Hello there, hello. Good morning, how are you doing? We're doing OK. I mean, trying to set up technology. I realized that if technology is like the future, I might as well just throw myself in the lake right now. Well, this is working, I can see your face, hear your voice. Yeah, Sevi. David Tennant does a podcast with Dan Levy.
I wonder, Dan, if I may call you Dan, if I may be so familiar, but I'm wondering if it's possible that we met before, because you I think I'm right in saying or an intern at the office of my London agent around the time I joined it. Correct. Early 2000s, right. Yes.
It is very likely that you heard a very nervous voice on the other end of a phone call fielding a call for you being the go between between you and your agent. Yes. Is that what you did?
You answered the phones. Yeah. Well, I started as an intern and then I guess one of the assistants went on maternity leave and I was asked to take over the role of an assistant, which at the time I didn't know how crucial assistants are to the agents. Swift promotion. It was it was a promotion that I was not even aware of at the time. And yeah, quickly, I kind of took over the desk and started fielding calls from all of, you know, my favorite British actors, because it was a pretty it's a pretty high profile office.
Got some fairly talented clients. Oh, yeah. I remember just I think it was my first day Anthony Hopkins called. And I remember thinking to myself, well, this is a strange this is a strange way to start a job. I realized very early on that I did not want to be an agent.
OK, but did you think you might I mean, is that why you were there?
No, I was there actually to I'd never left Canada before. And I had it was my third year of college and I had had a pretty bad breakup. And I thought, I need to eat, pray, love my way out of here and went to to England because I had always wanted to to live there. And so I did and managed to get a job and intern job at the agency and then found my way to an assistance desk. But it was so I mean, it's such a fascinating place to work.
Yeah. A lot of dogs roaming free, so many dogs.
Yeah. I remember at the time all the carpets had been torn up because the dogs, like I said, it pissed all over the carpets. There's a television show in there at some point. Yes.
As an intern, were you on dog duty. Was that did you have to clean up after them?
Yeah. I also at one point remember having to wrangle the dogs for a photo from what I recall was for kind of like a hound and Esquire magazine, and they needed a picture of all the dogs on a couch. So I spent a good portion of the afternoon wrangling. I think it was like five dogs to put on a couch and take a picture. And then by the time I got to taking the picture, I looked over and half the office was at the door laughing at me.
Sure. Because I guess the whole thing was just so absurd. And they're like this poor, poor intern.
How long were you there for? I was there for about five months. OK, and then the and then the the terrorist attack happened.
Oh, of course this happened. And I, my mom called and said, I think it's time to come home. It was it was an intense time to be there. So what age were you. I think I was nineteen. OK, nineteen twenty eighteen. Nineteen twenty.
So when you're wrangling dogs on a couch and deciding you don't want to be an agent at nineteen in London, what is it you are wanting to do with your life? What are you thinking. You know, where are you headed.
Well I mean I think like everything I've done, it's all been based in and around entertainment. But I think it took me a really long time to gain the confidence to actually just go for what I wanted to do, which I think was was at first acting. And then and then writing. You know, I never went to theater school. I went to film school because I was too scared to audition for the theater program. I've always kind of been adjacent to what I wanted to do, but never actually kind of went for it head on.
And it wasn't until actually, funnily enough, I got home from England, which in and of itself, aside from just wanting to get away from Canada, was for me kind of a big moment of growth because I had lost myself a bit. So part of the journey of going there was really forcing myself to step outside of my comfort zone and like really push myself to do things that I would never normally do because I knew that if I didn't, I would never have I would never be able to have the confidence or the comfort socially to actually pursue what I wanted to pursue, which was a career in entertainment.
So part of working at that agency and answering those phones as as funny as it was and as hard as it was, was also really transformative for me in terms of just, you know, physically forcing myself to be social, which was something that I had never done before. So, yeah, it took a minute. And then when I got home from from England, I auditioned for MTV. There was an MTV Canada launched and I auditioned to be a kind of a host or VJ on that network, which I would never have had the confidence to do prior to that.
Right. And ended up getting the job and. That kind of kicked off my life in front of the camera, and you grew up thinking then that you wanted to perform somehow? Well, yeah, I'd always performed. You had, right? I'd always. Yeah. I mean, you know, in high school, we didn't really have a drama department because our teachers were constantly going on on strike and and without a drama department, you didn't have school plays.
So my friends and I in high school would would put on all the school plays ourselves and we'd write them and direct them and produce them and act in them and get them financed and do all those things that needed to be done in order to to have a kind of arts program. I loved it. It was the greatest time and and something that I had been questing after, I think when high school ended and everyone of my friends kind of went into theater programs, I just for some reason couldn't muster the courage to put a monologue together and actually walk into an audition room to to become a theater student.
So that's where things kind of, I think, fell off for me.
But like anything, if you want it bad enough, eventually, eventually you kind of work towards getting it, I think, because obviously you grew up your dad is a very well-known actor.
Your mom's a screenwriter. So how kind of how Schubas was your childhood? It wasn't actually that.
I mean, I think as as well known, I think as my dad is, he really was very conscious of the fact that he didn't want us to grow up in entertainment. So he we were raised in Toronto, my whole family. And that was a sacrifice that he made because I think not being in Los Angeles, not being based in Los Angeles, when you're you know, when your career is is based, there is is certainly going to cost you work.
This was long before we could put ourselves on tape over the Internet and send it along. But that was important for him, that we have an upbringing that that is not kind of steeped in in Hollywood.
Is that because he he he knew L.A. and he knew how fucked up it can be that he thought? I think the kids through that. OK, I think so. It's a scene. And I think he just didn't want that to be, you know, something that my my sister and I, you know, grew up in. Yeah. And I'm so grateful for that because I don't want to have been raised somehow. Yes. I really loved being raised in Toronto and going to my, you know, just going through life, not being tied to to the industry.
And how did you feel about your dad being on screen? Did that make you like a celebrity at school? I'm presuming you weren't at school with other Hollywood actors. Children?
No, no. Occasionally, you know, you would run into someone who's whose parent was was part of the Canadian entertainment industry or music industry or something. It was it was actually quite hard for me because growing up, I didn't like a lot of attention. And anywhere we went with my dad, particularly in Canada, because his show, CTV, was such a part of the Canadian sort of the tapestry of Canadian culture. He was a big star.
It was such a formative show for four Canadians that anywhere we went, obviously eyes would fall on him and attention would kind of fall on us. And I was so uncomfortable by it that I think for a long time I. I like pushed it away and I try and, you know, I'd be walking a few steps ahead and it wasn't until I think I was in my, like late 20s that my dad and I ended up having this conversation where I had to clarify, because I think for a long time he had interpreted my wanting to distance myself physically from him as as as a kind of tension between us, when in actuality it was really just me trying to avoid people's glares.
So did you get angry with your dad? Did it did it annoy you that he was now? It was just I just wanted to I just didn't want to be. I just didn't want people staring at us. I didn't want people kind of, you know, coming up to our tables at dinner. I mean, you know, I would only imagine that you get that that a lot all the time. It's a strangely kind of invasive thing. And at the same time, I think when you sign up for something that is for a job that is so public, there is that conversation that's like, well, you asked for it.
Yeah. And to which I would say, yeah. I mean, you do you do welcome attention, I suppose, by putting yourself out there in the in the arts like that. But at the same time, I do think that decency is decency. And if someone is coming up to you and saying, like, I'm so sorry, this is probably so rude, it's like if you're aware of how rude it is to interrupt a family eating dinner, then that's not a right that you have.
That is just you being rude.
So you know what I mean.
Yeah, I don't exactly know exactly what you mean, but do you think the fact that you are now you are now the person that people come up to when they see in restaurants and do all that, you know, you're now being approached on your own terms, aren't you? But do you think the way you react to that now is influenced by. Don, the child sort of seeing that happening and having it done to him. Oh, yeah, I don't like it.
I do. I don't like it at all. And I don't know really what to say about that, because on the one hand, you know, I think it's hard for people to believe that that, you know, people get into this industry without, you know, having fame be the job they want. I don't want to be famous. I really enjoy acting and I really enjoy creating television. Fame is not a career, I don't think.
And it's certainly not something that I, you know, quested after. And I think even just looking at the scope of our show are, you know, Schitt's Creek is such a tiny show that my intention in making it was never that it become, you know, that we become famous through it, but rather just like that that anyone would ever like it. Exactly. It's like, you know, it's a shoestring budget. We shoot it up in Canada.
We had a great time. And, you know, for us, it was really about if we can go to sleep at night knowing that we're making a show that makes us happy, that's all we really care about. Yeah. And in the process, I think, you know, people sort of started to to watch it. The great thing about working in Canada, I don't know what it's like in the U.K., but I would imagine it's something similar is, you know, when you're not a part of the huge U.S. entertainment beast, you have the freedom to create things and have opportunities that you wouldn't normally have in America.
And by that, I mean, you know, I was able to write and produce and act. And, you know, when it came to Schitt's Creek, I loved the costume design and I loved the production design. And I was very involved in all of those areas. And I think there's a freedom in working on the fringe. And by fringe, I mean just, you know, in an industry that is not the epicenter, because in even having conversations in the the the United States about, you know, what I what I did on our show and how I was so active in all different facets of getting the show made.
I mean, people seemed generally stunned because there are just hundreds of people employed to do those jobs. And very infrequently it is to someone who is kind of running the show, have that kind of intimacy with each and every department. But I think it's been great to to have that. Is that I mean, is that a similar thing in in the U.K., do you think, where you you know, there's there's a certain level of freedom just generally?
I think it depends. There are different studios, different channels, different ways of working. And I think the the world is getting smaller in that sense.
I think, you know, there's rare it's rare that there's a British production now that doesn't have some American money, which does mean, I suppose, that there's there is perhaps more scrutiny than.
But I know what you mean because I think the US there's. There's a lot of people on there, there's a lot of people on a set in the US, and that's certainly not true in the U.K. and I suspect that's more similar to Canada. Crews are just a bit smaller, a bit more. Flexible, perhaps. Yeah, I mean, I remember talking to our costume designer, I think it was our first year of doing our show, and I would I for all six seasons of the show, I sat in from for all of Kathryn and and Annie and my sort of wardrobe fittings and made sure that that everything was that I was, you know, there for every look that we put together in and able to make the decision right there in the room.
And, you know, our costume designer, Debra Hanson, told me at one point that that she was working on an American production where she had to run the color of a tie, passed at least six different people right before it was approved. Right. And that was so kind of Eye-Opening just to the the tears that exist in certain kinds. And I'm so grateful that we did not have that.
Because you started writing sketches on MTV, is that what you developed, began to develop those kind of skills? I don't really even know.
I mean, I think it really went out to L.A. for a bit when I quit my job at MTV. And even when I left my job and I didn't know where I was going to go next, I really didn't know whether I was ever going to find that thing that made me feel completely fulfilled, you know, professionally speaking. And I didn't even know what I was going to do. All I knew was that when I left, having had some relative success in Canada, the biggest choice that I made when I left was to just not let the ego of at all the perks, the fact that people kind of know who you are, the fact that you can get a reservation at a restaurant, affect what I was going to do next, because I felt like if I was going to hold on to the ego side of the job, I would be in trouble.
And I think in doing that, part of what I did was sit down and start to think of how would I perform again? And if it wasn't going to be hosting a television show, what was it going to be? And I've you know, I always wanted to act. And, you know, I think when you're out of the industry for for in my case, it was eight years as a as a television host and I wasn't able to audition for four acting roles.
When you've had eight years away and you try and walk into an audition room and impress Mom. Yeah. It's it's not going to go well. And so, you know, is it rough or very. Oh, terrible. And the worst auditioner in the in the world. That's really where I get so nervous and my nerves often affect my ability to memorize lines. That was why I couldn't audition. I mean, I would screw up the lines and then, you know, if the casting director was nice, they'd tell me to step outside and take a breath and come back in and tells you to step outside and take a breath.
You didn't get the job. You could really step outside and keep going. You step outside and don't come back. Yeah. So I just you know, for me it was about writing something for myself that might showcase, you know what, I think I can contribute as an actor.
And so there was expediency. You just thought I can't get the parts the traditional way. I'm going to have to write something and put myself.
I was like, if I got the job, I think I'd be OK. OK, it's getting the job. But the problem. Yeah, because, you know, I mean, auditioning is its own story and it's like it is its own skill set and not necessarily the same skill set that a good actor has in the box.
No, because it requires the ability to combat your own nerves and anxiety and walk into a room and perform for strangers. Yeah. Terrible, terrible at it. Yeah, no, you're on the other side of the table, as it were. No, you're auditioning actors. Are you hypersensitive to that?
So sensitive. Yeah, I'll give you I mean, I'll take up way more time. Our casting director, when we first started seeing people for Schitt's Creek was like these sessions are eight hours long and they should be four. And I was like, well, there's something in each person that walked in here and I will mine that performance done, though.
Is that or do you know the minute they walk in the door, you I mean, listen, sometimes, you know, instantly and then but I will always give someone a second chance because I know the feeling of walking in, doing it once and having someone to say thank you so much.
Yeah. So Schitt's Creek is not the first time you worked with your dad. Yeah, right. And did you take the idea of working together to him?
I did actually. And for the longest time I had even when I was acting in the school plays in high school, I would he would always ask if I wanted his help and I would always say no. I think because I was always so scared of people knowing that I was his kid and the comparisons. And I think, you know, just generally it's an impulse and a lot of people to kind of excuse the children of of actors as being kind of write offs or having gotten there because their parents somehow had just paved the way.
Some you know, in a way, the reality is that's not it at all. There's far too much money involved and far too many people involved for one single actor to just say, make my kid a star. Yes. Yes. You know, the idea of nepotism in Hollywood, I mean, nepotism will get you so far, but you actually have to bring something to the table. Yeah. If you want to succeed, you know. So I think when when the show came and I was I had done eight years on television in Canada and I had gained a sense of confidence that I had never had before.
I did go to him because I felt like his sensibility, his comedic sensibility, lent itself so perfectly to this idea that I had been kind of thinking about.
And of course, he is a writer, too. Yeah, he had he had written all the I guess, the the outlines for all of the Christopher Guest movies they had done together. And he just has, I think in everything that he does, he's always reworked the parts that he gets. And, you know, even in American Pie, that his character was written completely antithetical to what it turned out to be. You know, just his ability to find the heart in every character that he did was such and such a lovely and impressive skill that he has.
And I wanted that kind of warmth and I wanted that kind of heart in this in this show. And so I brought it to him and we sat down, you know, in my parents house and on a Sunday and just started talking about it. And two weekends passed and and we had a pretty solid idea for a show.
The idea was always that you would both be in it and you would both. Yeah, right.
Which for him was a huge, huge risk to take. Right. Considering yet he hadn't seen me sort of act since high school. And, you know, I don't know what he saw then, but yeah, it was a big risk.
What do you think he was just excited to work with his son or do you think did he go on? He's got something. Yeah, I think he was really excited to collaborate, you know, if nothing more than just the experience of of doing something creative with with your son, I think was a really exciting thing. And I truly believe that when he's know sat down and said yes, he had absolutely no expectation that we would be doing anything beyond just chatting.
It's an interesting move shifter, isn't it, from being a father son to being colleagues working on something together. Did that did that did that take a bit of wrestling to find how that worked, how you were sort of corporate world?
Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, I think on his part, justifiably so, there was a lot of fear about whether this was actually going to work. And I think once Catherine came on board as well, you know, a friend of his and a colleague and someone that he trusts and admires. And suddenly, you know, I'm in a kind of power position. And not only am I having to act opposite, you know, her and you know my dad, I'm also in a situation where I have to write for for the health and to be in a kind of authoritative producer, unreal situation as well.
So I think for the first year, my my my dad was very aware of that and wanted to make it as easy as possible. I mean, he always says that it wasn't until kind of the night before our first day of shooting that he realized just how big of a mistake this could be.
If it if it didn't work out well, if suddenly it was just, you know, if I bombed as an actor and he had to excuse just a terrible performance to to Catherine, who likely would have panicked and fled. Did he ever play the dad card?
And come on, Daniel, this is how it is. This is how you make a comedy show. He never pulled the dad card because he is. The kindest, most gentle, loving person, and I think for someone who could have pulled the dad card a million times to have not is so telling of his character, even when things got heated in terms of arguments and discrepancies, in terms of what each of us thought character should be saying or doing, or it all came down to the show.
You know, it was never personal. It was always just a quest for trying to find what the best solution for a certain problem was for the show. And ultimately, the idea that got selected was the one that better served the show.
So there wasn't there's not one of you who's who's more ready to concede ground. You're both pretty good at knowing. I don't I'm bad at knowing when to bite my tongue, right? Yeah, right. Yeah, because I think at the time, like, you know, looking back on it, I had been in the writers room with all the writers and I kind of knew back story on the characters that he didn't know. So I came in like, you know, like a bat out of hell saying, no, we need it to be like this and we needed to do this and we needed to be like this.
He made one single suggestion and suddenly it unraveled my entire argument and we ended up going with his idea. There you go. But, you know, I was always kind of I think because I wore so many hats on the show, I was always kind of I was the one on edge all the time. And he was kind of the calm voice of reason.
So you develop the show together, but then you're the showrunner. So you're you're that exec producer with whom the buck stops.
Was that always the intention? I think so, yeah, I mean, it was it was you know, he was there to sort of help get the idea off the ground in the first season. He was in the writers room with us and really kind of helping to spearhead and guide, I guess, my first year of doing that. I had no experience in a writer's room. I had no experience writing television. I had no experience really as an actor.
So it was for me that first season of our show was such a learning curve, a steep learning curve.
That's a levels that's a lot of big jobs to not have done before. Most to suddenly be doing them all at once. Completely overwhelming. Yeah, yeah, exactly. But I think in a way, doing it all at once lessened the anxiety of having it be one thing, because for me it's like even our first day of acting when we when we started shooting, I had been writing up until two o'clock in the morning before five a.m. pick up to go and start shooting.
So I didn't actually allow myself any time to get nervous about what I was going to do as an actor. And then when I was acting, I was, you know, all the anxieties about writing were kind of put in the backburner. So I was in a way like juggling all of those jobs helped stabilize all of them. Yeah.
Presumably when you're shooting, you have no other life. You have zero downtime. No. Oh, gosh, no. Yeah, no, nothing, and even when you're not shooting, I mean, even in the in the few months that we had off, I was starting to think about the next season. And, you know, it was unrelenting in the sense that your job was never done. It really never stopped until the show stopped. I mean, my job really never stopped until the last episode of our series aired a few months ago.
And it was very disorienting. Sure. I've just been been accustomed to to always thinking about it. Yeah.
When did you decide to include your sister Sarah in the show?
Well, she had I mean, she had gone to theatre school when I opted not to. So she actually did a proper I did the work and she's a she's a proper actor and had been working as an actor before I had been. And, you know, the part was written for her and she just took it and ran with it.
And that obviously that's quite a family dynamic on the on the set. Are you are you all OK with that? Is that also your family relationships? Are you.
Yeah. I mean, no, I mean, I think it's it's it was other than my dad kind of being just a little too eager at times. A little too eager. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Other cast members would sort of describe him watching the monitor as well. You know, myself or my sister were acting and kind of mouthing the line.
He was like some kind of stage parent or like dance mom or something. And, you know, at times, I mean, he just likes to be a part of it. And in the times where I, you know, I had to be kind of in the intimate moments with my boyfriend on the show, I did often sort of ask the P.A. like, can you just make sure my dad you don't he doesn't need to watch me because my boyfriend a hundred times today, you can go off and do something else.
You know, it's been a wonderful family dynamic. And I think, you know, even my mom played such a crucial role in the in the funding of the show and putting the show together from a technical standpoint. And it's it's it's certainly, I think, getting to work with your family in that capacity and particularly as actors to get six years of your life kind of documented on film is such a rare and wonderful gift that we're all so grateful for.
So for me, it's all about how do I how do I get them back in whatever I do next?
Yeah, it's success grew very gradually, didn't it, as it slowly found its way around the world. Probably probably on Netflix and.
Yeah, and it's and it's not generally how a TV show works. No. Usually you're not afforded this kind of slow burn. But I do think it's a wonderful testament to the fact that, you know, TV shows, particularly smaller ones really need to breathe and that the, you know, the culture of just canceling TV because it's it's not, you know, bringing in huge, huge, huge numbers, which, you know, I understand from a business standpoint, you know, I think the fact that our show has grown in the way that it has to really be kind of recognized, you know, I guess at this point as as a show that sits on the same shelf as some of the larger, more expensive American and British television shows, it speaks volumes for for the team and for the fact that, you know, TV shows need some time.
And, you know, when when we we didn't get on Netflix until our third season and then when we did that really cracked open this whole new world of viewership, because up until recently, if you weren't in Canada and you weren't a subscriber to Pop TV, which is a very small network, you would never have seen it.
And it does feel like the characters really sort of blossom as we get to know them. I'm much of that was I mean, obviously you and your dad, your pitch perfect throughout. And then you've got Catherine O'Hara and Annie Murphy as your mother and your sister. And there were you finding as a writer that you were responding to then that those characters were sort of growing. You would take what they brought, you would give them something back, was a sort of evolving thing, or did they just take it and run with it and.
No, no, no.
I think even, you know, before we started working, you know, I had sat down with Catherine multiple times, just discuss everything from how she wanted her character to speak to how she wanted the character to be dress to, you know, everything in between. And, you know, she brings so much to the table just in terms of laying the groundwork for her character before we even begin. And then it was really just running with what people had to offer and what people brought to the characters.
And I made sure before we even started the show that I sat down with with most of our actors and just, you know, walked through the pilot episode with them, ask them if there was anything that their character said that they didn't feel was in line with what they want their character to be and really kind of personalize the experience from the beginning so that when they walked on set, they were as comfortable with that character as they possibly could be.
So that was really important. And I think just inherently the structure of the show was about a group of people who have no idea who they are and the. All was that, you know, the more seasons that we got, the more we were able to peel back the layers and expose these people for who they really were and and, you know, and have them have their eyes open to the fact that money doesn't solve problems and money doesn't bring happiness.
I mean, it's not a novel idea, but was something that was it was really fun to explore. Unfortunately, we were given that kind of runway to tell these stories in a comedy.
But even like the sort of the ticks of the characters seemed to come from a very truthful place, like the way ad is not my wife summons me.
That is because, I mean, you know, that becomes it becomes becomes it'll haunt me for the rest of my life.
Sure. It becomes almost a catchphrase.
And yet it never feels untruthful, I suppose. Was that something like the way the way Morris has become?
You know, again now, that's how we say that word in our house. Yeah.
And I suppose these things only really work if they're not too self-conscious, if they arise out of the truth of the characters. Is that fair?
Yeah. And I think we always made sure that there was a level of freedom in in performance that if people wanted to try things or say different things, we would we would certainly entertain them, because that's where I think the real DNA of what the actor brings to the table comes in. And for us, it was about I would say it was about like 70, 30. Seventy five. Twenty five. In terms of scripted versus improvised, we always tried to leave some room for improvisation.
So there was stuff that would happen just on the floor in between takes. Oh yeah. And you know, we do a rehearsal and work things out in a rehearsal before we even shot. OK, so, you know, but again, I think when actors feel comfortable, when you're not in a toxic environment where you're fearful of contributing something, you really get the best out of everybody.
So it does take off round the world. You do six seasons, but even before you start the sixth season, it's very clear that's going to be the last one. So what's the thought process?
How do you get to the point of going? I know we walk away.
Well, I you know, I had carefully kind of laid out the majority of the seasons in advance. I knew where I wanted them to go. And I saw the show kind of has chapters in a book. And I knew that by sea by season three that we were relatively halfway through the book. And I originally was was going to end the show and after season five and then we were given the option to have two seasons, five and six.
And I think knowing that we had those two seasons locked in, really allowed for a really thoughtful approach to hopefully to winding things down in a way that felt really motivated. And, you know, I'm a big fan of, you know, shows that that leave a great lasting taste in your mouth.
I think, you know, in America, I think what England has done so well is just really I mean, you guys do like till we run away, if it's successful, we don't we dump it like a cool and run away screaming from it is, you know, so but there's something really amazing about that.
I mean, I think it speaks to the quality and it speaks to the care that's put into the shows. So for us, it was really just about wanting the legacy of the show to be something joyful for people and for them to to love it as much when it ended as they did when it started, if not even more. And so we really kind of built to that conclusion and and tried to lay the groundwork slowly and carefully so that by the time we we wrapped up our last episode, it felt it felt easy because we we were allowed that time.
I think so many television shows don't get that kind of head's up. So they have to either, you know, if they find out that their show is going away, they have to wrap up a million stories and yeah, you know, in six episodes or whatever. So, you know, we we really took advantage of the fact that we knew, you know, that we had 28 episodes to wind things down.
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I interviewed Tina Fey for this podcast and of course she was showrunner and star of 30 Rock very successfully. And she did say that wonderful experience, though that was she would never do that again. She was not looking to cast herself as the lead in her own show ever again. Is that would you go there again?
I'm taking that as a yes. Yeah. Oh, yeah. OK, yeah. I mean, I really enjoyed it. It was the hardest it was the hardest six years of my life. It was I've never had less sleep. I've never had higher anxiety. I was having to see, you know, a misuse because I was getting tension headaches, because my my shoulders just turned to to kind of just hard blocks and just tension muscle. But I wouldn't trade it for the world.
And I think, you know, to to be receiving the letters from people that we've we've been receiving to know that the show has has brought kind of laughter and joy into people's homes and and in some cases has really changed family dynamics and personal dynamics when it comes to sexuality.
I mean, you know, those are things that you never intended that I wouldn't want to talk to about that, because that is one of the very refreshing and delightful aspects of Schitt's Creek that exists in this world, beautifully devoid of bigotry. And you've been very rightly praised for presenting a very positive, progressive world where where love is celebrated no matter what, and indeed gay characters within that are not being persecuted or made fun of or finding it difficult to be themselves.
Was that were you aware that that was a particular worldview you wanted to present from the oil for? Did it just seem that it present itself to you as you started writing?
It originally started just with the idea that we didn't want the town of Schitt's Creek to be the butt of the joke. I think so often small towns are caricatured and poked fun at and ridiculed. It was that it was important that the small town in this show be way more together than the family that was coming to stay in it and that our family be the joke and not the town itself. And I think in exploring what that meant, we very quickly realized, oh, well, we have an opportunity to actually use this town as an example of how healthy and constructive it would be if there was no bigotry in it.
And so slowly we realized, OK, well, what if there was no homophobia? What if we just never told that side of the story? And I think in doing so, it affected a huge kind of ripple effect, you know, affect in people's homes. And I think by presenting a kinder world than the one that we're living in and the show kind of existing at the time when the government shifted in America, you could sense the fact that people were turning to the show and for different reasons before it was just like, oh, this is a funny show.
And now people are turning to it because what they have outside their doorstep is scarier than what we were presenting, you know, on our on our television show. And I think people really kind of clung to the philosophy that we will all be better people if if we just accept each other for who we are and love each other unconditionally. So that was really kind of from a from very early days, the mandate. And I think by abiding by that philosophy, it it only strengthened all of the storytelling with all of our characters, particularly the queer characters on the show, because you really got to tell stories that I had never really seen before, because so often when you tell queer stories on television, you know, you have to show bigotry or you have to show the tension against it.
And, you know, as a gay person who rarely saw gay characters have happy endings, it was so crucial to me that my character have a happy ending and find love. And it doesn't end in tragedy or death because that's kind of what we have become conditioned to expect. Yeah, we watch gay characters on television. Sure. I'm presuming because maybe I'm overconsuming, but because you came from a showbiz household coming out wasn't a difficult thing for you yourself.
No, I mean, it was difficult in the sense that I think you overthink things and you don't I mean. For me, so much of my own experience, I kind of in a way like wrote in to the coming out episode of the show, which is this irrational fear that you have where you know you know that your parents are going to be fine with it. But what if it changes things? What if it's something different? That was that was certainly how I felt, even though I knew my parents would be completely OK with it.
It's such a strange experience. And I think it's it's such an isolating experience because straight people don't ever have to proclaim to their family who they're attracted to. It's such an awkward thing to to say to your family. Yeah. You know, because that's ultimately what you're being asked to do is to to say I am attracted to this person. And as a teenager, I mean, I think you're so uncomfortable just generally with the idea of of sex, you know, conversations with your family.
You got to do it just as a teenager. You just generally. Yeah. You know, so it is such an unnatural thing. And I do hope that at some point we we don't have to have people come out of the closet, that it just you know, people can live their lives without having to proclaim who they are, who they love. But, yeah, it was it was yeah.
It was relatively easy for me as someone who is openly gay, do you then feel that people have an expectation that you will tell gay stories? And is that is that OK or is that limiting?
No, it's not limiting because I think I'll always have gay characters and whatever I do, I think the great thing about the show and what I've always wanted to do is just. Be as inclusive as I possibly can, include characters that represent my life in a way that doesn't feel like there has to be a lesson learned, and I think the casual nature of of just including people is what we need more of. Just generally, I think in television, without having to, you know, make that the gay characters, the butt of the joke or the punch line, I think it's just showing people who they are.
That's what that's that's sort of life. And I think as a result, I will always have queer characters in whatever I continue to to write just because that's it's important for me and it's such a necessary conversation to have.
I think that that very casualness that you talk about is what's so joyous is people need to see themselves reflected on television screens.
And I think we're realizing more and more that there are so many people who have not seen themselves on television. Yeah, yeah.
And the response you've had to that has been. Huge, hasn't it? I mean, so many people have reached out to you and to celebrate that very fact and been so touched by the fact that that it's not an issue.
Yeah, I mean, you know, I didn't we certainly didn't intend for that to be as meaningful as it has been for people. But I think you just realize that it goes to show just how rare those kinds of of storylines are.
Did that take you by surprise? That it did? I did, because I think, you know, I was just sort of writing something that I hoped would reflect my, you know, my life in ways that I hadn't seen before. And I had no one and no idea that would kind of have the effect it had not just on the queer people, but on their parents, on their friends. It's been it's been quite remarkable. And also, you know you know, people are describing the show is as kind of groundbreaking.
And I always say, like, it's a it's a strange compliment because it shouldn't be groundbreaking at this point. You know, it's 20, 20 of these kinds of stories should exist all over the place. But I guess to be a part of of this new kind of wave of television that feels inclusive, I it's a wonderful it's a wonderful time to be making television.
Having conquered the world of sitcom in Canada, you've now got a development deal on ABC, The World that you were saying, you know, the where where the ratings are analyzed, where every everything you do is it's on a different scale. Right. Are you looking forward to that? Is that an exciting place to be?
Yeah, it's been great. It's been I mean, it's been I went there because the team was so supportive of what I was doing. And, you know, I think the key to anything is just surrounding yourself with the team of people that get what you're doing and want to just help you continue to grow. And that's what I'm doing. And, you know, there's there's a lot we're developing a lot. I mean, it's exciting. It's an exciting kind of new world.
And, you know, there's been a lot of things that I had been kind of jotting down while I was doing Schitt's Creek. And I think because I chose to see that all the way through from start to finish, you know, it didn't allow for any space to develop anything else. So so now I kind of opened up the journals that I had been keeping and really started to to look at the ideas that I had had while I was working on Schitt's Creek.
And and some of them were were were properly developing at this point. And some some other ideas just came to me, you know, in the past few months. So it's a whole new world and it's really it's it's really exciting. And I you know, I think the fact that people seem to like the show has afforded a level of opportunity that I had never seen coming. And yeah. So I'm you know, I'm I'm excited to sort of get a few things off the ground in the next in the next year or so and and hopefully work with you.
Oh, if you please, if you'd be willing.
Danielle, you don't have to ask twice. OK, great. You've said you've already said too much. I'll be outside the door waiting for a script and I would love nothing more.
Having had that massive success. Does that does that feel like then the pressure to do something is is is greater or does or actually does it work as a confidence to feel like you're allowed in the room?
No, I think it's a bit of both. And I think, you know, it's interesting, I go back to that same kind of idea that I had when I had left MTV. I think any time you walk away from something where you had had some success, it's important to just not ever feel like you have to be defined by what you've done. That's been the biggest lesson for me is like not having this show define what I'm going to do in the future.
I'm so proud of it. I will love it till the day I die. And if this is the one great thing that I've ever put out into the world, then that's a wonderful thing for me. It's really about looking forward, not backward, and hopefully trying my best to curb my own sense of expectation, whether, you know, whether I can continue to tell stories that that means something to me and hopefully to other people. And, you know, I think, you know, hopefully we can keep up that same level of quality.
But, you know, you can either work or it's not.
There's such a joy to what you do. And I, for one, cannot wait to see what the next thing might be, wherever it might be. And whether I'm in it or not, it will be better if I am in it. But, Dan, thank you so much.
Thank you. Next time we got married in the theater after the matinee, all the audience left, we got married on the stage. He was a witness.
Hugh Jackman, nicest man of show business. Was the witness at your wedding. How lovely.
Yeah, he even he didn't sign it with a pen. What he did was he has a Wolverine claw that's got three pens on it. They took these signatures with Annie. And I'm joking.
I tell you. Where is that going?
David Tennant does a podcast with Is A Something Else and No Mystery production produced by Zooey Edwardson, additional production from Harriet Wells, Sarah CamNet, Steve Akerman and George Tenet.
The sound engineer was Josh Gibbs, the executive producer is Christina.