What went into your decisions about making Adele's style different from Paul's?
When we first started to think about her, we were thinking more about how her style should differ from Gina's. But I think the answer applies to both of them, which is that Adele, in our minds, is in some ways more of a traditional psychodynamic therapist who just plain says less and is less prone to crossing boundaries than Paul is. And though Gina had some intention of being that kind of therapist and may have been with other patients, with Paul that relationship was so complicated that the lines were blurred from the beginning. So we thought, wouldn't it be interesting to see how Paul reacted if we put him in a room with somebody who was much more remote and who he didn't get as much from?
She takes notes, whereas Paul doesn't.
We wrote that into the first episode because many psychiatrists would take notes when asking the intake questions, particularly when it has to do with medication and dosage and past history. And that was something that Amy Ryan, in conjunction with Gabriel [Byrne] and Paris [Barclay, director and EP], continued to cook up for her character. Gabriel was very interested in how it made him feel when she started scribbling in that note pad - what is she writing, why is she writing? And that was something Amy was quite expert at - finding those moments when she might take a note. And she was spare, so when she did it, it held some power. Then we ended up adding those moments in ourselves, but it really came off of the actors and director.
How much do you have to work with the actors on subtext in this show, since how a character delivers lines can hugely impact a scene?
It's a big issue. Particularly for Adele who has less text than anyone else, so the subtext becomes that much more important. Amy was great and was willing to rehearse. And Paris was excellent at talking through, moment by moment, what was going on and how much of her personal feelings are revealed to Paul, and to the audience - which is not always the same question.
Did you have to fine tune that in the edit as well? In terms of choosing takes?
Absolutely. Amy is such a subtle performer and the subtext is so subtle that literally whether she has a blank expression, or there's a slight flush, or nod, or smile is important, particularly as the tension between them increases. We had a lot of back forth about whether she should swallow in a certain moment as an indication that he is getting to her in some way.
Adele is such an intense and specific listener.
That was hard to find. We auditioned a lot of people for this part. I think it's almost harder than the speaking. My dad was sitting in on a sound mix towards the end of shooting and he said, "How does she listen like that?"
Did you make up a lot of back story about Adele's training?
We knew because of Paul's medication that she had to be a psychiatrist and have a medical degree as well. And we also thought that would be interesting for Paul, who isn't a doctor, but had a father who was a doctor - would there be some component of respect, or intimidation, or a power dynamic that shifted with her having a more advanced degree than he had? It was also very important to us that she be an intellectual match for Paul and that she contrast with Wendy, who he's feeling a bit bored and unchallenged by. So we see her degree from Columbia University Medical School on the wall, before we even meet her. We did make a switch based on Amy Ryan, who grew up in Queens. We liked the idea that maybe Adele had come from somewhat humble beginnings. Someone who was incredibly smart but didn't have the means to go to Columbia as an undergrad but had worked her way up in the world. So I think we were able to get a degree from SUNY Binghamton.