Mice, landline telephones and sex scenes — these are a few of Julia Garner, Marsha Stephanie Blake and Michael Kelly’s least favorite things.
The Emmy-nominated supporting actors from Netflix series “Ozark,” “When They See Us” and “House of Cards,” respectively, sat for a Q&A session with TheWrap at the Landmark Theater in Los Angeles Tuesday, and talked about their Emmy-nominated work — as well as some amusing stories behind their most dreaded moments on set.
“In Season 1, there’s one scene where I put a mouse in the water,” Garner, who plays Ruth on “Ozark,” said with a groan. “Ugh, God! I hate rodents, so I don’t like mice and rats. Just the tails — I didn’t know how scared I was.”
There was a “mouse-wrangler” on set, she added, who told her to think of the tails “like spaghetti,” or “like touching a phone cord.”
“I’m like, ‘This is not like a phone cord.’ I tried picking it up, and then I’m like, ‘I gotta go wash my hands.’ I was hyperventilating, it was so bad. And then they needed a hand double,” she laughed. “Every time I watch that scene I’m like, ‘Oh, wow.'”
But for Kelly, who played Doug Stamper on “House of Cards,” the absolute worst scenes to shoot are “any of my sex scenes,” he said.
“There is nothing like having to put on that thong thing and walk around the crew and stand in front of teamsters with this frickin’ nude colored thong,” he said. “It wasn’t even nice shades or colors. It was a beige thong. It just, it’s like a sock. So anytime I had to get naked, those were definitely my least favorite.”
Blake, the only one of the three who plays a real person — the late Linda McCray, mother to Anton McCray of the Central Park Five case — said her least favorite scene to film for Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” only lasted for about three seconds on screen, but took her a frustrating amount of takes to get right.
“There’s this scene when I’m laying on a bed, and I get a phone call and I have papers in front of me, but I’m laying down but I have to reach for the phone, answer the phone, and then casually sort of pretend like this is something I do all the time,” she said. “We don’t have those phones anymore. It’s attached to a cord (laughs)… It felt so awkward. Ava was like, ‘You clearly have never done any paperwork in bed while laying down.’ And I’m like, ‘Not laying down!'”
“It took forever. When I saw it on screen, I could see my discomfort. You probably couldn’t, but I definitely — even talking about it now, I feel uncomfortable. So that was my least favorite scene,” she said.
Each actor also took a moment to look back on the most emotionally taxing scenes to film. For Kelly, it was his character’s last appearance in the series, and the last time he himself would ever step foot in the “House of Cards” oval office. You can watch that clip above.
“[Doug Stamper] goes on a roller coaster ride in that scene, and I had to cry at a certain point. Gary Jay, our camera operator, was probably one of the closest people to me on set, and I’d run out of all the different things you use as an actor — all the different substitutions and ways to make you cry — and I couldn’t cry in this one take,” Kelly remembered. “I was like ‘Gary, can I give you a hug?’ and he was like ‘Come here, buddy.’ He gave me a big hug. And I was just like [pretends to cry], ‘Go!'” he joked. “I used him three or four times. All I had to do was touch him, hug him, and it would bring me to that emotional place that was easier to tap into. It was really heavy, that last day.”
Garner’s most challenging scene in “Ozark” left her feeling “like I was going to throw up,” she said.
“I just remember it like yesterday. It was the scene with Wyatt, my cousin, who’s played by Charlie Tahan, who’s an amazing actor, but I basically tell him what happens to his father,” she said. “That whole season, Ruth was going to sleep with a lie, and waking up in the morning with a lie, and she was just living with a lie and it was eating her up inside. By the time that scene hit, it just felt like word vomit. I remember genuinely feeling like I was gonna throw up, doing that scene. I was so nervous. I had knots in my stomach.”
For Blake, it was the very first scene they shot for “When They See Us” — one that immediately gave her a sense of what the real families of the Exonerated Five went through.
“I don’t know if Ava [DuVernay] did it on purpose. I mean, it got us so close as a family so quickly,” Blake said. “They had us shoot in this abandoned jail in Staten Island. Everything about it was oppressive, and all I could think of was, the real people were in these precincts for how long? And we were there for maybe 12 hours that day… at one point Ava kept checking in with us, cause she could see that Michael and I were weeping the entire time… We kept having to do it over and over again, and I was like ‘I’m fine, I’m fine,’ and she was like ‘You’re not fine.'”
“It was weird because I felt like it was a right feeling for that scene, so as an actor you kind of want to preserve the discomfort. But there is a point where you have to take care of yourself,” she said.