James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as the titular characters in SundanceTV’s HAP AND LEONARD
LEONARD, featuring James Purefoy (ROME,
THE FOLLOWING), Michael Kenneth Williams (THE
WIRE, BOARDWALK EMPIRE) and Christina Hendricks (MAD
MEN), will premiere Wed., Mar. 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Set in the late 1980s, HAP AND LEONARD is a darkly comic swamp noir
story of two best friends, one femme fatale, a crew of washed-up
revolutionaries, a pair of murderous psycho-killers, some lost loot
and the fuzz. Based on the novels by Joe Lansdale, the six-hour
series event follows Hap Collins (Purefoy), an East Texas white boy
with a weakness for Southern women, and Leonard Pine (Williams), a
gay, black Vietnam vet with a hot temper. When Hap’s seductive
ex-wife Trudy (Hendricks) resurfaces with a deal they can’t refuse,
a simple get-rich-quick scheme snowballs into bloody mayhem. Chock
full of eccentric characters, HAP AND LEONARD provides a country
twist on the classic mystery thriller.
VARIETY discussed the hazards of the screening with the cast.
The chemistry between the stars was evident during their panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, as they recounted their (mis)adventures during the filming in Texas.
Trouble began from the first day, when they endured a massive tornado, which turned the sky green — and then dark at 4pm. While other shows in the area shot down, their production continued filming. “I’m from England! I like a soft drizzle,” said Purefoy, who plays Hap, Hendricks’ ex-husband who can’t resist her charms. “We had men with guns on the set just in case the gators ate us.”
Purefoy said he identified with the character he was playing, given his upbringing in the west country in England. “I come from a rural background, I knew this guy,” he said. “These are the guys from my pub trying to come up with madcap, get-rich-quick schemes, who haven’t really made it in life. With Hap and Leonard, it happens when she shows up in their life again.”
Hendricks said she wasn’t specifically looking for a comedic role after her years on “Mad Men,” but insisted she’s always had a talent for comedy. “I’m hilarious, you guys,” she joked.
Christina Hendricks as Trudy
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER interviewed Christina Hendricks about her role.
When asked about her newfound affection for comedic roles while peddling her new Sundance TV series HAP AND LEONARD at the Television Critics Association winter press tour (she was seen on the small screen most recently in Comedy Central’s ANOTHER PERIOD), Hendricks explained that the pattern isn’t deliberate.
“I haven’t had a plan. I really have just been going from project to project,” she said onstage at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “[I’ll sign on] if there’s something that I read that seems really special and I feel like I can contribute in a way that helps tell the story.”
When one reporter asked Hendricks how she would avoid becoming “window dressing” in the show — implying that her Mad Men character, Joan, was such — Hendricks responded, “I hope I’ve never been window dressing.” Mickle added that her HAP AND LEONARD character defies stereotypes. “One of the fun things about the show is that it plays with pulpy noir tropes,” he said. “You think [Trudy’s] going to be the classic femme fatale … but then Christina makes her a really multilayered human being.
INDIEWIRE’s 6 Reasons Indie Filmmakers Should Care About the 2016 TCAs included mention of HAP AND LEONARD.
1. Indie Directors are Working in TV
You’ve heard plenty about how opportunities within the world of television have made it appealing to directors from the independent world, but what this year’s TCA lineup highlights is the diverse range of possibilities available. Horror director Jim Mickle will be revealing SundanceTV’s unconventional mystery thriller series “Hap and Leonard” to critics, while Susanne Bier will be on hand to discuss her John LeCarre adaptation “The Night Manager,” which will premiere on AMC later this year. Also scheduled to attend are “Nothing Left Unsaid” director Liz Garbus, Marina Zenovich for her “30 for 30” ESPN documentary “Fantastic Lies,” “The Dresser” director Richard Eyre, and Rick Famuyiwa, whose follow-up to “Dope” will be the HBO Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill drama “Confirmation.” Those are just some of the known indie names who will be coming to the press tour this year.
Also coming this March are two new collections featuring the dynamic duo:
For more info on HAP AND LEONARD, visit the Tachyon page.
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD RIDE AGAIN, visit the Tachyon page.
Covers by Elizabeth Story