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SDCC 2017: Dirk Gently – Max Landis and Robert Cooper Interview


by Matt Sernaker, Managing Editor

Dirk Gently fans can rejoice, because Season Two is about to premiere on BBC! The creative team of Max Landis (Chronicle) and Robert Cooper (Stargate SG-1) joined us at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the series, the original source material, cast additions, and more! Check out the full interview below:

CO: How did you take something so quintessentially British and translate it in a way that would work all around the world? 

Robert Cooper: Sam’s British. I don’t know if you know that. You know the weird thing is most of the director’s in season 2 are British. There’s just a sensibility to the show, and I think that’s to a certain extent what gives the show a little bit of a bend to it. When American audiences watch it, they feel like “oh that’s something different or new that I haven’t really felt or seen before.” There’s a rhythm to it. There’s a mix of comedy and thriller and violence. The tone is just so unique and special that it feels like it draws more from the British sensibility. 

Max Landis: There’s also the Adamsian – we try to weave in the Adamsian sort of absurdism so that the scene’s themselves feel like individual scenes. They don’t feel like steps on a fucking staircase to the end of the episode. So that you can’t really tell where anythings going. The goal for any individual episode of Dirk Gently is for you to be like, “Oh, and now we’re doing this? They’re going there, and now they’re here? Wait, when did we end up at the bottom of this well?” 

RC: Max just did a really good impression of me in the writer’s room. 

ML: That was more Matt Goldman. 


ML: You know the British sensibility of it comes from the absurdism, comes from the British directors, and comes from the fact that there’s a deliberate effort to make it feel like a Douglas Adams thing. And a Douglas Adams thing will be sitting still and not moving at all and then thirty weird things’ll happen and then it’ll go back to sitting still. And there aren’t many other things that look like that. 

CO: Are you going to try to keep fans of the original source material happy? 

ML: Too late for them. As a fan of the original material, I’m very happy. I think for me it was a matter, I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again, Douglas Adams is an unadaptable author. You might as well be trying to adapt Pynchon. Though that’s been done a couple of times. It’s an author whose voice is his weapon. His stories and ideas are secondary to a voice that is so charismatic and so compelling that all you can do is try to emulate the storytelling style and mimic the ideas. But if you don’t start from scratch, you’re not going to be able to cook anything interesting. 

RC: I also thing that character drives story, and one of the things that happens in television once you’ve cast it and once you’ve lived with the characters for a while is that they start perpetuating the storyline. So you start to see where the chemistry is and what’s working for certain people, and by people I mean the characters. So it snowballs. It’s not “oh let’s just fit them in this square peg in this round hole,” it’s “okay, what’s Bart’s story this year? What’s she like in season 1?” And a lot of that comes from how the storyline evolved. 

CO: You’ve adding Alan and Tyler to your cast. What do they bring to this series and what attracted you to those actors?

ML: Every character whose been added this season, and keep in mind we got rid of our entire supporting cast in the first season, is an entirely new supporting cast because it’s a new case. Every character this season I designed, and is designed, created to bring out stuff and tones, feelings and colors, that were not present in the first season. And to show different sides of our existing characters and different sides of our existing world. When you have actors like Alan, Tyler, Izzie – everyone we added – Alec, John Hannah –

RC: Amanda Walsh –

ML: Fucking Amanda Walsh. I can’t talk about her character though. The brilliant Amanda Walsh. You get into this world where it just adds so much richness and depth to what’s happening. Actors like that.

RC: There’s also a fun thing that goes on with that. Where a lot of the characters are echoes of characters from season 1 and there are easter egg plays on things that happened in season 1. So fans of season one will be like, “Hey that kind of happened before.” 

CO: How far ahead have you planned?

ML: I have three (seasons) right now. With a loose four if I get lucky. But in season 1, it was funny because it was kind of an uphill battle where we gotta put this in there too. And then the few things in season 1 that were like “what does that mean? that doesn’t seem connected to anything?” is all shit in this season.

CO: What’s the new trouble this time around?

ML: The new trouble this time around is doing one of the most ambitious diverse – 

RC: Makeup –

ML: Makeup? No but I think makeup is part of what we’re trying to do. 

RC: We’re creating new characters like non-human characters, and that takes a tremendous amount of time in the design of those and then getting them on set. They’re old fashioned problems.

ML: To be fair this interview is going to sound dumb when people first see the Fooky Napu (spelling?) and is like, “ That took hours?” (laughter)

RC: That was not the one that took hours. They will recognize the ones that did. 

ML: I feel like they will see those and be like, “I see where the budget of this show (went).” 

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About Matt Sernaker

(Managing Editor/Director of Media Relations) Matt interviewed MacGyver once (true story), and was invited on a submarine to the Arctic. It hasn't happened yet, but Matt hopes that some day he will get the call and he and Richard Dean Anderson will go off and have a wacky adventure.

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