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Awake Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

Awake

This is an interview with Laura Allen and Dylan Minnette on March 13, 2012 about the show Awake.

Question:
Can you both just kind of talk about how you started working on the show?

Laura Alleny:
It was actually about a year ago almost exactly that I first read the script and was really taken by the premise now that the public has seen the first episode as well. So all we had was the pilot episode and I knew Kyle from Lonestar, just his name and his blog. If you ever read it, it's hilarious and then Howard Gordon from 24. So I was excited to go in and in the audition process Jason was very involved and so we all met about a year ago.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes it was the same thing for me. At the time I was auditioning for pilots and I got the breakdown for Awake and as soon as I read the synopsis for the pilot I thought to myself if this show doesn't get picked up I don't what will because it sounded so cool. I read the script and I thought it was really, really cool and then when I went to the audition just like Laura said, Jason was there and so was Kyle and everyone was in there. And it actually was a pretty quick process to get to the end result, but we all met about a year ago and exactly of course that I had the same experience pretty much.

Question:
Can you both talk a bit about how your character and relationship with Britten evolved as his realities change?

Laura Alleny:
I think if I could speak for Hannah, he and I are really not adapting to the situation obviously at the same rate. And the question that I'm constantly asking in portraying Hannah is he on board with me, are we grieving together, are we moving forward together, can we connect over this loss of Rex.

And in the grieving process there's so many times things that Hannah learns about herself, learns about Rex when he was alive that almost keeps him alive for her. So in that sense, I think she and Michael because Michael experiences him very much alive can connect over that. But she evolves in a different way because she's sort of bittersweet and has the memory of Rex where he's very actively involved in Rex's life. So we're becoming very more divergent and still yet trying to move forward together so it's very interesting.

Dylan Minnette:
Right. I think for Rex it's a little different because he's in a different situation than Hannah where Michael is his dad and he's always telling him what to do and he's adamant about things. So I don't think he really thinks about his dad missing his mom as much as he does. But Rex really keeps it to himself because he doesn't want his dad to see what he really feels about it. And he opens up to him sometimes, but it's really hard for him to do that because he was really close with his mom.

But Rex kind of evolves with Michael. You'll see because Michael's doing his best to feel close to Rex, and you'll see things throughout the season where Rex gets closer to him or just farther away. And it's a cool little ride that you can follow with each character and the entire cast. I think it's really cool.

Question:
What kind of reaction have you gotten from people that come up to you about the show and on Twitter?

Laura Alleny:
I had a friend at lunch yesterday who was like okay now that we're alone can you tell me are you alive or are you dead. Of course, I don't know. And I'm glad not to know.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes I'm glad not to know.

Laura Alleny:
I'm glad not to know.

Dylan Minnette:
I'm just as much of a fan as everybody is of watching it. I'm excited to get a new script and if I knew the end result of the entire show I'd think I'd just be disappointed. It wouldn't be a special.

Laura Alleny:
I agree.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes. But nobody's ever stopped me on the street yet or anything and I think the funny thing that I see on Twitter is those people that just kind of at first don't understand what they're watching like they just tuned in for a few minutes or something. They'll be like wait, wait, wait. So I'm confused. Which one is supposed to be dead and alive. And I just never answer. I just say, ???I can't.???

Laura Alleny:
And yet I feel like it's the kind of show that you can catch an episode and you don't need to have seen the pilot, you don't need to have seen the second one. You can skip to four or eight and it's a self-contained story in itself. I mean once you get past the premise which is very understandable. I think now that people are actually watching it on television they do get it. They get that he goes to sleep and he wakes up to somebody else and so each episode has its own crime solving and the therapy I think is really narrative in helping describe what he's going through. And then he's got us on both sides too. So yes people can catch on even now.

Question:
Last week's episode gave us some insight regarding the accident and who was behind it. Can you both talk about the accident and what it was like filming that brutal scene?

Dylan Minnette:
Filming the car accident scene itself was fun. Laura and I know just as much about behind the accident as everyone does as though watching. But filming the car accident scene itself was a lot of fun because we actually got to do it. It was like a really cool thing we got to when the car spun upside down and it was a lot of fun. It was really fast and exhilarating.

Laura Alleny:
Yes. It's called a gimbal and a lot of actors are familiar with it. But it's a rotating device so you're in the body of a car and it spins on itself over and over and over again, and there's debris flying, and your hair is flying, and you're screaming and there's not a lot of acting because it really is kind of off putting at first but nobody got sick. I think there was some bits of plastic glass flying and stuff.

Dylan Minnette:
I think we all had fun. I remember I was watching the first time like you and Jason did it and Jason was just like whoo let's do it again.

Laura Alleny:
Kind of like a ride. Yes if it weren't' for the blood, I would have brought my son to work that day. I think he would have liked that.

Question:
Last week we got to see your perspectives outside of Michael's, having your own moments. Do we see more of that as the season goes along?

Laura Alleny:Dylan Minnette:
Right and I felt the same way. Like after we did the pilot and before we got the next script that actually got picked up and everything, I thought to myself well every single one of my scenes is going to be with Jason. So there's no other way that they can do that. And then I got the next script I just says like I was proven wrong. I don't know what's going on here. But actually we found out about the theory and I've learned more. And like you asked yes, you will see some more of that this season and I guess it's Kyle Killeen. He's brilliant so there's always a reason behind something, you know. So that's what I think.

Question:
Laura, Hannah told Michael at one point she said something like to tell Rex that I love him. But through most of the show she's kind of against this and doesn't want to hear it because obviously it hurts her. Is there going to be anymore mention of that or is Michael just kind of going to keep it from her so he doesn't upset her?

Laura Alleny:
I think it's a really sensitive topic between the two of them and earlier on also in the pilot we talked about his dreaming and it's really upsetting because he's got these dreams going that I feel are really preventing him from coping with the loss of Rex. And so I'm glad he's in therapy. He's back at work. Really I just want him to be with me to choose me. To be in my world but just be actively grieving with me and yet he kind of is in this delusion as I see it of living with Rex or knowing new information about Rex. So it causes such a rift in our relationship that I think he no longer opens up to me about it. And that brief moment where I say, ???Tell him I love him,??? I think Hannah is really willing to momentarily feel like all right if you do experience him in your dreams let him know what I can't tell him, you know.

But we kind of avoid it from this point forward. I mean I feel like the other shoe will drop again, but from this point forward he tries to keep - just like he's doing at work. I mean he wants to appear to be a sane person.

Dylan Minnette:
And Rex has no idea about the dreams.

Laura Alleny:
Right.

Dylan Minnette:
I think Michael feels a little comfortable with Hannah, a little closer to her and they're not having issues, but they're just having some troubles of communicating with each other after losing Hannah, I think that him telling Rex about the dreams would be the wrong thing to do. So that will probably get brought up in the future too, but Rex doesn't know and he thinks that that's not the right thing to tell Rex just yet.

Question:
I was wondering about the extra challenge for you both as actors feeling like you're supposed to feel something that you see being contradicted in another reality?

Dylan Minnette:
The scenes in a script are labeled with a G or an R for green or red so you know where you are at all times. But I should have something that like there's an awesome. I'm such a big fan of the show and the story that I wait by the door for the next script to get there so there's no way I'm not going to read the whole thing. That's just for me but no, I read the whole thing so.

Laura Alleny:
When you say contradictory, you mean feel things that are contradiction in other words grieving for Rex when Rex is actually alive in his world?

Question:
Yes.

Laura Alleny:
It's true I do kind of deny that reality in my own acting. I mean I feel like I have to completely believe in what Hannah believes in and so I don't take into account that he's in school, and taking tennis lessons, and the whole bit. I really just play it like he was upside down in that car and he's dead and Michael and I have to move forward from here.

Question:
Did you have the opportunity to work on any scenes in the future where we're going to see other flashbacks?

Laura Alleny:
Yes. It was always throughout the shooting of these first episodes like are they going to do it, are they going to do it because you're getting older and we can't really flashback if you're looking like you're. old.

Dylan Minnette:
If they flashback to the accident, they better do it in season 1 or else I'm going to be like 20 by the time the story go back or something, you know.

Laura Alleny:
But I think we were pleasantly surprised by the end of the season that we do get to work together a little bit.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes.

Laura Alleny:
That's all I can say.

Question:
Laura, how would compare Hannah to Katie?

Laura Alleny:
Katie was a bit trying to get her boyfriend to grow up, and get married, and move forward. And actually maybe that's what they have in common is like just wanting to get on board with this relationship and be together.

But Terriers, there's a lightness and a humor to it and Awake I think has so much resonance and I'm a mother of a teenager and I suddenly had to grow up a little bit in a year. But I'm loving the dual reality of Awake and working with Jason and we've got such an amazing cast on the show. It's also my first foray really into network television so it's exciting to be on NBC and reach a wider audience.

Question:
Now the first two episodes have been intense, so what can you both tell us about the upcoming episodes?

Dylan Minnette:
They're just as intense.

Laura Alleny:
This is Dylan's episode. I'm real excited for it.

Dylan Minnette:
It's actually really intense. It's very exciting. The next episode "Guilty" where I guess I can sort of say now, because they've shown it in the previews there's clips online and stuff where an escaped convict from Michael's past kind of is trying to get back at Michael to prove to him that he's innocent, and he finds Rex and takes him, and Michael is on this race to find him in one reality. And then he goes to the other reality to try find clues, and it's just really cool, exhilarating episode, the third one.

And I think that people continue to be like, "Wow, this show is not losing momentum yet." Or it won't. It won't. But I have no idea why I said that. But you know how skeptical viewers are they watch and that's the way they think. That's why I said that.

Laura Alleny:
It really is an action-packed episode, I think, and we already are sympathetic to Michael's schizophrenia, he could possibly be losing his son twice now. And I think that any sense of guilt he has over the accident is just compounded by perhaps losing him again, devastating. And Hannah in the meantime has to speak in front of a group at the memorial for Rex, and so she has to give a speech, and I think that that's a bit uncomfortable for her, because really her momentum, it has kicked in and she's repainting the house and wanting to move forward and move on. And she slows down in this episode to take a moment to remember Rex. And she doesn't usually take that time, and a lot catches her by surprise.

Dylan Minnette:
And I have to say, Laura, that theme with your speech turned out great.

Laura Alleny:
Oh, thank you. It really was like giving a speech in front of a bunch of people, because I was.

Dylan Minnette:
Wow.

Question:
Laura, in the pilot we kind of see you almost asking whether or not it's time to move on and maybe try for another child. Is that something that we're going to continue to explore?

Laura Alleny:
The desire for a child is something Hannah has not let go of, and yet Michael says "Let's hold off for a minute. Let's make sure that we are dealing with all of our issues first." And so the pursuit of law school in Oregon and moving forward is really Hannah's focus at this point, but losing a child and she's somewhat young enough still to really do it now and trying to get him I think - I don't know. Losing a child it just biologically probably kicks in to want to not replace it, but continue on with your mothering instinct. So it's very much alive in her, I'd say.

Question:
Dylan,we saw like this little acknowledgment that Laura's character made that her husband still sees you in his dreams, but are we going to see that in reverse where kind of he acknowledges that his mother's on the other side of his dad dreams?

Dylan Minnette:
I'll have to say no. I think that Michael just thinks that that's not the right thing to tell Rex, especially when Rex is kind of standoffish of him, because Rex was really close with his mom, and he's actually deeply affected by the loss, whether he shows it or not. He just doesn't show it to his dad.

Really he shows it to his tennis coach in Terra, but Michael knows that they're having struggles with really feeling close to one another, so I think that Michael just feels like that's not the right thing to tell Rex if he wants to become closer to him, because that would just push Rex away even more. Rex thinks his dad is crazy, and because Rex opens up to Michael sometimes and Michael knows that he's really grieving deep down over losing his mom, that would just probably mess up things more. But he doesn't know. I think it's a risk that he could take in the future, but just not any time in the beginning, no.

Question:
Dylan, you've now played two different roles of a son that we're not sure if he exists or not. Can you kind of compare "Awake" with your role on "Lost" and kind of the different challenges you've faced?

Dylan Minnette:
What's different for me was my role on Lost, with that show, I didn't get every episode of the season because I was only in a few episodes. But on this, I know everything that's going on. I know that there's one world that's real, one world that's not, but in that one especially when I did my first episode of "Lost," I hadn't watched it yet, and I didn't know what was going on. I seriously was convinced that what I was doing was a flashback.

So as far as I knew, I was alive, and then after I did my first episode of that, I bought the first season while I was in Hawaii filming it, and when I went back for the like later episode of that season, I'd already watched three seasons, and started meeting everyone and I was like dying on the inside when I met everyone.

But in the end, I didn't know that I didn't exist - once I started watching the sixth season, I knew that I did or did not exist, but in the finale, I didn't get that entire script, because it was so secretive. So when I was watching it on TV, I was like, "Oh, I'm not real. Wow." And then I didn't know till I watched it, and then - but whereas with "Awake," I know that there's a possibility of me being dead or alive. I mean obviously to have to play it like you're alive. And you have to play it like you have no idea, but that was the difference. With that I had idea, but with this I knew that there was something fishy going on. So they're a little different ways you can think about it while you're acting.

Laura Alleny:
What's it going to be like for you or for me to find out that all this time, we've been dead, or for Cherry or for BD?

Dylan Minnette:
It's going to be so cool.

Laura Alleny:
It's going to be bizarre.

Dylan Minnette:
I like it, really cool. I've been through it once like with "Lost," when I found out I was just like dead. I was like that's actually really cool. So whenever we find out the result, I don't know, I think I'll just be like, "Wow, that's so awesome."

Question:
What do you guys take away as far as both of you carrying some of the emotional part of the show?

Laura Alleny:
I feel so privileged to get to tell this story. That's the kind of television I like to watch, I mean, is the emotional part. So it's a big responsibility and yet I feel connected to mothers and people who've suffered any kind of loss in this role. And so it's an honor, I feel. Although there are days I wish I could be the police precinct just shuffling paperwork.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes.

Laura Alleny:
But you don't.

Dylan Minnette:
I literally have the exact same answer, so if I were to answer, I'd just be wasting time and end up saying the same thing as you. So I'd say the same thing.

Laura Alleny:
What is also so interesting too about grief is that there are really light moments and beautiful like life-affirming moments in acknowledging suffering and sharing it with other people. I mean I've experienced that this season playing Hannah, and so, yes, like I said, it's an honor as an artist to get to tell that story.

Dylan Minnette:
Definitely, definitely.

Question:
Do we ever get to see either of your characters meeting the respected psychologists?

Dylan Minnette:
I don't want to give it away by saying yes or no.

Laura Alleny:
We might have to pass on that question.

Dylan Minnette:
I don't know. I guess I'll just have to pass.

Question:
Is there anything that the both of you would really like to see your character experience on the show, like if you could write it?

Dylan Minnette:
I'd like to see how Rex would react to finding out about the dreams. That just for me, that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

Laura Alleny:
I look forward to that he has full disclosure with me about his dreams, like full but I like that they kind of tease us with it and don't. We've got a ways still to go with this story.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes. I mean throughout the long run, As other things are brought up, I'll think of a lot more things of, "Man, I'd like to see this happen." And I do have a lot of those, but most of the things that I could say are things that would give stuff away, because when I spark up things that I'd like to see happen, it's after other twists are brought up.

Question:
Are there any specific guest stars you'd like to see on the show?

Dylan Minnette:
Laura Innes is really cool. She's great and she also directed an episode and she was awesome to direct an episode with her, have her direct one of the episodes I was in.

Laura Alleny:
Yes towards the end.

Dylan Minnette:
I think Laura that's really cool that she was on the show especially when I found out about it. That was really, really cool.

Question:
What's your takes on the individual psychologists and their different methods in terms of as it respects to your characters and how Michael will be able to I guess get through this?

Dylan Minnette:
I feel like with Dr. Lee in Hannah's world he is very adamant and he knows that Hannah's alive and that there's no chance of living in another world and Rex being alive. And Dr. Evans who's in the reality that I'm alive in I think that she also feels the same way. Like deep down she knows that reality is real and that Hannah's not alive but she's more open to the idea of what Michael is experiencing. So that's the two different things about them that how adamant Dr. Lee is and how Dr. Evans is just more open to the idea. That's my take on them.

Laura Alleny:
I feel like even though their approaches are so different they are equally convincing and I love seeing brief moments where they affect him and they persuade him and he goes into his world a bit more panicky at thinking he really has lost Rex or he really has lost Hannah. And so whether it's Dr. Lee being logical and forceful or if it's Dr. Evans who's being nurturing and encouraging, I think they're both threatening too.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes and I think honestly one of my favorite themes in the pilot was when Dr. Lee made a good point about why reality is real and Dr. Evans had him read a page from the Constitution, why would you do that? He's so scared to go to bed and wake up thinking up you're going to be gone. And then he wakes up without the rubber band and he freaks out. Every time I watch that I just like get the chills because I think that's so cool how much a little thing one of them says will affect him.

Laura Alleny:
In the original script Dr. Lee had a retort to that also. He said, "Look there is so much that your mind can contain that you don't even realize that you might have the whole Constitution memorized but you don't know it, it's all in your subconscious. So how do you know that you don't have it word for word verbatim?" I love that.

Dylan Minnette:
Right if they can just throw things back at each other that makes one seem real the other, it's just like this giant game that they play.

Question:
Between the two of you just as pure actors and friends on the set, are either of you kind of rooting for one or the other as far as being the one that's alive?

Dylan Minnette:
I'm not. I think the purpose of the show it's not for Michael to find out who's alive, who's dead, it's Michael like struggling and trying his best to keep both of them alive because he is so scared to lose one that I think throughout the show the viewers and as the actors ourselves are just going along for the ride with Michael and that's the purpose of the show is to go along for the ride and hope that both are alive. And I think I'm not.

I like the two alternate realities and I know that in the end we'll have the end result and I know we'll get there and I'm just going to kind of - I just kind of like not knowing, it's going along and I'm not rooting for one or the other really. I don't know about you Laura but I'm not.

Laura Alleny:
I think it's like the anti rooting it's like we are on Michael's journey and if anything we're rooting against the therapists who are disproving one reality over the other. I think he's just trying to keep it together and be good at his job and have a fulfilling meaningful relationship with both his wife and his son.

Question:
Can you just talk a bit about acting alongside Jason Isaacs on the show?

Dylan Minnette:
Jason is he's amazing. He's an incredible actor and especially as a young guy, right, I'm a male, just learning from such a great older male actor like that every day is really amazing and Jason can give me some great tips and I learned so much from him. And also he's just a really fun and funny guy. And no matter where he is he always has his iPod dock with him and he's always wearing his iPod and every day at work he can get the whole crew to just sing along to some 80s tunes and there's like stressful days where people are scrambling to get things done, Jason always knows how to set the mood right. He's just really fun to have around.

Laura Alleny:
He is and he's tireless. I mean, he goes from I don't know 5 am to at least 11 o'clock at night and he's rewriting with us along the way. I mean, he never gets stuck in, he never phones it in ever and he's got the full range. I mean, with me he has to do some really sensitive and with you I'm sure too and he's father and so there's a lot that I think he just taps into naturally. But then he's got all this stunt work that I never get to see but I'm sure he's like crashing over walls and driving the car, and then he gets to sit in the therapist's office and use existential conversations. No, I delight in him and I too am learning a lot just watching him and his humor is so wonderful for all of us on set and the crew adores him too.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes. There's something about Jason, it's just like he's the full package when it comes to acting and just working with him. It's great, it's really great.

Laura Alleny:
And he's a friend, he's a good friend to all of us.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes.

Question:
You guys mentioned that there's a lot coming up you can't talk about it. Is there like anything that you're waiting for the fans to see that you can talk about without giving away specifically what it is but just kind of in a general manner?

Laura Alleny:
Yes.

Dylan Minnette:
You'll word it better than I do without giving something away.

Laura Alleny:
I'm excited for the penguin episode.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes.

Laura Alleny:
It's an episode called That's not my Penguin. I can't remember is it next week or two weeks from now?

Dylan Minnette:
I think it will be episode six now.

Laura Alleny:
Episode six yes. Because it introduces a whole new color to his dreaming. I don't mean literally red or green, I just mean there's a new dimension to what this man can dream about.

Dylan Minnette:
Yes that episode is one I'm really particularly excited for. There's multiple episodes that I'm really particularly excited for everybody to see but that's the first one that I'm like, "Oh my God, I just want people to see this one now." But that one's really cool. And then towards the end of the season there's just things that get brought up left and right that just I can't wait for everyone to see. I wish they could do a marathon where they just aired it all now.

Laura Alleny:
I know.

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