“One must be careful what one wishes for,” Ben Kingsley cautioned TCA during his Q&A about Epix’s 10-episode series Perpetual Grace, LTD.
The series follows a young grifter named James, played by Jimmi Simpson, as he attempts to prey upon Kingsley’s Pastor Byron Brown, who turns out to be a dangerous guy.
Kingsley said he’d been talking to his reps about “the possibility of having a wonderful leading role in a great TV series” when “lo and behold, it fell into our laps.”
As to the “careful what one wishes for” part, Kingsley called it “grindingly hard work,” in which they shoot about triple the two pages per day that the feature film world sets as its pace.
“However, the quality of the writing sustains us, and the dignity…of our director sustains us,” He said.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to explore the light and the dark, the light and shade. I could not say ‘no’,” Kingsley added.
Perpetual Grace, LTD (formerly Our Lady, LTD) hails from Patriot creator Steve Conrad and Epix’s sister studio MGM Television. It’s written by Conrad and Patriot co-producer Bruce Terris; Conrad also directs.
Simpson, meanwhile, said he “hadn’t read anything so beautiful in years” adding, “once I saw it, I could not look at another project.”
KIngsley called Perpetual Grace, LTD a “10-hour movie.” Jackie Weaver plays his wife; together they use religion to bilk hundreds of innocent people out of their life savings.
They are like the Macbeths in “Shakespeare’s greatest play,” KIngsley described.
Paradoxically, they’re probably the happiest couple in the play,” Kingsley added, being so “in tune with each other.” This reminded him of something
the “great director Peter Brooks said to me” – when working on a Shakespeare production he clarified – “an actor must always aspire to something in the character that is greater than you.”
Kingsley also referenced Howard Bloom’s book, Shakespeare: the Invention of the Human in which the author analyzes each of the bard’s plays, declaring 24 of them masterpiece.
Conrad and Terris did not mention Shakespeare, when asked “what kind of feeling were you going for.” Conrad said they are making a contribution to the genre of film noir.
Film noir, he described, is ” about people who are smart enough to hatch a plan, but not smart enough to pull it off,” naming Double Indemnity among the genre’s more notable achievements.
Perpetual Grace, LTD is set in New Mexico, Conrad said when asked, because contemporary New Mexico “feels an awful lot like the Wild West, juxtaposing “rampant drug use” with a “supremely beautiful” natural surrounding.
Kingsley called the landscape “biblical,” which he said, “we as actors find tremendously exhilarating.”
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