldn’t go out to eat at the amazing restaurants, or go out and hang out with anybody from set, because, like Sofia said, the people are amazing. And I think it’s a little bit of a smaller film community, so when we got there, all the crew know each other, and they’re all friends, so it was a lot easier to jump in and make friends on set. The last time we were there, I got to go out during Mardi Gras, so that was a lot of fun. So, I really missed New Orleans, being there this time, and being under COVID quarantine.
AX: Do you have any favorite aspects of the story of YOUR HONOR? Not necessarily the ones that you are in, but are there things about it that just appeal to you as storytelling?
BLACK-D’ELIA: Yeah. What drew me to the script in the first place was the way Peter continues to write about the injustices in our criminal justice system, and white privilege, and the fine line that all of these characters walk. It’s really dangerous, and it feels really exciting, but it’s also heart-wrenching, and awful, and very, I think, truthful to the state of this country. And specifically, I think, Amy Landecker, her character [police detective Nancy Costello], and her as an actress, and her performance in this is probably one of my favorite things, because she has a really fun slow burn, as everybody does, but she’s amazing, and I love that character.
DOOHAN: Honestly, the scripts were so good, I was excited to do all of it. I think probably my favorite stuff that I got to do, as the story goes on, and the more that Bryan Cranston’s character does to cover up the initial crime, and Adam starts to feel more and more guilty, we start to butt heads, and go up against one another. Playing with that relationship was honestly my favorite part.
AX: What would you most like people to know about YOUR HONOR as a show?
DOOHAN: I don’t want them to know anything going into it. I don’t want to spoil anything. I think that, from the moment it starts, it really just picks up steam so fast, and from what I read on the page, I was in it from Page One, so I hope they’re in it from the very beginning, and I hope that it’s exciting, and gripping.
BLACK-D’ELIA: Yeah. I totally agree with what Hunter said. I wouldn’t want them to know much about the plot. I think this is a really hard time for a lot of people right now, and I think watching a lot of television is helping at least my friends and me [laughs], and so, if you need a new show that is not fluffy, and you’re ready to dig into something, then I think this is the one for you.
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with YOUR HONOR actors Hunter Doohan and Sofia Black-D’Elia on Season 1