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SDCC 2017: Dirk Gently – Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett Interview

by Matt Sernaker, Managing Editor
Dirk Gently returns for Season Two, and ComicsOnline is back with more interviews with the cast and crew! Next up is our roundtable with Elijah Wood and Samuel Barnett. The two discussed the comedic elements of the series, dynamics between the two lead characters, the newest cast additions, and more!
Check out the full interview below:
CO: Did you play a role in writing any of the slapstick elements in the show? Particularly you climbing the fence?
Sam: I certainly didn’t. That is all from the great mind of Max Landis. That particular one (climbing the fence and wiggling my bottom around) was Michael P. Jann, our director. But no, it’s all in there. I’ve been really aware of not wanting to be too much of a comic book version of myself, but I think the material kind of lends itself to it now and then. It’s been a lot of fun to find that stuff as we go along. And also, Max writes an awful lot of slapstick right into it 
Elijah: There’s a lot of physicality that’s written into the script from Max that’s pretty specific.
CO: What can we expect from your relationship moving into season two? Will you get along more, or will we see more of the hissy-fit fights?
Elijah: There’s actually been a shift in regards to our relationship. In the first season, Todd is super reluctant to do anything that Dirk wants him to do or to believe in the things that Dirk believes in. In season two we find that there’s a shift and he’s haven’t an existential crisis about the universe and what it all means, and Todd is very much on board…very enthusiastically. It’s a bit of a role reversal.
Sam: Dirk just doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. He wants everything to slow down and wants to be a normal detective. Todd is like “use your superpower”, but Dirk is like “my superpower gets people killed…I’m not going to do that anymore”. It’s definitely a role reversal.
Elijah: It’s been fun. It’s a different dynamic, but inherently, the same dynamic exists that we ended with. They really became friends by the end of the first season. The fight back and forth ceased to exists by the end of the season as well. Now the underlying truth of their relationship is this friendship and a bond, but now they are fighting about a different thing…which is to get him (Dirk) on board.
Sam: Well, I think they can have that fight because now they are friends. Dirk actually does think he has a friend and believes that. I think that is part of what freaks him out. If he has friends, then friends can get killed and if you care about people then it’s going to be really sad.
CO: You have Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine joining you this season. How do their characters play off of your respective characters? What is the dynamic between you guys?
Elijah: Well Tyler plays a sheriff in a fictional town in Montana that a good portion of the season takes place in. We interact with Tyler’s character a lot, but we interact with Alan’s character less. Alan plays a character named Priest who works for Blackwing, the secret government division that is trying to harness all of these people with special abilities. He’s kind of the enforcer of that particular division. We only interact with him sort of briefly, but it’s intense.
Sam: He’s very intense as Priest.
Elijah: He’s incredible. 
Sam: We are so lucky to have both of those actors doing these roles because they bring so much more than what’s on the page to those characters. They really bring them to life. It’s so weird because it feels like they’ve always been part of the Dirk Gently Universe even though they are totally new. I want them back in Season Three, but I don’t know if that will happen.
Elijah: They already feel like family. 
Sam: Yeah they do.
CO: I always thought that Dirk Gently had a British sense of humor. Why do you think that the series works so well for a global audience?
Sam: I think it remains particularly and peculiarly British because Dirk is still British. We’ve actually had more British directors on board for this season, because they seem to understand that language. Its done in a very slick, bigger budget, cable TV, American way which always really works for the humor, violence, and kind of sci-fi fantasy element that I’ve grown up watching. They’ve almost done that better than we’ve done in Britain, but now its equaling out certainly. I think that people like the British sensibility, but with a really slick American budget and great American actors. There are so many great British, American, and Canadian Actors in the show. I think it seems to be having some global appeal which is nice.
Elijah: I think that obviously the titular character is British and the sensibilities are British. The humor is sort of inspired by British humor, which I think Max (Landis) loves as well, but it’s also a mix of genres. This season is so different than the first season. We’re making essentially a sci-fi/fantasy show this season because a good portion of this season takes place in a fantasy land called Windemore. It’s so much of a mix of genres that I think it has a global appeal in that sense. At the heart of all of that, its also about characters. The characters are so well drawn and developed, so there’s an emotional core. Regardless of what your entry point is, the foundation of the show is an emotional one.
Sam: What’s brilliant actually is taking the same characters and putting them in totally different situations because the audiences seem to have really taken to the characters a lot more. They like watching them in different setups.
Elijah: And we, the actors, literally get thrust into very strange and unique scenarios as well. We are like, “we’re doing this this season??”.
Sam: There is never a normal scene.
Elijah: Nope. Not a single NORMAL scene in this show. 
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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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