What if the end of the world was coming, and it was the best thing to
ever happen to you?
That is the premise of British scribe Iain Hollands' new television
series You, Me and the Apocalypse, the story of a motley crew of
humans dealing with the announcement of a huge comet due to strike the
Earth in 34 days time.
The series (a co-production of the BBC and NBC-TV) takes place all
around the world and has an international cast which includes Jenna
Fisher (The Office), Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Mathew
Baynton (Yonderland), Gaia Scodellaro (Watch Them Fall),
Joel Fry (Game of Thrones), Diana Rigg (The Avengers) and
Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation).
Perhaps the biggest stray from type is having Rob Lowe Ė handsome star
of everything from St. Elmo's Fire to The West Wing to
Wayne's World to Parks and Recreation Ė playing a
chain-smoking, trash-talking priest. Lowe, who is also currently
starring in the title role of the FOX sitcom The Grinder, plays
Father Jude, a troubled man of the cloth in the midst of a crisis of
faith who is tasked with the burden of being a "Devil's advocate" Ė
searching the globe for miracles confirming the coming of the
Anti-Christ, as well as keeping his eye out for the second coming of the
week before You, Me and the Apocalypse had its US premiere, we
were one of small group of media outlets who were invited to talk with
Lowe and Hollands about their new show.
My first reaction is would our leaders be this
honest with us if the world were coming to an end? This is an
advertisement for not telling us whatís going on. If this were actually
happening, what should we do? Maybe being in the dark is a little bit
better. Look at how these poor people end up.
Iain probably can give the real answer, since he wrote it. But I always
thought they absolutely kept people in the dark in the world of the
show. Probably for a long time, they knew it was coming. Now when it got
to 30 days out, they were like, ďYou know what? At some point we have to
let them know.Ē I bet you they knew the world was ending for a lot
longer than 30 days. But if this any indication, I think ignorance is
I agree with Rob. And on a personal note, I would far rather not know
With 30 days left, what would be on your bucket
spent a good amount of time thinking about that during the show. There
may be a couple of things that youíd consider: Iíve never been to the
rain forests, or whatever. [But] When really faced with it, I would want
to do exactly what Iím doing, which would be work hard, be with my
family and live the life Iím living. It actually makes me feel really
good and satisfied about my life. Iím blessed. Itís all good, because I
donít feel like thereís a lot of stuff out there that I would feel like
I missed out on if it was all coming to an end.
How did this project come about for you?
was sent to me. The minute I read the first Father Jude scene, I knew I
was in. There arenít many scripts that grab you like this. Iain did such
a great job in terms of tone Ė of it being very, very dramatic and very,
very irreverent and witty, all at the same time. The character of Father
Jude in particular for me was a standout. Certainly nothing like
anything Iíd ever played before.
Youíve been acting for years, but this is the first
time that I can remember that you played a priest. Obviously, Father
Jude is very flawed and has his doubts about things. But as an actor,
did you have to find a different headspace to play that character? Did
you talk to any priests or anything to get ready for the role?
Well, it was a great excuse to do something that Iíve been putting off
forever, which was really, really, really spend some time reading the
bible cover to cover. Iíve read bits and pieces of it over the course of
my life, but Iíve never really sat down and taken it all in, in a
scholarly way. That was great, a great opportunity to do that. In terms
of playing a priest, for me, it was like: there are certain archetypes
that an actor should play before they move on. Cop, check. Cowboy,
check. President, check. Priest, check. Iím working my way down the list
Itís very rare that an actor gets the chance to have
major roles in two big series at the same time. How do you juggle the
time between this series and
The Grinder? And whatís it like to have both of
those going at the same time?
is really exciting. Two completely different characters in two
completely different types of shows on two networks at the same time, is
really an actorís dream. I would travel back and forth. Iíd do three
weeks in Europe on You, Me and the Apocalypse and then I would
fly back here and work on The Grinder. To be doing them both at
the same time was a challenge, but also really fun. Then we finished
Apocalypse in a time where I could then really do the meat of The
Grinder, which Iím still doing today. Iím actually on the set. Iím
on the set dressed as a Mexican busboy as we speak. (laughs)
Donít ask why The Grinder would be a Mexican busboy. You will find out.
Iain, you created such an incredible batch of
colorful characters. Is there one in particular that you really enjoy
writing for? And how do you balance them all?
Yes, itís a show with a lot of characters. We spend an awful lot of time
trying to structure it in a way which allows everyone to have some fun
with their character. I donít think I have one in particular. It depends
on what mood youíre in. Like if youíre in a foul mood, itís fun to write
Leanne (Megan Mullallyís white supremacist jailbird character). If
youíre in a pessimistic mood, itís often to better to write some of the
British characters. So I donít have one in particular. Writing Father
Jude was certainly a lot of fun because... on the surface, yes, okay, he
swears and he smokes and everything. But what was really interesting was
thereís real depth to him. You scratch the surface and heís a man that
really cares, and who has the real courage to take on hypocrisy. Okay,
he does it in a really irreverent way, but I love writing somebody that
really cared about their faith that much.
Thanks for writing an apocalyptic series that
doesnít have zombies.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Well, you know thatís
series two. No. Iím joking. Iím joking.
Rob, when I saw your character, I thought of Richard
The Thorn Birds.
Yes. Sort of... right. Yes, of course. Yes. Thatís right. Itís been a
while since we had that type of a priest on TV. Iím glad to bring it
Iain, is it easy to write for both British and
Yes. I mean, I donít think you consciously set out to do that. The only
thing you can really do is write something that you would enjoy
watching. The fact is now that we watch so much TV over here from
America, itís such a great period, thereís so many great shows around.
You kind of pick it up almost by osmosis. So, from that point of view,
it wasnít difficult. Itís like when youíre sitting down and reading
through the scripts with American actors. You can tell where youíve gone
wrong with the words they wouldnít use, or intonation that they wouldnít
do. But generally speaking, I think that British and American audiences
have more similarities then they have differences.
Iain, with the show being 30 days until the comet
collides with earth, if you get more than one season, how is that
timeline going to work? That seems like such a limited amount of time to
work with to do with a show like this.
Iím trying to think how to answer that without giving anything away.
Thereís definitely a possibility for it to return. Thereís a plan for
that to happen. But itís difficult for me to answer your question
without a massive spoiler alert. So just say that the end of the final
episode isnít necessarily the end.
As far as being the devilís advocate, what kind of
scenarios are we going to see you play?
Well, as the world unravels, the church teaches that would be not only
the time for the savior to return, but also the time for the antichrist
to return, if it is indeed the end of the world. When we realize it is
the end of the world, you need the devilís advocate to sort out and find
the antichrist, the real one, or the real savior. So heís a busy man. I
think up until the show opens with the announcement of the media, the
job of devilís advocate was probably not as exciting as it sounds. But
the minute the apocalypse is on us, all bets are off.
I loved watching you on
Parks and Rec playing Chris Traeger, the nicest guy in the world.
Whatís it been like going from playing a character like that to a devil
advocating, foul-mouthed priest?
Great is the answer. (Iain laughs) If I could design my career Ė
which we all try to and sometimes you can and sometimes you canít Ė it
would be going from one extreme to the other with each role. So, this
was the perfect tonic for me right after playing Chris, whoís such a
beloved character. People love [him] and I loved playing him. But I was
definitely ready to exercise my more... whatís the word Iím looking
for?... misanthropic muscles.
Megan [Mullally] is on the show as well, who was on
Parks and Rec. What do you think of her make-up? She looks completely
didnít recognize her, and Iíve known Megan since 1984. Sheís a
chameleon. Sheís an amazing actress. I think thatís no surprise.
Everybody knows what a stunning actress she is. When she was on Will
& Grace, people thought thatís who she was. Literally, they thought
that was. Then when she was on Parks and Rec as Tammy, she just
inhabits those characters. This is no different. I think even Megan
Mullally fans when they see her in this at first probably wonít even
realize itís her.
Yes. I have to say she was amazing. She was so brave. She was the one
that wanted to push it further and further and further. When you first
offer a part like that to an actress, youíre always kind of worried that
theyíre going to want to look amazing. She was the one [who] was like,
ďNo. No. No, I want the teeth. I want the hair. I want the full works.Ē
That was a really bold step for her to make.
Rhonda, Jenna Fischerís character, with her being in
prison, has a
Orange is the New Black feel to it. Can you talk a little
bit about her character?
Jenna Fischer plays Rhonda, who has been wrongly accused of a crime and
[is] in prison. Sheís a mild-mannered librarian, completely unable to
deal with life in prison. Then, weirdly luckily for her, the apocalypse
is coming. Thereís a huge prison break, in which she manages to get
away, which is fantastic news. But unfortunately, sheís lumbered with
Leanne, Megan Mullallyís character, whoís the kind of person that she
would in normal life cross the road to avoid. Their story is the story
of two women desperately trying to get across America to be with their
families before the end of the world.
What was it like to get Rob involved?
was absolutely amazing. It was on our wish list. Rob took a real gamble
on this, because itís a bunch of British people that he didnít know from
Adam. He had to come over to Europe to make it. Having him say yes to
that, I thought was a really bold move for him.
Rob, people think of lots of things when they think
of you. Your older roles.
West Wing on Netflix. The Grinder. Your
name triggers a lot of memories of TV shows and movies. But youíre also
a father. Youíve also done charity work. If the end of the world is
coming, Rob Lowe, who do you want to be remembered as?
Wow. Great question. Thanks. I would like to be thought of as a father
first. My two sons are amazing young men. Iím very proud of them. One of
them is on The Grinder now as a reoccurring actor, as heís
getting a 4.0 at Stanford. My other is graduating Duke and going to law
school. Theyíre great human beings. Thatís way more important than
anything Iíve ever done in my career. Then I just think that, as you
allude to, different people have different connections to me. Some are
recent. Some go back 30 years. It would be an incredible legacy to be
one of those people that has been in a relationship with an audience
their entire life time.
Beyond the bucket list idea mentioned earlier, what
would the two of you do if the end of the world was coming in the next
Iain, why donít you take this one? I want to hear what you want to do
Iíd probably have to make a My Name Is Earl-style list of all the
many people that Iíve irritated and done wrong by over the years and
start working my way through. I donít know how far Iíd get. But you know
Iíd hope to make it down to the end of page one, maybe.
Yes. For me, itís funny. I wouldnít want to quit my job if the end of
the world was coming. I understand: Why do it? No oneís going to be
around to see it. But, itís interesting. Iím not sure I would change
much about my life, other than I would make sure that I would get my
kids out of school and make them come home so we could all be together.
But, you know, I would keep on trucking.
Iain, when did this idea come to you?
first pitched it about five years ago. I wanted to write a show about
the apocalypse, but where the apocalypse was weirdly the best thing that
could have ever happened to all these characters. When you first meet
them, theyíre all trapped in some ways by their everyday worries. Then
weirdly, the knowledge that the worldís ending allows them to free
themselves from the things that have been holding them back. Just
concentrate on what really matters. That was my starting point. It took
a long time. Itís a British show, so to start it off, we had to get a
British network on board first. Then NBC came onboard later. It took
quite a while to get everything together.
Do you know any of the characters personally that
you wrote about?
havenít based any of the characters on anyone particularly. I think the
character of Jamie is probably the closest to me, in a very British way.
He dithers quite a lot. Heís not as proactive as Americans tend to be.
Tend to be you know very heroic and know what to do. Whereas, I would
just have no idea whatsoever in that situation what the best thing to do
would be. So, yes, heís probably the nearest to me.
If you could just bring out one message to all of
your fans and all of the viewers of the show, what message would that
Well, letís see. I would describe the show to the fans as a
boundary-pushing comedy drama. It presents the end of the world in a way
that youíve never seen before, through extraordinary drawn, interesting
characters, with plot twists that you will absolutely never see coming.
Rob, you mentioned earlier in this conversation you
had read the bible pretty much in its entirety, which you had not done
before. What did you get from it that you didnít know or understand
Well, honestly, every time I do any reading, Iím kind of struck with the
same thing, really. Other than if youíre looking for guidance, then
obviously you get different things from it depending on what youíre
looking to have answered. Overall, Iím just always struck with the
language. Itís so beautiful. Iím also struck with things like how many
common phrases we have in our everyday casual vernacular that come from
the bible. Youíre like, ďOh, thatís where that comes from?Ē Iím not
breaking any new ground when I say itís such a work of depth and
inspiration and beauty that Iím amazed each time I open it.
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