Did you realize that Quayle Alpha would provide so much comic relief?
Lloyd: When I got to the fifth episode, I realized, the rest of the show is so god-damned serious, someone needs to take the piss out of it! And what I kind of love about him are the little glimpses into how he doesn't really know what he's doing. Did you notice that bit with pulling the gun on Howard Silk? They used the take where I got the gun caught in the bag. That's why I love the way they edit it, the little bits that they use always have a bit of mess in it. They like the take where you're like, "Oh, fuck." They like it when the actors kind of futz around with it and find little colors. I always think they're watching all the takes very carefully. It's a lovely thing to go back for Season 2, knowing that.
The moment in the finale when he talks to Management, however, is very tricky. And he gives an answer that works for his own agenda, but also theirs as well.
Lloyd: That's a tricky one. By Episode 10, after he's crashed that car, he wakes up and realizes Claire's master-minded the murder of 11 innocent people. And yet, his father-in-law thinks he's done a wonderful job. He's going to be promoted. You get these little moments like at the end of that scene, "Well, Mr. Quayle, we want to thank you," and because he's Quayle, he can't help but smile a little bit. He's like, "That's quite nice, even if I know it's terrible." It's very difficult to know how to play a moment like this, which is so contradictory and the stakes are so high, and you're terrified, because at any moment it could all come crashing down.
It blurred into the scene with Howard Silk at the bar. I remember thinking, "I don't know how long this can go on. I've just buried the man my wife just killed in the kitchen, and now somehow I'm still alive, but I'm about to find out Aldrich is dead, so hold on a second, this is the first time in five days where I think I am going to die today." We hadn't rehearsed it like this, but that moment where Howard says, "Yeah, everyone's going to be looking for the mole now," and Quayle says, "Yeah, they made me the head of the operation," at that, we both kind of laughed! And again, they kept that take in the cut. I love that. You can't play it so serious, and so scared, and so fucked at every moment, like a little mouse. It was so fun to be like, "Bring it on." You're trapped. Everywhere you turn, you're fucked. So just hold on, I guess?
One of the things that is fun about the show is the level of attention paid to world-building. There is so much in the background that tells you which world you're in, from the architectural skyline to even the kinds of the lights used.
Lloyd: Someone just told me that recently, and I hadn't noticed that before, but you're absolutely right -- they do halogen lights on our side, and LED lights over on their side. And there lots of things coming up like that in Season 2, and hopefully three and four. Justin spoke to us in the very first meeting about an episode that is only now coming up in Season 2, and he had mentioned an idea for Season 3, which showed they were planting these seeds now. The detail is absolutely there.
One thing I learned about Justin is that he has a background in architecture, so the set design, the art design, and the details of it, those are the things that help him get into a situation. He gave us these pamphlets or "instructions" for each world, and one of them was mainly a handbook about the OI, the Office of Interchange where Peter Quayle works. And in that, I have this flowchart where it shows all the departments and how they're interlinked. Management is at the top; then Diplomacy where Roland Fancher, which is Richard Schiff's character, makes the deals with the other side; Strategy is my department; Housekeeping is hands-on spy guys that Aldrich was working. Justin had which floor each department is on, who had hierarchy over the other, and how they all link together. And then you get down into Customs, and there were instructions for the passports and how you stamp them, and information on when people travel contraband across, how they do it.
I think it works really well when you have two genres that don't go together, and you force them together. It gives you such good chemistry between the two that you've always got somewhere to go. And the idea of another double world, we have a good handle on it, because otherwise there would so many stories to tell. If the people in these worlds actually found out about each other, there would be anarchy and chaos! So to just have just this single tunnel, this crossing that they can pass through via customs, and to keep it in this spy genre, and to keep it tight, and to make sure it's exciting, it's a thriller, it's a plot that moves so that every episode isn't some kind of indulgent philosophical rant, I think that's such a clever vehicle. You still get these wonderful scenes where you do think about the philosophical aspect, and all the doors that it unlocks, but at the heart of it, it's a fucking car chase, which is such a smart combination of these two completely different genres.
Would you ever think, the person you need to get you out of a jam is your counterpart? Would you be like Howard Silk, and say, "I need my Harry Lloyd?"
Lloyd: I wouldn't trust him at all. [Laughs]