Creator/Executive Producer Jason Segel, who also plays Peter on AMC’s Dispatches From Elsewhere, talks about the important role of the Narrator during the Series Premiere and why we all want to feel “special.”
A: Our show is constantly designed to challenge you as a viewer to get rid of your expectations. We open with Octavio Colman, Esq.– played by Richard E. Grant – looking directly at you and forcing you to pay attention. I thought that was a really effective way to encourage you to put down your phone or your iPad and pay attention to what is happening.
Q: How would you describe Peter when we first meet him in the Series Premiere?
A: I think Peter is facing an existential crisis that a lot of us face in our 30s, where you have checked all the boxes you’ve been told would give you a happy or satisfying life, only to find that something is missing. I think it’s a really common feeling. Peter represents that to the extreme – someone who is disillusioned because they did everything they were supposed to do and they still feel the same.
Q: What ultimately drives him to make that call to the number on the flier?
A: Sadly, in a lot of ways, I think it’s somebody that has nothing left to lose. I think that we all have the secret hope that someone is going to show up and say that you’re meant to be with the special people. It’s what Harry Potter is based on. It’s what every Roald Dahl book is based on. It’s the same thing that happens to Peter. It’s everyone’s secret hope coming true – that amidst all of the mundane day in, day out of everyday life, maybe there’s a chance you’re special.
Q: And what’s it like for him to have that taken away from him just as quickly as it’s given to him?
A: I think that’s all of our experience with feeling special…that maybe it’s going to get ripped away from us or maybe it’s hard to hold onto or we have it for a minute and next thing you know, we look in the mirror and it’s gone. I think Peter’s experience really mimics how we experience feeling special in real life.
Q: Peter is immediately inspired by Simone upon meeting her and how she moves in this world. What does he see in her?
A: I think what Peter sees in Simone is somebody who is making bold choices for their own happiness. And that is something that Peter has never done.
Q: When Peter meets the rest of his group, it’s clear they all have different perspectives about what this whole experience is. How will that impact their relationships as the show goes on?
A: The show and the game are all a metaphor for life. We’re all here together with no idea what the point is. [Laughs] We have different life experiences and different perspectives. What is our choice going to be? Are we going to recognize our differences and isolate ourselves or start communicating and learn from each other?
Q: Is there something to be said about consciously exploring an unknown journey versus just social compliance? Is that something we’ll explore more as we go on?
A: This is a great question because what this is asking is the exact dichotomy presented in the show between the Jejune Institute and the Elsewhere Society. The Jejune Institute is basically telling you how to behave and the Elsewhere Society is telling you to buck authority. Which path are you going to follow? And do either of them lead you to where you want to go?
Q: What does “divine nonchalance” personally mean to you?
A: Divine nonchalance is incredibly hard to put into words succinctly, but it’s a feeling that you know when you have it. Metaphorically, or maybe for no reason that I can necessarily describe, it’s represented by that color of Elsewhere blue. Maybe it’s because of the sky or water, but it’s some sense of being enveloped by something loving. It’s a sense that everything is happening just the way it’s supposed to.
Dispatches From Elsewhere‘s two-night premiere continues Monday, March 2nd at 10/9c.
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