Thrillist: Before we begin, I need to ask you about "boar on the floor." What was filming that like?
J. Smith-Cameron: That was a wild episode. When we were shooting that, those of us who weren't being hazed were, like, horrified but laughing at the actors, David Rasche, Matthew Macfadyen, and Nick Braun. It was so awful. It's like Lord of the Flies humor. You're laughing at the actors being funny and then they would cut and you just feel flooded with shame. It's so awful. I remember when we cut that night, going past [writer] Tony Roche and [saying], "Thanks a lot, we're all going to hell now because of all the things you made us think and feel. We all have blood on our hands just because, if nothing else, we laughed." As actors, we enjoyed it.
Gerri was originally a small part meant for a man. Can you talk about how the character has developed since you took on the role?
Smith-Cameron: Gerri's really knit into the fabric of Waystar and is really indispensable, but she's really different from the other main characters because she will never have that entitlement that the name gets her. She always has to sing for her supper. She's there by merit, by her wits. She straddles the world of the family, but she doesn't have that carte blanche that they all have, that entitlement. Gerri still has to be burning the midnight oil, figuring out an angle and staying in there. She's somehow different than Frank and Karl and Cyd Peach. She's somehow worked into the fabric of their relationships as well. It's very unique. It's really interesting. You feel it even on set, the dynamic between actors. I'm just always, very carefully finding my way through it, and emailing the writers, [creator] Jesse [Armstrong] in particular, all the time. They are absolutely great collaborators. That's one thing about the show that's really delightful and unusual. They really want to know what bumps for you. When something doesn't feel right, they'll either try to explain it or rewrite it slightly. They are really interested in your reactions and what you are going to bring to it. They observe you. They observe the little in-jokes that are happening around the cast. We go on location a lot, and you can tell they try to pick up on the dynamic. We improv a lot. They will keep the cameras rolling after we finish a scene. Or we'll do a take where they are like, Mess it up now, put that in your own words. Even if they don't use that material, it goes into the communal hopper for everyone. Even if you don't see what happened, it somehow informs everything going forward and that's fascinating. It's just really fun.
What was your reaction when you found out about the turn Gerri and Roman's relationship takes?
Smith-Cameron: My jaw dropped. I was like, "What?" But I thought, I don't know, I sort of believed it of Kieran's character. I bought it, but it was still shocking. I feel like that's Gerri's reaction too -- she doesn't quite know what to think. She's half bemused and half kind of like, Oh, this gives me an edge. It's more than that. I think the main thing is she doesn't really know what to make of it. But underneath all that, there's a real bona fide rapport that starts in the Hungary episode. Like a confidant relationship, or a camaraderie, or some kind of connection that they have. I guess in that hostile world of the dog-eat-dog Roys, maybe if that incubates something like that, it might take a lot of strange twists and turns. I've always embraced it because it seemed like such a wonderful storyline. I think it's so unique. I've never seen anything like that. I don't think it knows what it is either. It's unfolding very moment to moment.