A Chat with Peter Krause and Christopher Leone
Peter Krause first came to major television prominence through his role as Casey McCall on ABC’s “Sports Night,” then made a surprisingly simple transition from comedy to drama when he secured the plum part of Nate Fisher on HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” Now, Krause has returned to television in a project that may surprise some: “The Lost Room,” a miniseries for the Sci-Fi Network. We had a chance to chat with Krause as well as one of the show’s co-writers, Christopher Leone, about the upcoming miniseries – airing Dec. 11th, 12th, and 13th – as well as about his work on “Six Feet Under.”
Bullz-Eye: Hi, Peter.
Peter Krause: Hi, Will!
BE: My wife watched parts one and two of “The Lost Room” with me, and now she’s totally smitten with you, so thanks for raising the bar.
PK: (Laughs) Sorry. It’s all Chris’s doing!
BE: So what inspired you to go with a sci-fi flick as your next television project? Was it the undercurrent of family that’s at the heart of it?
PK: Well, when I first started reading it, I was fascinated by what Chris and Laura (Harkcom) and Paul (Workman) did. I mean, they took this idea that what if you had…and I love the fact that they are non-obvious object power relationships. Like, whoever would think that a pocket comb could stop time? I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next, initially…and, of course, the separation of parent and child is a classic suspense theme. And I liked also the chance to play a character who is a classic hero…that basically he knows right from wrong, he knows what his objective is…because I spent a lot of time playing conflicted anti-heroes. And it’s only at the very end of the “Lost Room” mini-series that Joe Miller confronts a real moral dilemma, and I have to say to you, Chris Leone, that it’s one of the great moral dilemmas that I’ve seen. The question…
Christopher Leone: Thank you.
PK: The question that’s posed to him at the very end of the miniseries is about as good as it gets.
CL: Well…thanks, man! (Laughs)
PK: No, but that’s true. I just think they wrote a really compelling story, and it was something that I’d want to watch, and, again, playing the classic hero was something very appealing to me.
CL: Yeah, I always loved the idea of…well, it’s really this kind of an insane premise, but then played out in kind of a what-if? scenario…like, well, how would people react? And seeing one guy’s journey through the whole thing was just really appealing to me. One that was actually, like, it’s a big, crazy world, but with a very clear, central mission for this guy: to get his daughter back.
BE: And it’s treated in such a sane fashion throughout. I mean, it’s crazy what they’re experiencing, and yet they treat it like, well, this is reality, so…
CL: Yeah, right: how would you deal with it? At some point, it becomes normal…or, at least, you have to accept it and figure out what to do next, even if it’s surreal.
BE: And, Christopher, obviously, I haven’t seen the final chapter of the miniseries yet…although I’ll be calling Bill (publicist for "The Lost Room") as soon as I get off this call…
PK: Oh, wow. That’s good!
BE: …but can you say whether there’s any potential of an ongoing series by the end of the final chapter? Because with so many objects, it seems like the potential would be there.
CL: I think…well, as a miniseries, it’s definitely a closed story, but, I mean, I think there’s a huge world of potential in the show for it to go on. Hopefully, that’s more of a Sci-Fi (Network) question, but I think there’s a lot of potential.
PK: I would say, y’know, we discussed some of these things in New Mexico when we were filming, and, like “Star Wars” or anything like that, there’s always the opportunity to go back in time and do prequels and things like that, or to sort of rocket into the future and skip around in time concerning the world of the objects, because it is a really fascinating and fun world these guys created.
BE: Peter, before “Six Feet Under,” you did a fair amount of sitcom work, including “Sports Night,” obviously.
BE: Have you thought about returning to comedy? Because you’ve got great timing.
PK: Oh, well, thank you. I’d love to. You know, we joked a little bit as we were filming “The Lost Room” that it was turning into Bud Abbott and the Lou Costellos. I kept being the straight man, I realized, for all these funny guys. So there was Roger Bart (“Desperate Housewives”) as the Weasel, or Peter Jacobson, actually, who’s an old, old friend of mine. He started out at Julliard when I was starting out at NYU, so we met way back in 1987, and it’s the first chance that we’ve had to work together, and we were both pretty excited about it. Peter Jacobson plays Wally, the guy with the bus ticket, and so we were really excited to get to be able to work together. It was sort of the perfect relationship and the perfect two characters for us to work with each other. And then, of course, working with Ewan Bremner (“Trainspotting”) from Scotland was a treat. Kevin Pollak, obviously, and Dennis Christopher. Everybody was just great. Kevin Pollak had me on the ropes by the end of the shoot. I could barely…I couldn’t make eye contact with him.
CL: Yeah, I love your relationship…Peter’s relationship…with Wally. And the Weasel, especially. His comedy…especially Wally…there were times when it was, like, man, these guys could go on the road! Because there is a comic relationship with them…and an emotional one, too.
PK: That’s something that was so great, too, about working on this piece, that…and, Chris, I don’t want to compliment you too much…because you’re a dick.
CL: (Bursts into laughter)
PK: I’m joking. (Laughs) But you found a really nice…it’s effortless, sort of, when you watch it, the tone changes so quickly from comedy to drama. There’s a romance that’s working, there’s suspense that’s working, there’s science fiction stuff that’s working…and, then, there’s this great light comedy that kind of percolates throughout the thing, which was…I dunno, it was just so fun to do because of that, because you were kind of twisting and turning the tone of it all along the way.
CL: I think it comes naturally from the characters, which is why it kind of works together. Like, I couldn’t really write “jokey” if I tried, I think, but just because of the nature of this, it’s, like, there are funny things, and the world of it is so bizarre, that the characters do it to react to it.
BE: And my editor’s a big “Six Feet Under” fan, and he just wanted me to ask you one quick question.
BE: With Nate Fisher being so determined to live a spiritual life in the face of all his obstacles, how much of yourself went into his character, and how has he inspired your life?
PK: Oh, man. I don’t know. I mean, I found a lot of similarities between Nate and I when I first started the series, and as time went on, Nate kind of…devolved or something. (Laughs) I’m not sure what happened. But the last couple of seasons were kind of tough to live inside that character’s skin. I think he became very uncomfortable in his life, back in a world he so desperately wanted to escape from. It’s almost like the gravity of adulthood was something he was always trying to escape, and the closer he got to this sort of non-childlike set of responsibilities, the less powerful he felt in the world, I think. It was almost like…going back to that sort of Peter Pan thing that they write about Nate Fisher in the beginning. Adulthood was kryptonite to Nate Fisher.
BE: Did playing him change you at all?PK: I suppose it did on some level, but one telling thing is that it certainly made me want to work on material like this, which is not about succumbing to gravity. It’s about the classic hero’s journey, it’s about overcoming obstacles and moving forward and continuing, even though you have to compromise yourself along the way.