Greetings! Continuing the desire to be a voice for independent film here at OneFilmFan.com, I recently decided to venture outside that box briefly to take a try at scoring interviews with as many cast members as possible from the Sundance Channel’s hit show, “Rectify”. We first had the honor of posting the brief, “snapshot” interview with actor Bruce McKinnon, who plays family patriarch Ted Talbot, Sr. on the show. Now, our second interview opportunity has come about, courtesy of, appropriate enough, Clayne Crawford, who plays Ted Talbot, Jr. Speaking via phone, Clayne weighs in with his own thoughts on my short question format, discussing the show, his involvement, his character, and a more humorous take on what he’d like to say to fans and those who have yet to watch what is truly one of the best character dramas on TV. And so, here is my interview with Clayne Crawford!
One Film Fan: First off, a question I am asking each member of the cast. What was it that drew you to this show and/or how did the final opportunity present itself to become part of it?
Clayne Crawford: I was drawn to it after I was given episodes 1 & 2 out a stack of about 30 other pilot scripts and it blew everything else out of the water, right? All the NBC stuff, CBS, TNT,–just blew it out of the water. So I set it aside and I told my guys this is what I want. Done. This is IT. This is what we go after”. And they were like “relax, it’s Sundance Channel, no money, no one’s ever going to see it. So let’s focus on some other stuff”. And I said “You’ve LOST it, man! Just read it! It’s insane! No one’s ever depicted the South in an honest way”. I said “each character, individually, have specific arcs. And they’re written like human beings. They’re not written like traditional television characters. Every one is all over the place, which is how human beings are.” And my guys were like in one ear and out the other.
So then I was shooting Jeff Easton’s pilot, “Graceland”, at the time, and they had not been picked up (by USA Network). So we were doing the pilot. And they were like, “Look, if you’re going to go meet with Ray (McKinnon, creator, writer, producer of “Rectify”) then you’re going to have to go into the office at 7am”. And I am like “Shut up!” So I had to go in there before going to work, and I met Ray. And I didn’t realize it was Ray McKinnon! And that was just it! I had read for him for “Crystal” years ago, and was such a huge fan of his work, as an actor. And I was like “Look, man—“and I laid it down. He was like “Where are you from?” I said, “Alabama, bubba! I would kill this thing!” And he laughed and we all hugged it out, I left, and went to work.
And I am staying in a hotel, right, cause I’m livin’ in Alabama at the time, and my guys are like “You have to go back in again tomorrow morning and get up at f@!%^*# 7am” and I am like “WHAT are you talking about?” They’re like “Yeah!” And I am like “What could I have done different?” So I go back in and I do it and he goes “Ok!” And I am like “Is there anything you want me to do different?” and he’s like “No. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fluke and you could do it again.” And I was like “Alright! Cool!” So he left and I came home. About a week later they called me and were like “They’re flying you back out to L.A. for a screen test.” Look at that. So I flew out, tested, and that was it!
O.F.F.: Your character, Ted Talbot, Jr., has most certainly been through the ringer on multiple fronts ever since Daniel Holden came back into his family’s life. Ted is someone whose driven to succeed, held back at times by his own father, battling the relationship with his wife Tawney, trying to cope with events that occurred with Daniel, desiring it would all just go away, while really learning more and more about who he is as a person through it all. How do you take all of that on in playing this role over these last 2 ½ seasons?
C.C.: Well, the easy part is that I built up Teddy, his backstory, and make him as obnoxious and as confident, though it doesn’t SEEM like he’s very confident, right, as he is a very shallow man. So, I just built him up. And then, I’ve going through all this stuff. When we met Teddy, he was at his peak. And I, as Clayne Crawford, had actually gone through this with Teddy. So for me, whomever I am talking to, I get to actually conjure true memories of what Teddy’s experienced.
So it’s not this meditative, Misener-type thing I have to go through. I genuinely can just live in that space, in that moment, and deal with the true memories of Teddy. What I’m dealing with Tawney (Teddy’s wife, played by Adelaide Clemens on “Rectify”) I have very specific issues with her, my Dad, very specific, etc. And I think that’s why Teddy is so different with whoever it is he’s talking to. Because he’s very different with Jared (Teddy’s younger brother, played by Jake Austin Walker), he’s very confident, big brother to Jared, you know? And then with Tawney, he’s quite sensitive. With Dad, he’s like a little boy. With Daniel, he’s a f&^#@!& man, and it’s the only time he IS a man, right?
So for me, it’s been wonderful because, again, I found Teddy at the top, and we’ve just been able to roll down the hill together. And as a result, I’ve lost everything and now I’m forced to have to look at myself. And that’s the journey I’m on in Season 3, which is really nice with Ray McKinnon writing such beautiful material.
O.F.F.: Through almost 2 ½ seasons now, you’ve had the amazing chance to work under the guidance of creator/writer/producer Ray McKinnon. What has it been like to work with him on this, honestly, visionary show?
C.C.: It’s just been wonderful working with Ray. It’s so intimate, that’s what it is working with Ray. Because the writers all write a script, in the writing room, they come up with a concept, they pitch it to the network, yada, yada, and they write it. Then Ray gets it, and he “rectifies” the script, right? The themes and the moments and he takes so much away like “that’s all subtext, subtext”. So he develops the scripts, and then we usually get the material the night before. So you can’t really memorize. And sometimes you have these 6-page things, especially my character in Season 3, has these monologues, like the truck, and therapy. And literally we’re doing, like, rewrites at lunch on this stuff.
So then you go sit with Ray and you start talking it and reading it. And Ray being an actor, he starts immediately calibrating it. So to get to watch Ray work with material, and then kinda hear it and him talk it out is like being in an actor’s Master Class. And then you go to set, start shooting it, and in the camera you can manipulate things, and just start kinda fine tuning it and tweaking it. So it’s beautiful. He’s so hands on, it’s like working with an independent director.
And we have directors that come on every episode, obviously. But we’re very thankful for what Ray’s doing, in that there’s a singular vision. So there’s consistency in everything that we do.
There was a director in Season 2 who said I (Teddy’s character) came into the bedroom after confessing to Sheriff Daggett and I sit down on the edge of the bed and I say to her (Tawney) “I’m sorry about what happened earlier today.” After that take, the director goes “Next time, reach up and touch her leg”. And Ray was like “Whoa, whoa, whoa, no, no, no, no, no”. We stop and he goes “You can’t touch her yet. That’ll happen next episode”. He’s SO specific. And it’s beautiful as a result. He knows exactly what he wants, and he’s playing each little card so slowly. It’s wonderful.
O.F.F.: And likewise, you have been surrounded by a stellar, talented, and very well-suited cast. How have the experiences been working with them to this point?
C.C.: I think I’m the luckiest actor on set because I get to work with everyone. Teddy has interaction with everyone from Senator, to the Sherriff, to Mom, Dad, Jared, Daniel, Amantha, Tawney, I get to work with every single regular on set. So for me it’s a real treat. We’re all so grateful for the material, for the opportunity, that’s there’s no ego on set. So we all just kind of huddle around together with Ray and work it out. And as actors, we’re comfortable just communicating with one another if something works or doesn’t work, and no one gets their feelings hurt. I’ve never seen it before.
O.F.F.: What message would you like to say to existing fans of the show and then, secondly, to those who have yet to have tried it out?
C.C.: Um. I don’t know. Thank you to the one percentile of intelligent group out there who actually “gets” our show! (Laughs) And then, you know, I don’t really know what to say to those who just can’t “get” it. Then again, I don’t understand how CBS dominates the ratings either, so I just don’t know what to say to the masses. (Laughs) I mean, I’d love to say “Give an episode a try”, but I live in small town Alabama, which is Middle America, and my own family, who loves me dearly, they could care less about the show. And they love me. So that tiny group that also enjoys NPR—thank you! You know? We’re all on the same page! (Laughs)
And I watch it as a fan, too, because I’m not there for so much of the stuff, the little side stories. And then I try to watch “Game of Thrones”, and I’m like “This is a soap opera”. So I think it goes back to what we were saying before—it’s on the page, man. It’s like reading Faulkner. “This is a novel! And they’re going to shoot this?? They’re going to let this be on television?? Get outta here! I’m in”! And then you’re like “Sundance Channel is doing a show for the first time ever?? I’m IN!! I’ll give it a shot! I wanna stay working with you guys”! I’m fulfilled right now, I’m happy every day. It’s the perfect balance, man, independent film to TV show.
O.F.F.: And it was great news to hear the show has been officially renewed for a 4th Season! Is that correct?
C.C.: They (Sundance Channel) did it, like, two weeks before the show even premiered. So we were laughing, just to say “We don’t care what happens, we just don’t care, know we’re going again”. It’s just classy, man, you know? It’s “Look man, this is how we do it, we don’t care if you “get” it or not”. (Laughs)
There it is straight from this Alabama boy’s mouth to my ears to this page! Fulfilled and happy and most certainly looking to continue this amazing adventure that is “Rectify”! And most certainly to the existing fans of the show, we look forward to seeing this incredible progression that Teddy Talbot, Jr. is going through keep unfolding. And knowing the show is coming back for another round, who’s to say what’s in store for Clayne and company! So, fans, spread the word and let others know to hit up Netflix and other streaming services to catch Seasons 1 & 2 so you can then catch Season 3 and be in the know about “Rectify”! In the meantime, want to find out more about the show or keep up on what’s been going on? Check out these resources:
“Follow” the show’s Twitter account: here
“Like” the show’s Facebook Page: here
Check out the show’s website: here
As always, I extend my deepest “Thank you!!” to Clayne Crawford for taking the time to do this interview! Ideally, more “snapshots” are on the horizon as we continue to help promote awareness of this truly incredible, independent television drama. Until next time, thank you for reading!