The actors and the director of the new series of Apple TV +, Severance, confided in the microphone of AlloCiné on this show at the crossroads of genres of which a new episode arrives every Friday.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
Mark Scout works for Lumon Industries, where he leads a team whose employees undergo surgery to separate their memories related to their professional life from those related to their private life. This risky experiment in balancing work and personal life is challenged when Mark finds himself at the heart of a mystery that will force him to confront the true nature of his job…and his own.
Interview with actors Adam Scott (Mark), Zach Cherry (Dylan), Britt Lower (Helly) and Tramell Tillman (Milchick), who all play employees of Lumon Industries, as well as the director of the majority of the episodes, Ben Stiller.
AlloCiné: What attracted you to this project?
Ben Stiller: I get a lot of scripts at my production company, Red Hour Film. I usually say no to almost everything. But there, I found the concept, the story and the characters, totally out of the ordinary. It fascinated me from the first page of the pilot.
So I called Adam Scott because I thought he would be the perfect Mark. I had worked with him on my film The Dream Life of Walter Mitty, and I knew he had the humor but also the seriousness necessary to play the role to perfection. Adam also loved the project. And three years later, we were finally putting the series into production.
Can you introduce Severance to us?
Adam Scott: For me it’s a mixture of several genres of series. It is part comedy, part satire, part thriller, part science fiction. I like how we start the series as a comedy à la The Office and that, little by little, we switch into a scary atmosphere. It’s such a theme-rich show. It’s a kind of labyrinth that tries to make you lose your way.
Every time you think you’ll find the solution to the mystery, a new twist will call everything into question. In fact, you never really know what universe you are in. It’s really confusing and totally unique. Unheard of for a series. It is also a visually and intellectually stimulating series for the eyes as well as for the neurons.
Zach Cherry: I think it’s a unique show because it makes us reflect on our human condition. On our condition in the world of work. The visual world that Ben Stiller has created is breathtaking. I think you will be surprised by this intriguing and confusing universe.
Britt Lower: I like the duality of tone that this show offers. It oscillates between comedy and thriller, it’s surprising.
We are becoming more and more dependent on big corporations.
What is the real theme of the series?
Ben Stiller: It is a series that asks the question of determining what is true and what is not. What is important in life and what is not. It’s a series that makes you think about the complexity of the human condition. It is also an edifying look at all these big companies that have almost become sects and are gradually taking control of our lives.
In the end, I hope that the public will understand that we have to manage to find ourselves, to become whole, despite all these attempts at division that we face. It’s so hard in the end to know who we are and we too often get lost in this confusing maze that life has become.
Is Severance trying to alert us to the increasingly inhuman world of work?
Adam Scott: It is clear that all the big companies are more and more intrusive, in our professional lives as our personal lives. It’s almost Big Brother. We are becoming more and more dependent on big corporations and we can no longer live without them. I think at some point we’re going to have to stop this process of intruding on our private lives. What is certain is that we are already caught up in this process of dependence on these big corporations.
Zach Cherry: Yes, it is certain that this series is a kind of alarm bell in the ultra corporate world. More than anything, it is an analysis of labor relations that needs to be reassessed.
Britt Lower: Indeed, this is one of the points raised by this series. This show also asks the question of whether eliminating the depressing and problematic elements of your life restores color to this life? It is no doubt a human desire to compartmentalize one’s life in such a way. My character, Helly, will in any case rebel against the intrusive approach of the “severance” procedure and this ultra-corporatist world.
Tramell Tillman: For me, beyond what my colleagues have just said, it is also a highlighting of the dangers of the quest for power. How ambition can lead to madness if it is excessive. It is also a look at control in society and in the world of work. In the end, it is the danger of wanting a world where the individual disappears in favor of the mass with a single thought. When the thirst for power mixes with technological advances, all totalitarian excesses are possible.
Does it make your head spin to play two characters in one show?
Adam Scott: It was complicated because it was a question of playing my two roles with subtlety in order to show that there were differences but, at the same time, it is the same person. That’s what Ben wanted. In fact, they are two halves of the same person. The Mark who lives in the outside world has 40 years of human experiences, emotions while the Mark who lives in this mysterious office floor has only 2 years of human experience.
Zach Cherry: Yes, it’s not always easy to remember the two sides of my character. Especially since the two Dylans have really different life experiences. But this challenge was formidable and pushed me to give the best of myself.
Is the procedure your characters go through something you would do for yourself?
Tramel Tillman: No, it’s not my cup of tea and I’m not at all ready to do such a procedure. I think the loss of choice, of self, is more dangerous than beneficial. So no “severance” for me. But everyone has their own choice.
Adam Scott: I don’t think I would today. No doubt, if I was younger, I would have thought of it because it still seems quite cool as an experience. I am someone who likes to experiment with everything in my life. Whether it’s a good or a bad experience, it allows me to learn more about life.
The older I get, the more I want to have multiple experiences to fully enjoy this existence. What is incredible is that it may soon be offered to the general public. Elon Musk, apparently, is working on such a “severance” procedure.