Dunst, speaking with reporters after the TCA panel, said she personally asked Skarsgård, her co-star in Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, to appear. "He's such a goofy sweet, he's a really dorky dude," Dunst added. "Everyone sees him as this really handsome, serious actor, but I feel like this is closer to what he would enjoy doing. He was so sad when he left the show."
Initially, there was a plan to keep Krystal, the true protagonist of the series, more of a background player before Travis' demise, but the creative team found that it needed her presence. "It surprised us when we got into editing how much we wanted to feel her in the first half of that show," Spalding says.
Because it is Dunst's show. In the wake of Travis' death, she learns how much of a financial hole her late husband dug for her and their infant child. Despite her keen sense that FAM and everything it stands for is is bullshit, she's forced to essentially beat the system, lest she be subsumed by it. The writers, led by Spalding, created a whole mythology for FAM -- though Spalding says there's no religious allegory. "What we kept on the board in the writers' room was a giant pyramid, which was Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, which is this idea of what human beings need in order to survive," Spalding says. "And at the top of Maslow's Hierarchy is the sense that you actualize, you become your true, strong self. Our goal for the season was to see Krystal going through that pyramid of needs and getting better and better and better off and getting to a point where she could actualize. What you hope is, oh, please, please, please Krystal, don't stay in this scheme to actualize, please step away."
As Krystal gets deeper into the world of FAM, the series grows more surreal, the offbeat tendencies of the earlier episodes morphing from the quirky to the bizarre. Not as if that DNA wasn't there from the beginning: In the second episode, Dunst, seemingly evoking her role in Drop Dead Gorgeous, does a pageant routine with a chorus line of puppets. Later, Krystal ends up teaching splashercize at the waterpark where she works. (The set full of slides and pools was built in the back of a New Orleans zoo.) And then, of course, there are the gators. At the end of the pilot, Krystal, overwhelmed, drives out to the swamp where her husband perished to go gator hunting with a shotgun.
"We were shooting with rubber gators," Spalding says. "We were shooting with gators lurking nearby. We were also knew we were going to see CGI some elements. And meanwhile, there was some kind of hurricane or thunder watch and there were lightning strikes every half an hour. So we had what seemed impossible to get all of this stuff, including Kirsten with the gun." No one ever said gator hunting was easy.