‘Mare of Easttown’ executive producer Mark Roybal: ‘It’s a throwback to when we did have those water cooler moments’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

Mark Roybal has been wanting to work with “Mare of Easttown” creator Brad Inglesby for more than a decade. They got close with Inglesby’s feature script, “Nancy and Danny” but it took this seven-part TV show to bring them together. They were rewarded for their effort with record ratings and a whopping 16 Emmy nominations, including Best Limited Series. Roybal recalls that they watched the nominations announcement together and “we were so thrilled for the cast but also for everyone else involved, all the artisans below-the-line.”

The executive producer credits the writer for crafting a story that was so compelling. “I devoured his pilot script. I called him the next morning to say I wanted to be part of this. I fell in love with Mare Sheehan. My heart broke for her and I just wanted to know that she was going to be okay.”

Inglesby has said that Roybal made invaluable contributions to the structure of the story and key characters. While he downplays his own input, the executive producer does allow that “I encouraged him to write a second script and as he turned them in, I would respond emotionally to what was and wasn’t working, issues of logic and where I wanted to see the story go and what was missing.”

When it came to finding a home for the project, the producer is pleased that they chose to go with HBO over other offers. The premium cable network aired a new episode every Sunday, which Roybal readily admits helped to built the buzz. “I think that the timing of it, that people wanted to take a breather and wait a week – they had that patience. There was this communal experience of watching it and talking about it week to week. It was a throwback to when we did have those water cooler moments.”

Kate Winslet signed on in two capacities: as leading lady and co-executive producer. Roybal was relieved when one of her demands was the opposite of what you might expect from an Oscar and Emmy winner. Watch our interview to find out what that was and to learn about the challenges he faced when both shutting down and restarting production because of the pandemic.

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