Craig Zobel interview: ‘Mare of Easttown’ director

“What do we do to beat Kate just telling the story? What’s going to be even better than that? What is an image that is going to be impactful and resonant?” director Craig Zobel declares about one of the most talked-about scenes in HBO’s Emmy-0winning “Mare of Easttown,” for which Zobel was nominated for an Emmy and now a DGA Award.

We talked with Zobel as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A roundtable event with 2022 Directors Guild Awards nominees. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

SEE Gold Derby interviews with 2022 Oscar contenders

In the pivotal scene that comes half-way through the devastating penultimate episode, Mare (played by Oscar and Emmy winner Kate Winslet) finally opens up in therapy about her trauma and grief over her son Kevin’s suicide. As she recounts that fateful day, the episode flashes back to Mare hysterically bounding out of her car, into her home and up to the attic to discover her son hanging by one of the beams. It was a choice Zobel and his team didn’t make lightly, because Winslet so deftly portrayed Mare’s grief in the therapy room.

“Just sitting there watching her do that in the therapy office was emotional for everybody on set,” he admits. “I knew that we had the scene in a way, so we were able to kind of layer on top of that,” he says. “It wasn’t a very long day, but her going up in the attic and seeing all that stuff, I think that there was maybe two takes or three takes. She couldn’t do that a whole lot of times, just because it was so emotional.”

Created by Brad Ingelsby, with all seven of its episodes directed by Zobel, the HBO limited series stars Winslet as Mare Sheehan, a small-town Pennsylvania detective investigating a local murder as her life starts to unravel. Even Peters co-stars Colin Zabel, a county detective who is known for recently solving a nearby cold case brought in to assist. While Mare is a local hero as the star of a high-school basketball championship game 25 years ago, she has been unable to solve the case of another missing young girl for a year, leading many in the community to doubt her detective skills. Her personal troubles include a recent divorce, a son lost to suicide that has her crippled with grief, and a custody battle with her ex-heroin addict former daughter-in-law over Mare’s grandson.

“Mare of Easttown” was a huge success for the pay cabler last year, buoyed by rave reviews, strong word-of-mouth and an impressive 16 Emmy nominations including Best Limited Series, with wins including Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actress for Winslet, Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actor for Peters, and Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actress for Julianne Nicholson.

Zobel is nominated by the DGA this year for directing the entire seven-episode series.

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UPLOADED Feb 25, 2022 8:04 am