Last year, the Beat was able to catch up with the cast of ABC’s Stumptown at SDCC ’19:
This year, we may not have been able to gather together in San Diego, but the stars and executive producers of Stumptown did appear on a prerecorded video panel released on Saturday, July 25th at 4:00 P.M. Pacific Time. The panel did include spoilers for season one, so if you haven’t already, you may want to catch up with the series on Hulu before you continue.
The panel included the actors who play the three leads on the show, Cobie Smulders (Dex Parios), Jake Johnson (Grey Mcconnell), and Michael Ealy (Miles Hoffman). The panel also included executive producer, creator, writer, and co-showrunner Jason Richman, executive producer and co-showrunner Monica Breen, executive producer David Bernad, and executive producer Ruben Fleischer (plus, in addition to starring, Smulders also serves as a co-executive producer on Stumptown). Also in attendance was Greg Rucka, who wrote the comics on which the television series was based. Jim Halterman, the West Coast Bureau Chief at TV Guide, moderated the panel.
Rucka shared his feelings on seeing the world he created come to life.
“It was insane! It’s remarkable. It started the moment I read Jason’s pilot, before anything was shot,” said Rucka. “They shot the pilot in Portland, and going to the set and having Cobie be like, ‘Oh, hey, you’re here,’ and then watching them destroy a car… and that sort of set the tone for the season, in a good way.”
Rucka said that while Dex’s character was well developed on the comic page, it was a singular experience to see the supporting cast be brought to life over the course of the season.
“Watching the whole cast breathe and inflate these people, make them real… There’s nothing like it,” Rucka said. “You’re looking at me here in my office. I work here alone! These people are in my head, that’s it! Then you go and you watch an episode, and there they are, walking and talking and breaking your heart and making you laugh – yeah! There’s nothing better.”
Richman said there was a lot to fall in love with in the source material.
“The relationship between Dex and Ansel, the complicated character she is, the edge, you know, there is so much there,” said Richman. “There are certain legs that just needed a little support in the show!”
Richman said it was necessary to rearrange some of the character dynamics, but that it was important to keep in mind that the source material had already laid the foundations for the story they wanted to tell.
“It was important to sort of really not forget what you fall in love with when you do something like this, so to try and capture the feeling of the novel was very important,” Richman said.
Halterman asked Smulders what she thought about the fact that Dex’s background as a veteran of the United States military informed the character.
“It’s one of my favorite parts about this character, is a woman who has been in service and suffers a lot and struggles with PTSD,” said Smulders. “I’m glad that we saw this person at the beginning and she was suffering and she did reach out to this community. That was probably the first time in her life where she sought out somebody with a similar experience and healed herself through that.”
Rucka explained how this element of the character developed.
“I sort of cheated,” said Rucka. “Dex is meant to be the modern take on the classic PI. You know, we step up through generations. One of the tropes of the genre that started appearing in the seventies was the ex-military trope, and so I sort of took a piece from that. Both Rockford and Magnum played with that.”
The topic of Dex’s sexuality also came up during the panel.
“I’ve always viewed her as the type of person who was kind of up for anything, you know?” said Smulders. “She doesn’t discriminate, she sort of goes where the fun is. So it just feels like the character to me.”
The cast also reflected on working with Cole Sibus, who plays Ansel, Dex’s younger brother.
“Cole is not only the heart of our show, but he’s the heart of our set,” said Smulders. “He is just so joyful, and he works so hard, and he’s so lovable.”
“He’s a really talented young actor,” agreed Johnson. “And you would really feel it when you would be in scenes with him where every once in a while we’d cross cover, so you’d have a camera on him and a camera on me, and when he sits in a scene for a while, his improvs are really funny and his moments are really good. And those emotional moments that he hits – they’re not forced in the edit, they’re not stolen. He’s delivering these performances.”
There was also some discussion of what might be in store for the characters on Stumptown when the show returns for its second season.
“Well, mom,” said Breen. “Mom, who left twelve years ago comes into Dex’s life. It’s interesting when you have one trauma that you deal with, and then there’s an origin trauma that then appears in your life. It’s interesting because I think for Dex, taking care of Ansel and being the rock in Ansel’s life let her put off dealing with her feelings about the abandonment… And so mom showing up is a little bit of a ‘kaboom.’”
However, the Stumptown team demurred when Halterman asked about casting the role of Dex’s mother.
“We can’t really talk about it, because we’re really talking about it,” said Smulders. “We can’t show our hand! It’s an exciting role, it’ll be a really cool role for someone to come in and crush.”
Ealy has some very specific ideas for the future of Hoffman’s character now that the police detective has turned in his badge.
“I’ve been pressing the writers for a career on the pole,” said Ealy. “I think, for Hoffman, male stripping has always been kind of a fantasy of his. So I think, you know, you’re not gonna wear your badge – you going to take off your badge, show ‘em what you got! That works, right, Greg?”
“I think a little Mingus poll dance routine is right up your alley,” laughed Rucka.
Johnson said that one of his favorite aspects of working on the show was the high level of collaboration.
“I love being part of the discussion,” said Johnson. “I love having the writers come up and decide what they want to do, but I love being able to text ideas and get excited about something… You know, we would go up to Jason’s office quite a bit and pitch things and discuss things, and this group was very open to that.”
Johnson continued, emphasizing the commitment to working together on Stumptown.
“Cobie’s a great number one, so if there was something I wasn’t comfortable with, she and I would discuss it, and then we would all go up together and have a great talk,” said Johnson. “And what was different about this than other jobs is the changes actually came.”
The second season of Stumptown is currently in pre-production and will air on Wednesdays at 10:00 PM when it returns.
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