The connection between the cast members of the critically acclaimed HBO Max comedy series “Hacks” was so immediate and strong that the performers say while making the show, it often doesn’t even feel like work.
“This is such a great group to be around, especially now in this third year there’s a trust that we’re all here for the common goal,” star Carl Clemons-Hopkins (who plays Marcus) said in the latest episode of TheWrap’s How I Did It, sponsored by HBO.
Clemons-Hopkins, Hannah Einbinder, Megan Stalter, Mark Indelicato and star/co-creator Paul W. Downs sat down with TheWrap to explain how they approach making the show, which has now won four Emmys including two Best Actress in a Comedy Series trophies for series star Jean Smart.
Smart, who plays legendary comedy diva Deborah Vance in the show, was the first person cast, and Downs says she set the tone for the rest of the ensemble.
“We had Jean Smart first and she really has the embodiment of the tone we wanted,” Downs said. “Because she’s smart, funny and also can be really dramatic and heartfelt at the same time. When she said yes, it was like, ‘I think we get to do this tone because she can.’”
“Just by being so present and giving 150%, it just sets the tone for everyone to want to do the best that they can,” Indelicato, who plays Deborah’s assistant Damien, said of working with Smart. “It’s inspiring to be around someone that cares so much about what they do, because we’re so lucky to be able to do what we do.”
The vibe on set, meanwhile, is full of laughter.
“We are very high energy, joking, riffing always on set to the point where they’re like, ‘Guys, be quiet!’,” Einbinder said. She and Clemons-Hopkins became fast friends while making the first season, frequently having trailer-side chats. “We found a rhythm based in mutual respect and love,” she said.
And while “Hacks” is heavily scripted, the show also takes advantage of the improv comedy skills of its ensemble.
“Improv is always a gift once you have a security in your character, security of storytelling,” Clemons-Hopkins said. “It’s really fun and it’s really artistically freeing and it’s very rare.”
“Our love is deepening every day for one another,” Einbinder added.
Stalter summed it up thusly: “Honey, it doesn’t feel like work.”
Watch the full episode of “How I Did It” in the player above.