Evan Peters interview: ‘Mare of Easttown’

Evan Peters is doing double duty these days filming both the latest installment of “AHS” for FX and the title role in the Netflix limited series “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” Earlier this year, he had a buzzed-about cameo in the Disney+ limited series “WandaVision,” as an ersatz portrayer of Wanda’s brother Pietro (he had played this role for real in the “X-Men” film franchise). And for this spring, he surprised fans with his change-of-pace part in the acclaimed HBO limited series “Mare of Easttown.”  The actor readily admits he was drawn to this role of detective Colin Zabel for the chance to play opposite Kate Winslet as the title character, Mare Sheehan. (Be warned: Spoilers ahead)

Peters says he learned as much from the Oscar and Emmy-winning actress as Zabel did from Sheehan. I am still learning my process and Colin has gone through a lot of that. Kate is such a brilliant actress that I wanted to soak up as much as I could. Coming into it, Colin is trying to figure out the best way to do his job. He sees how good Mare is at her job and admires her for that.”

But Zabel rubs Sheehan the wrong way from the outset. She resents him being parachuted in to help her solve the murder of teen mom Erin McMenamin (Cailee Spaeny). While the younger detective exudes confidence, he is harboring a secret: he did not crack the case that won him plaudits. For the actor, conveying this impostor syndrome was part of the appeal of his character, which had evolved from writer Brad Ingelsby‘s initial concept of the brash interloper. “We switched it up. I didn’t feel like I would be cocky if I had this lie under my belt. I would be a little insecure.” He readily admits to being nervous himself: “I was fumbling and tripping over things and I just said, ‘we should put that in there.’ It is funny to me that she just does not want him there.”

Zabel is still living with his mother, Judy (Deborah Hedwall). He carries a torch for Sheehan, who does her best to snuff it out at every opportunity. He finally works up the courage to ask her out on a date, and is miffed when she accepts only as a way to learn about his progress in the murder investigation. Colin then reveals the truth about his big break to Mare in a tender scene. The audience is rooting for him, which makes his death at the hands of a suspect in episode five even more upsetting. Peters says he was shocked when he read about the fate of his character. “I knew it was only five episodes and I wondered what happens to him, where does he go. My jaw dropped to the floor.”

Peters relished working with director Craig Zobel on a pivotal moment for Zabel: his drunk scene in episode three. The pandemic had forced the production to shut down for months and in that unscheduled break they came up with a winning combination of despair and desire. “We wanted it to be shocking how drunk he was and hitting on a co-worker. Making him so drunk helps with the secret later on that he is trying to hide and bury.”

The actor did his own detective work prior to playing the part, with extensive research and correspondence with the real-life cop who inspired Ingelsby to create the show. And he put in time with dialect coach Susanne Sulby to nail that difficult Delco dialect.

Regarding the role he is playing in his ninth appearance in the “AHS” franchise, Peters can’t say much. But he does describe his character in three words.  Watch our interview to find these out as well as the way he came to be in “Wandavision.”

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UPLOADED Jul 14, 2021 4:41 pm