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Interview With Ben Rosenfield

Willie, Doris

HBO

Eli confronts Willie about his attitude - what effect does his "pep talk" have on him?

Ben Rosenfield

The pep talk is ineffective in that Eli wants to connect with his son and make him feel better, but it's a bit too general for Willie. He's expressed a lot of conflicted feelings about college and the people he's surrounded by and all his father can say is, "Buck up, you gotta get through it. Work hard." I don't think that really answers any of the questions Willie has. His father doesn't understand him.

HBO

With his father home from prison, Willie is no longer the man of the house. Do you think that contributes to a lack of understanding between them?

Ben Rosenfield

Definitely. Willie has different feelings for his father and his uncle. With Eli, there's a sense of, "You should be treating me with respect. I took care of the family while you were in prison, but instead you just brush me off and treat me like a kid." Willie doesn't see himself as a kid. I believe Nucky really listens to Willie in a way that his father doesn't.

HBO

Why is Nucky able to treat him more like an adult than his father?

Ben Rosenfield

A big thing for Nucky is family; he's always had these mentor/father-figure relationships with younger men. It probably comes from the father he didn't have or the childhood he didn't have. Willie picks up on that and sees an opportunity to learn something from him.

HBO

Why does Willie feel like such an outsider at Temple?

Ben Rosenfield

It's sort of self-inflicted - he wants desperately to be part of that group that has the power in school, but he has a lot of anger towards them because they treat him like the lower class kid that he is. He doesn't have their money, education or travel experiences. The idea of kings comes up this season with Narcisse and Nucky - and these kids are the kings of the school.

HBO

Is that part of what Willie finds so attractive about Nucky's lifestyle?

Ben Rosenfield

Absolutely. Willie wants the respect Nucky gets, to be treated like someone whose ideas are worth listening to. Willie loves his father, no question, but I think he's scared to become what his father is, in relation to Nucky. Nucky waltzes into their house all the time with his driver and all that. Willie wants that life, to be seen in that light.

HBO

It looks like Willie and Doris leave together after Henry's accident. Is that what he wanted to get out of pranking Henry?

Ben Rosenfield

That's an interesting thing that we did there. I talked to [director] Ed Bianchi about that. At first they were leaving together which didn't feel quite right. What we were getting at was that Doris is very drunk and upset, but Willie wasn't going to go off with her - he's done with her and Henry. But then he sees she's too drunk to get home, so he takes her. I don't think it was all a plot to get her back; it was just something that happened. But as you'll see as their relationship develops, Doris doesn't solve all his problems.

Willie

HBO

When Willie discovers Henry's corpse, what's going through his head? He couldn't have imagined an outcome like this.

Ben Rosenfield

I think it's two things. Not only is it horrible for a young person to pass away and in such a gruesome, bloody and horrible way, it's: "I did this? Is this my fault? What the hell am I going to do?"

40: All In

Season 4