One major change that Jason Katims made in adapting “Dear Edward” from Ann Napolitano’s novel involved casting Connie Britton in a brand new role that really centers the show, but does not exist in the book.
Britton, who has previously collaborated with Katims for “Friday Night Lights,” portrays the charismatic and wealthy Dee Dee, who loses her husband and the family breadwinner in the crash, in the AppleTV+ show.
“I did not read the book and Dee Dee is not in the book.” Britton told TheWrap. “She comes from very humble beginnings, but then she creates this life with all her beautiful things and there’s something that is very sort of free. She has this kind of freedom to be very open-hearted and loving in a way because she has so much privilege, and so it’s sort of hard to know which came first.”
The idea for Dee Dee, whose full name is Deirdre, came about as Katims was creating a grief group made up of different family and friends of those lost in the plane crash that Edward (Colin O’Brien) miraculously survives. One character Linda (Amy Forsyth) mistakes Dee Dee as the therapist in charge of the grief counseling.
“One of the things that I wanted to do was create this community of people, this grief group ,and put it in New York City and make New York kind of a character in the show. I was starting to think of how to people that grief group and then I thought of Dee Dee,” Katims said. “There was something about her from the moment I thought of this character. I was just so charmed by her and I thought, how great to have a larger than life character — in a show that could be heavy at times and can feel very serious at times — a character that just always makes you smile and brings people together.”
“When Connie came in and did it, it just like elevated it to a million times what I could have imagined. She just dived into it in such an amazing way,” Katims added. “Every time she comes on screen, I’m just smiling because she’s so wonderful. I’m so moved by her and her story and her kind of journey over the season.”
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Dee Dee discovers that her husband Charles (Ted Koch), lost his job a while before the crash, but he didn’t tell her. Devastated, she is left to tie up loose financial threads that he left behind. She also learns that he was romantically involved with a man in Los Angeles, where he bought a condo and volunteered to support LGBTQ+ youth.
“[Dee Dee] has this whole sense of identity that’s built around her husband, and all the trappings, but as we see her lose everything she realizes, ‘Oh, I am this heartful, joyful person in the world.” Britton said.
At first Dee Dee wants to shut everything down and sell the condo, but when she learns of Charles’ charity — he let certain LGBTQ+ people he worked with stay at the condo if home life was challenging — she slowly warms up to the idea of extending her dead husband’s generosity. She also opens up to many of the members in grief group and helps Linda, who lust her partner in the crash, navigate her pregnancy.
“That spark that lives in her that is attractive to people and that charisma actually exists in her, and it’s not just [because of] all the [wealth], but she has to discover that by losing everything and being betrayed and all the rest of it. I will say that I did watch some Real Housewives of New Jersey, just to just prep.”
The first four episodes of “Dear Edward” are now streaming on AppleTV+ with new episodes out every Friday.