‘Love & Death’ EPs on Rock Star Elizabeth Olsen & Brutality of This Murder

admin2021May 26, 2023

[Editor’s note: The following contains some spoilers for Love & Death.]Written by David E. Kelley, the Max Original limited series Love & Death tells the true story of Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen), a churchgoing housewife in small town Texas whose extramarital affair with Allan Gore (Jesse Plemons) ultimately had deadly consequences. Candy is as charismatic as Allan is passive, making the two a very unlike pair, but their mutual need for intimacy and connection that leads them to look outside their marriages and to each other, also finds them caught up in a murder investigation that starts to unravel all the lies and deceit.


During this interview with Collider, executive producers Kelley and Lesli Linka Glatter (who also directed episodes of the series) talked about why they found this story so intriguing, how you can’t have all the answers with only one side of the story, what made Olsen and Lily Rabe (who plays Betty Gore, Allan’s wife) rock stars, how they approached showing the brutality of what happened, and what made Olsen the perfect actress to embody Candy Montgomery.

Collider: This is such a fascinating story with such incredibly compelling characters at its center. What made you want to do this? Was it the story, itself? Was it the time period? Was it this woman, specifically? Was it everything together?

DAVID E. KELLEY: You actually led with the answer. It was the fascination of the character. We were really compelled by Candy, and Alan, and others, as well. It was the opportunity to explore these really complicated, contradictory characters that had us both leading in.

LESLI LINKA GLATTER: For me, layered, complicated, complex female characters, you had me at, “Hello.”

Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery in Love & Death
Image via Max

As an audience, we seem to always want to know why, for things that there may not be an explanation for.

GLATTER: Exactly what you’re saying is certainly what compelled me. I think we both are, but I know that I am, more interested in the why, rather than the how, meaning not just the true crime drama of it all, but the human condition behind that. Everything that you’re saying about the time and everything, is all part and parcel of that. There are so many facts in this story that, if it wasn’t true, you couldn’t make it up. We tried to stay true to those facts and do a deep dive into the psychology of the characters. I am so interested in women, particularly, but also in men, who have a deep hole in their psyche. No matter how good the surface looks and how fulfilling their lives are on the surface, there’s something inside that is so profoundly unfulfilled.

As storytellers, do you feel like you need to answer the why for yourself, or is it just the exploration that you find satisfying?

KELLEY: In terms of the why of what happened, no because I don’t think we have answered it. We still wonder. Before the project, during the project, and one of the last questions I asked after the project, to one of our consultants, who was a lawyer, was that why question. I said, “Why do you think this happened? And his answer coincided with what we presented, but we don’t know for sure.

GLATTER: We only know what happened in that laundry room from Candy’s point of view because she’s the one who survived. We don’t have the wonderful Kurosawa film Rashomon, where you have six different points of view, and then you finally see the ghost of the woman murdered. We only know what happened from Candy’s point of view, which was the worst scene I’ve ever had to film, in my entire career. It was so emotional and heart-wrenching, and Lizzie Olsen and Lily Rabe are rock stars.

Lily Rabe as Betty Gore and Jesse Plemons as Allan Gore in Love & Death
Image via Max

How did you approach figuring out how to show that? When you have something so heinous that happens and that’s so hard to watch, as a viewer, how did you decide how much of that to show and when to show it, how to be respectful, and how to make the most impact?

KELLEY: In terms of the writing part, it was very well-researched, in terms of how the scene was choreographed, who grabbed the axe first, and the first swing to the head. Everything was laid out in meticulous detail in the book, so my approach, going in, was to just be disciplined. Where I was ambushed is that it’s a different thing, when you’re writing a real event. In fictionalized worlds, I’ve had bad murder scenes, and you’re writing characters hitting other characters on the head with blunt instruments, and then the day job ends and you go home and back to your life. When you’re mining a real event, it resonates in a much more visceral way. Even though much of that work existed on the page and I felt I was just trying to capture what was already on the page in the book, the mere going into that cave to inhabit that event, and the people who were there, it was dark and it resonates in a visceral way that wobbles you a little bit. When I saw dailies, the first thing I did was pick up the phone and reach out to Lesli was okay, and Lizzie was okay, and Lily was okay. It was clear that they also inhabited that world, in a very real way, and you don’t just do that and blindly walk away.

GLATTER: I’ve done a lot of action in my career. I’ve blown a lot of shit up. I’ve killed people in really bad ways. But this was something completely different. We chose to show small parts of it, before we actually hear Lizzie testify in the courtroom, from her point of view, what happened. That was a very clear choice, to tell it that way and to show it that way. As a director, I want to protect everyone and have them feel as safe as one can be, doing a very risky scene. Of course, I storyboarded it, we choreographed it, and we had rehearsals, but those two actors embraced going to that place. It felt risky. It felt scary.

KELLEY: We could have easily, as storytellers, said, “Okay, we get the point. We don’t need to stay here. Let’s move on.” But the event went on and on and on, and Candy kept swinging and swinging and swinging. The horror compounded. I remember feeling that when I read it in the book, and we wanted to be able to convey that to the audience. This was not something you could just look at and go, “Okay, I get the idea,” and move on. The true horror of it was how elongated the event was.

GLATTER: And picking up an axe. I couldn’t pick up an axe and swing once, so something must have happened to her. We don’t know. Something must have cracked, in that moment, to release that rage, which is called dissociative reaction. We’ll never really know. But something had to have happened because she was a tiny woman and that is not something you could do.

Normally, I’m fine with movie and TV gore because I know it’s fake, so it doesn’t bother me. But with this, I had to look away a few times because it’s so difficult to watch.

GLATTER: It’s up close and personal. I can tell you, at the end of the day, Lizzie and Lily and I held onto each other. Those two actors are something else.

Elizabeth Olsen as Candy Montgomery and Jesse Plemons as Allan Gore in Love & Death
Image via Max

Obviously, the story centers around Candy Montgomery, which means the actress playing her is important, as well. What it always Elizabeth Olsen? She’s just so spectacular in this. What did you think she would bring to this?

GLATTER: She is spectacular. She was always our first choice. That’s who we saw. That’s who we wanted. Fortunately, David’s amazing scripts were sent to her and we got on a Zoom call because of COVID, and that was that. To me, she has this incredible facility. First of all, she’s an amazing human being. But as an actor, she is so generous of spirit. She allows you behind her eyes, to see something about how we humans work and about the human condition. To go to that deep place with such a complicated character, and not judge that character, but to be that character, who was filled with joy, and filled with sadness and emptiness, was an amazing gift.

There’s so much going on with Candy that it seems like, if she’d just taken a quiet moment to evaluate things, maybe she could have dealt with her emotions, in a different way.

GLATTER: People, both men and women, didn’t go to therapy when something was missing. You didn’t talk about it, in that way. Marriage Encounter was a place where couples could go and talk about their relationship, but it really did take place in that motel that looked like medieval times. As a director, I would never have made the choice to set that there, if it wasn’t true.

Love & Death is available to stream at Max.

Source link


Leave a comment

Name *
Add a display name
Email *
Your email address will not be published