Thomas Haden Church on Robert’s Path to Moving On From Divorce
By Marissa Blanchard
HBO: Meeting Jackie has a big impact on Robert — personally and professionally. What makes them such a good match?
Thomas Haden Church: She’s on her own, and even though we never get to into a lot of Jackie’s backstory, we get a sense that she’s gone through a difficult breakup. We alluded a bit here and there that it may have been a professional relationship that broke up. As much of a go-getter she is, you get a sense that as successful as she seems, she is vulnerable.
Jackie is a firestarter — she is like, “What do we have to do to get your life back in order?” She sees working with Robert as a great business opportunity for her, and Robert quickly realizes it’s also a great opportunity for him. Romance can sometimes be born out of professional relationships — they can just organically occur. I really don’t think that Robert’s ready, and we get a sense of his reluctance: She comes on so strong as a professional initially, and also has to initiates things.
HBO: Robert was initially opposed to the divorce. How is he able to move on and into this new relationship?
Thomas Haden Church: We had a new producing team come in this season with Jenny Bicks as the showrunner, and there was a big debate around Robert and Jackie’s relationship. Robert and Jackie are both very lonely, and we really did pull back and let it unwind in a more authentic way. I think Robert is still in love with Frances, so for him to be with anyone else — whether it’s a real romance or even just some superficial relationship — I wanted it to start off more slowly.
They are both in real estate, but could not be more opposite — Robert is struggling and she’s this wheeler dealer, but that’s what’s great about it. She’s this younger, attractive, successful broker, but she sees this middle-aged guy down on his luck and she sees a lot of possibilities — that is something I really appreciate.
HBO: Why do you think Robert proposed to Jackie so early in their relationship?
Thomas Haden Church: That was aggressively discussed. Regardless of the fact that Robert’s with someone and Frances is with someone, they are still very protective of one another. There was a version where Jackie proposed to Robert, and it was a big emotional moment for Jackie originally. I encouraged the producers to take a different direction and helped rewrite it. I recommended that it be more natural: What if they are just talking about their trip and shooting baskets?
On a certain level, it’s almost like another business deal. I wanted it to be like, this is the most practical thing to do, not necessarily the most romantic thing to do. Robert spent the last 22 years building a life, family and romance with someone else.With this new, younger woman — he doesn’t know how to define it yet. They are in business together and a relationship and it’s the practical thing to do.
HBO: What did you think about Robert repaying Frances?
Thomas Haden Church: To be able to give Frances a check — that’s a powerful statement. He is literally repaying her for his half of the past two years of her working and him not bringing in any income. It says: Here’s your part of my current success.