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‘Olive Kitteridge’ Director Talks Fisticuffs and Drinking at TCA Panel

'Olive Kitteridge' Director Talks Fisticuffs and Drinking at TCA Panel

Making an emotionally sprawling miniseries ain't easy — but it's nothing that a little boozing and brawling can't fix, director admits

Filming an ambitious adaptation of a lauded novel can be a trying experience. Creative direction can veer off-course. Creative differences can flare up.

But according to Lisa Cholodenko, director of HBO's upcoming miniseries “Olive Kitteridge” — based on Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer-winning novel — it's nothing that a little bit of sparring and booze can't overcome.

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Discussing the miniseries — which stars Frances McDormand as the title character and Richard Jenkins as her husband Henry — at the Television Critics Association at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Thursday, Cholodenko admitted that making a project of such sprawling emotional dimensions can be trying, and that cast and crew would occasionally butt heads as a result. But she also revealed that they developed a tried-and-true method of dealing with it.

Sometimes it's really funny, and then it would just shape-shift on you [and get] incredibly heartbreaking and traumatic — I kind of call this a traumedy, in a way,” Cholodenko recalled. “Sometimes there was a little fisticuffs, but Fran's very good at it, so we just went in the back of the bar, had a few rounds and then we went back to work. And I think it worked out pretty well.”

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Despite the far-ranging emotional reach of the project — which premieres in the fall — McDormand noted that, at its heart, the miniseries is an ultimately relatable tale of a complicated union.

“All you have to do is look to your left and your right. It's really the story of a marriage, and it's a very familiar one,” McDormand said.

There is one aspect of McDormand's character, however, that she can't see herself replicating.

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“I will never shoot myself in the head,” the actress said, when asked about her character's tumultuous emotional journey. “There's enough people in my life that need me enough that I won't feel like she did, that there was nothing left for her to do.”