Mark Roybal interview: ‘Mare of Easttown’ producer
“Mare of Easttown” premiered on HBO last April and immediately had viewers hooked on the small town murder mystery led by Kate Winslet. Critics lauded the limited series and it went on to receive 16 Primetime Emmy nominations, winning Best Actress for Winslet, Best Supporting Actor for Evan Peters and Best Supporting Actress for Julianne Nicholson. For executive producer Mark Roybal, it was the title character of the project that made him want to become involved. Watch the full interview with the PGA Awards nominee above.
“Brad [Ingelsby] sent me the script of the pilot and I just responded to the character of Mare,” Roybal tells Gold Derby in our “Meet the Experts” panel for Producers Guild Awards nominees. “She was tough, but she was also incredibly injured. By the end of the pilot I didn’t know what was going to happen to her, but I wanted to know if she was going to be okay. I wanted to know if this town was going to be okay. Everything was resting on her and that was such a mark of great storytelling.”
Once Roybal was on board to executive produce, the most important piece of casting was to find their Mare. “I’ve got to say we were pretty blessed,” Roybal confesses. “Brad wrote the pilot and, at the time, ‘Sharp Objects’ was on HBO and was doing incredibly well. That also was about a woman going into a small town and looking into a murder. I said to Brad, ‘We probably need to distinguish ourselves. What about writing a second script?’ So he wrote a second script within a month. He gave it to me and we talked about who would be the perfect person. Who could handle the complexity? Who could handle the depth of character and handle the themes? We thought, Kate Winslet.”
“Brad thought, could we really get her?” Roybal continues. “Is she really going to want to go back to television? Isn’t she going to have all these movies? We thought, why don’t we try it? Sure enough, we sent her the two scripts and within a week she basically said, ‘Yes,’ and didn’t let go. She committed and that was that.”
With the expansion of streaming services, the number of limited series for TV has continued to grow, which is intriguing for a producer. “I came from features,” says Roybal. “The kinds of features that I was making were very character driven. They were literary adaptations. I felt like those kinds of movies were getting squeezed out. I thought, where are those movies getting made? They were moving towards limited series. Stories where you could spend a lot more time with characters were moving towards television. That’s when I jumped to television. The limited series were the stories that I wanted to make. It was a natural transition.”
With the success of “Mare of Easttown,” Roybal calls the awards that followed “an embarrassment of riches.” He recalls the Emmys, stating, “We were just so lucky. We were so proud of them. It was so well deserved for their unbelievable performances. We were quite surprised, of course, but so happy for our whole cast. To be honest, it was such a difficult shoot, going through COVID, and having to stop and then being one of the first productions to resume, so for them to be recognized by their peers and by the academy I just felt so thrilled. It couldn’t have been a better moment. Brad and I were just jumping for joy.”
Watch the full interview above. “Mare of Easttown” is available to watch on HBO Max.