Tobias Menzies on Modern Love Season 2 and Rome Memories

From showrunner / executive producer John carney, the original anthology series from Amazon Modern love is inspired by New York Times column of the same name that explores all types of love and relationships. In the episode titled “Second Embrace, With Hearts and Eyes Open”, divorced parents (played by Tobias Menzies and Sophie Okonédo) of two girls rekindle their flame and embark on an adventure that begins informally, but is quickly tested when one receives a life-changing medical diagnosis.

During this one-on-one virtual interview with Collider, which you can both watch and read, Menzies spoke about what attracted him to this project, what makes Okonedo one of the best actors he has worked with and what he enjoyed working with Carney. . He also spoke about the happy memories he has from his time on the TV series. Rome, as well as why he keeps returning to the theater.

Collider: They are a couple that is easy to feel and root for. When you first read the script and learned about these characters and their story, what were the emotions you experienced with them? What touches you most about their story?

TOBIAS MENZIES: If I’m being completely honest, when you go through material and think about whether to get involved in a project, you haven’t really gone so far as to dig into the emotions and the story. It’s a little more calculated than that. You read the material to find out if it’s something you like – if you like dialogue, or if it’s a topic you have an answer to or an affinity with. So that’s the first thing that happens. I also read the article and listened to the podcast, which is also a read of the article, and felt the vibe of the New York Times article itself. This is where I started. We’re doing a dramatization, but it wasn’t fiction when it was released, so it’s the real life of this couple. It inherently attracted me to it. It was later, once we started doing this, that I started to engage in what this couple’s journey is like, the more complicated parts of that being their diagnosis and how to do justice. to that.


Image via Amazon Studios

Because a big part of it is you and Sophie Okonedo, what did you enjoy most about working with her as a stage partner? What do you think she brought to this?

MENZIES: He’s really one of the best actors I’ve worked with. She’s really genuine, very honest about things, and really insists on making it happen on camera. You can’t pretend which is really galvanizing and energizing. It’s exciting. We had a similar way of working. We were both interested in digging into the script with Kieran [Carney] and Jean [Carney], over the past week or two, and talking about possible changes or whether there were things we could cut, and they were open to that as well. On that side, I find it really useful, as a way to access material where there could be pushes and pulls and conversation around the material itself. You never really know when you’re getting into these things, but it was a pretty happy collaboration. We were all shooting in the same direction. We were interested in doing the same show and totally interested in the same things.

I am a fan of the work of John Carney. I love Sing the street and Once. How well did you know his work and what do you think makes his work special?

MENZIES: Once was definitely a movie that I had really admired. What makes her job special? Having worked with him now, I was really struck by the quality of the freewheel in his shooting style. It’s not too controlling. He really keeps it to a minimum, in terms of the feeling of being filmed. It’s a pretty light touch. He didn’t do huge amounts of takes. He really seemed to trust us as performers. He would really let things play out and not interfere too much. I think that’s part of why his work has a pretty fresh, authentic, almost improvised quality. It has a light touch that is not invasive. This especially paid off when we were working with the two little girls playing our children. He was also very good at keeping the techniques of what we were doing in the background, so that they could be quite relaxed and quite free.

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Having done shows like The iron Throne, Foreigner and The crown, you’ve been on some of the larger scale sets. What strikes you most about being a part of productions of this size and scope, especially compared to something so much smaller and more intimate, like Modern love?

MENZIES: Yeah, that’s part of what I wanted to go do Modern love. I wanted a change of pace, and it was a modern story and a very different kind of show than something like The crown. It was less overtly dramatic. I love them both, but it was lovely to go do something a little more intimate and a little smaller with a smaller team and a quicker conversation around that.

What memories do you keep of your experience on Rome, which was one of the first major large-scale television productions, before it was as big as it is now?

MENZIES: Yes, that was one of the early pioneers of many shows that followed. I have very happy memories. I was quite young. It was my first major American TV production that I had done. I remember going to talk to the showrunners about the script for that one too and being young and naïve enough that I didn’t know any better and no one told me to fuck me. They were very nice then. It’s amazing how many people continue to refer to this show, both as an important show, but also maybe as an influential show, for some of the things that followed.


Image via HBO

You are also someone who has had a long career on stage and you are an experienced stage actor. How has that influenced and affected your work, as an actor in front of the camera? Do you feel like this had an effect on your performance in front of the camera?

MENZIES: Without a doubt, yes. It’s not clear. All of these things contribute to it. But yeah, that’s definitely where basically I learned to play. This is where a good part of my first career took place. This is where I made a lot of my mistakes and cut my teeth, got it wrong and then learned how to do it right. In this sense, he is extremely formative and continues to be so. One of the cool things about theater is that you get very, very straightforward feedback, unlike the screen, where it takes months for an audience or viewers to see it. In a live theater, people’s responses are very clear. There is an immediacy to it, which means you grow pretty quickly doing this. There is no hiding place. I think it’s really good for the actors to do. It keeps you in shape. That’s certainly my feeling about it. That’s why I keep going back and keep doing it.

It’s definitely the thing that sounds exciting and terrifying, in equal measure.

MENZIES: There can be terrifying times, yes.

Modern love is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on August 13.

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