Fisher Stevens interview: ‘Palmer’ director
“Very exciting for little Ryder Allen and for the film, it’s our first award acknowledgement/nomination, so it’s very exciting for us,” reveals director Fisher Stevens the morning that his new film “Palmer” scored a Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Young Actor or Actress. Although Apple TV+ only released the drama on January 29, the Justin Timberlake vehicle contends for Oscars and other awards against films from 2020, due to the eligibility period being extended in light of the global pandemic. Stevens admits, “We’re a little late in the game for it, but we’re excited; it’s great!”
“Palmer” remarkably represents Allen’s first on-screen credit. Stevens explains about getting “really lucky” in casting him, “The role was so difficult because I needed somebody who was young who could play Sam — a boy who was willing to get into a dress and play with dolls and I really thought I was going to cast somebody about nine or 10 years old, to be honest, because I didn’t think I could find anybody at seven, even though the role was for a seven-year-old, but a real seven-year-old who could actually handle learning lines — handle that role. When Ryder walked in, I was first very nervous about his age, being seven and also at seven, you get less time to shoot on a set because of child labor laws and he was really good at the audition with me, but it wasn’t until he read with Justin Timberlake that we knew he was it and he just lit up.”
Stevens has been filming his role since November on the upcoming third season of “Succession,” for which he has been promoted to the main cast as a series regular, having joined last season as a recurring guest star, playing senior communications executive Hugo Baker. He laments that he does not know when shooting will conclude, as it is progressing slowly in New York under COVID protocols.
An Oscar-winning documentarian for 2009’s “The Cove,” Stevens has also been directing a documentary about the Lincoln Project that began production in September and producing two others. He earned his fifth career Emmy Award nomination last summer for producing “Tiger King.” Stevens teases about a possible continuation, “There may be something coming up.”
He explains with reference to repeat producing collaborator Leonardo DiCaprio, “I’m always writing Leo about, ‘Should we do a documentary on this now?’ Because there’s always so much, we’re always trying to figure out what to do next, but making documentaries about the environment is very tough, although I am producing a cool one on the Amazon with these young directors that I love.”