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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview that took place on June 16, 2014 with Chyler Leigh and Jacky Ido and Gary Scott Thompson from Taxi Brooklyn.

Taxi Brooklyn

Question:
I know this series is at least somewhat based on a French film series, but how did it actually come about as a television series?

Jacky Ido:
You're on, Gary.

Gary Scott Thompson:
Thanks, Jacky. The show is based on a series of four films which were extremely, extremely popular in Europe and around the world. And it was one of Luc Benson's projects that he wanted to turn into a TV show. And so after many, many sort of incarnations that they had tried to make it work, someone from over there at the other side of New York and Brooklyn. And that's kind of where it started with. So it sort of departs because in a series there were two males, a confident taxi driver and this female cop and the male taxi driver, and then we've got a lot of twists and turns along the way that are not in the movie. So it's just sort of a jumping off point.

Question:
What was the biggest challenge you faced in making the series?

Chyler Leigh:
Biggest challenge was to stop laughing all the time. I think we had such a good time that it was a little challenging for the directors to reign us back in and then take everything we were doing seriously.

Jacky Ido:
You know, the biggest challenge as Chyler just so eloquently put it. It was we kept laughing all the time. The crew is amazing. We had so much fun shooting in New York City. And for me, coming all the way from France, it was just a treat everyday, more of an enjoyment than a challenge.

Question:
First question is for Chyler. How would you describe Cat?

Chyler Leigh:
I'm sorry I'm laughing because I'm thinking how much trouble everybody is in to have all three of us on the line together. Cat is a ??? when we meet her, Cat is in a very hard place in her life and you come to understand that, you know, she's a very kind of tough talking but conflicted person who's, at this point, very reckless due to what she's been through with her family. And so she's very determined. She's very hardworking. She takes what she does very seriously. But has become a bit impassioned to find what's going on or what happened in her past, and at this point, has pretty much pushed everybody away in her life, and is a bit disgruntled. But you can see throughout the, you know, the season that she's, you know, she does have that vulnerable side to her that's to kind of keeps those walls up. But you see that she definitely knows how to kick some serious ass.

Question:
Jacky, how is that relationship between Cat and Leo in the beginning? And how does it evolve?

Jacky Ido:
Well, they're in ??? the relationship ??? the relationship is kind of tense in the beginning because, you know, she's suspected of helping someone in a bank heist. So they started like this little tension between them but also friendship that you can see developing there. And also they need each other because they can't ??? together they complete themselves or they complete each other. And they kind of become like the super cop, you know, to solve all the cases.

So the relationship in the beginning, you know, is quite tense and then quite quickly it evolves to be ??? becoming something, you know, of a ??? sometimes you can say the cat and dog or sister-brother kind of relationship, maybe even, you know, like a little bit of strange kind of relationship. So it's interesting that to see how it kind of evolves.

Question:
Gary, you talked about the fact that this is based on the four films. So I've got two questions. And one is about what are the challenges in turning a feature film franchise into a TV series? Is it not a challenge because you have free reigns as a writer for the show?

Gary Scott Thompson:
I think the biggest challenge is actually not alienating the original audience because they're expecting one thing but when you go from one medium to the next, things don't always translate. The movies themselves are extremely broad. And to do an hour drama that's broad will not work on TV. You can't be that broad as it is. And it has to be really, at least, touch upon a reality base. And so I think that's the biggest ??? the biggest problem. Anytime you ??? anytime you transfer anything, whether it's a novel or anything that you go back and forth between mediums, does not alienate the original audience and that you still have to try and get a new audience as well.

Question:
Did Luc have any hands on this at all? Did you have to let him see scripts or let him have input?

Gary Scott Thompson:
Luc has a hand in everything. He may not say he does, but he, saw our cuts, he was there are the very beginning. I sat down with him here actually in L.A. when he was here at one point before we ever started shooting to look over storyboard. And then when I was in Paris doing the editing, he was, you know, always a presence. And you know, he gives us ??? he gives us opinions, suggestions as to what he wants and doesn't want or what works and doesn't work.

Question:
Chyler, I loved you a lot in Grey's and I hate to go back to that but can you tell me what did Grey's do for your career, Grey's Anatomy?

Chyler Leigh:
Well, I mean, number one, it gave me more exposure than I'd had, you know, previously. It was actually my first series that I got past 13 episodes. So that was ??? that was pretty amaze ??? it was a big champagne toast for that one. But, you know, I think it just ??? it helps me really be able to have a good amount of time to develop the character and to see a character, you know, really progress a really true story arc from start to finish. I mean five seasons was a really in a ??? a really cool evolution to see all the different things that Lexie had gone through and how she responded and just pretty much how she grew up.

And I grew up a lot with her, you know, throughout the process. And I feel very, very proud of all the work. And I think it just gave me a great sense of being able to sort of see something start to finish, at least from my own perspective. I think being on TV sometimes is a little hard when you don't get to see exactly where everything goes. But I did get to end with some good closure. And I think it gave me good advantage moving forward.

Question:
Moving forward, how is the show different for you as an actress?

Chyler Leigh:
Well, it is incredibly challenging in a lot of ways, you know, as far as like physically challenging, it definitely pushed me further than I had been. And I think just from a creative standpoint, I feel like I really hit a great stride into ??? in stepping into a character that I have never played anything like it before. You know, I've always kind of been, you know, quirky, smart, witty kind of character. And then to be able to step into something like this was really exciting for me, and scary. But, you know, overall exciting.

Question:
Jacky, how does it feel to be on a TV series?

Jacky Ido:
Actually it feels amazing because I've been wanting to do ??? to portray a character on a TV show because it gives you a much more ??? much more latitude to explore the character and grow with him. So I was excited, you know, respective of playing Leo.

Question:
And, Chyler, just one more thing, did you cut your hair after Grey's or for this show? Or did the short hair had nothing with either?

Chyler Leigh:
Yes. The short hair ??? you know, I cut my hair about a month after Grey's job sort of as my own sort of, you know, symbolic moment of moving forward and just trying something that I've wanted to try forever and never really had the guts to do it. And now I had some free time to be able to explore and I did. Boy, I chopped a lot of hair off. I love it.

Gary Scott Thompson:
And then I chopped more of her hair off.

Chyler Leigh:
He did. Yes.

Question:
Did you want it short for this role, for her to look like that?

Gary Scott Thompson:
I did. It made sense to the character. And I wanted her to be so far from Lexie as well. Because the characters, they're different. And I wanted her to actually feel typically different from Lexie and so she could just go because it's very physical. And she was doing a lot of running and shooting and driving and sending her all through the streets of New York. So it's a very, very different character than Lexie.

Question:
Well, the two of you have great chemistry. But I'll let other people ask some questions and circle back on that later if we can. It's really fun. Thank you so much. S

Question:
Hi, thank you. I would like to ask, how does the series reflect the point of view of the main characters?

Jacky Ido:
Yes, yes, yes. I was contacted by Luc Besson. And he told me about the project, that they were going to shoot a TV show in New York so I was really excited about this. And later on, we met at a ??? with Gary and you know, we had auditions. And that's how it is ??? that's how I came on the project.

Chyler Leigh:
And for myself, it was ??? I got a phone call from my manager who knows Gary very well and had been approached, you know, by Gary about coming on board and just getting myself about the project. And I read it and it scared the life out of me. And I loved it. And so, you know, after that it was a conversation with Gary kind of just going over, you know, everything and talking about this kind of series and what it would involve. And that was kind of ??? that was sort of it, sort of went from there. It all happened very, very quickly. S

Question:
Who's the better driver?

Chyler Leigh:
Hands down, that's me.

Jacky Ido:
That would be Chyler. I give it to her. She's a crazy driver. Compared to me, I'm a grandfather with a wheel.

Question:
My question is for Chyler. You said that she's kick ass and this is really challenging. So can you talk about just preparing yourself both physically and mentally to take on this kind of character?

Chyler Leigh:
Well, you know, as I mentioned this, it all happened very quickly. It was only a matter of weeks before actually signing on to the project and then filming. So, you know, I had luckily, you know, been keeping active and what-not. So I had, you know, a good basis, you know, but just stepping into something that's physically challenging as this, I mean obviously when you walk into a project like this because obviously there's this stunt, you know, you have stunt people that come in and help do the things that we can't.

You know, if it's from an insurance standpoint or just physically do, like that's what they're there for. And so, luckily, they have brought on a girl who's fantastic, who stepped in a lot ways for me, you know, when needed. But as ??? so from a physical standpoint, there wasn't a whole lot of time beforehand to prepare. But I feel like we caught up pretty quickly, went to actually filming.

From a mental standpoint, I mean, I think just given what we do, you know, it's a very schizophrenic business. So we just have to ??? just kind of jump from one person to the next, different personalities. And so for me, it was just trying to get my mind in the game of playing something different but also tapping into areas of my own life that maybe I don't exercise often which is that, you know, aggression. I'm a very easy-going person that's just sort of fun-loving, and whatnot so ??? I tried to bring those aspects into the character that was already rooted in a ??? in a, I want to say darker place. But I guess that would be the easiest way of explaining it.

Question:
Hi. Chyler, you have done both serious drama and comedy. Do you have a preference?

Chyler Leigh:
You know, I think it's just project by project basis. I mean, look you get down to like the sitcom world which is I think, you know, it isn't a dream job just because of the scheduling fact, you know. It's just like you kind of weigh it out from the character standpoint which you love most and then obviously what makes the most sense from the schedule. So I'm being very broad with the way I'm answering because I'm on a comedy-drama right now. But I think, you know, it's whatever excites me as most interesting from a character standpoint.

Question:
And, Jacky, you had a successful international film career, what inspired to make the change now, to doing an American television comedy?

Jacky Ido:
My answer would be very simple. It's Leo Romba, the character was just so amazing when I first got this script, started reading about him. In so many aspects of it, like, you know, he's like me. He's ??? I love his sense of humor, his sense of ??? he's a life-loving guy. He has like a second chance in New York that he seizes treasure.

And to be able to portray someone who loves life to this extent, and also someone who, like me, have experienced being a viewer in Europe but growing up in Europe watching television, American cop shows that were dubbed in French, and then being projected in that kind of universe that was a stereotypical ??? the characters, the archetype you find in the cop shows, that's a dream for us, of French viewers being in the middle ??? in the midst of that and taking part in those, you know, in solving those cases. So it was something that I couldn't just go from. It was something that I really wanted to do.

Question:
Jacky, does Leo's cab have the modifications and gadgets, the taxis in the films had?

Jacky Ido:
No, that's something that is something Leo doesn't have. You can ??? you can tell that even a much more subtle driver. You don't have all the gags and the gadgets, the James Bond gadgets that are there had in the original feature. But you can tell that he has a super charger which is for those who love automotive engines. It's something that the connoisseurs know. So he did pimp his ride. He did a little bit of work on his car but in much more subtle.

Question:
Now did you get to do any actual driving in your role, either of you?

Jacky Ido:
Very little. I had a stunt driver doubling for me who's amazing. He's like Michael Jordan with a wheel. He's incredible. So, yes, I took a lot of pleasure just to standing on the side and watching him perform some of my stunts.

Question:
How about you, Chyler?

Chyler Leigh:
I tried to take on as much as they would let me. I wasn't allowed very much. So ??? but I ??? no, again, same thing. I had wonderful stunt people that were ??? that were working with us and took over the wheel. But I tried to get away with as much as I possibly could. I think I scared people a few times which was really my ultimate goal. I feel like I hit that very well.

Question:
And which city has the most reckless cab drivers? New York or Paris?

Chyler Leigh:
That's a good question.

Jacky Ido:
That's a tough question. But, Chyler, you've been here. You know.

Chyler Leigh:
Yes. This is true.

Jacky Ido:
Well, I would say Paris. Yes, Paris, especially in the neighborhood where I grew up in the French voilier. We have reckless car drivers here. Most of them don't even have a license. That's who I learn from.

Question:
Gary, I understand that season one already air on TF1 in France?

Gary Scott Thompson:
Yes.

Question:
What's been the feedback either that you've heard or, Jacky, maybe that you heard about the first season so far?

Gary Scott Thompson:
Considerably well. And you know, we're working on a season two at this point. The problem is we've been writing scripts in outlines and trying to figure out what works and what didn't work for the French audience and trying to tailor-make a ??? tailor-make a season two for that audience. The ??? the ??? the TF1 version in Europe was in a very different ??? TF1's are much longer and has added material to it. And so in some cases, we had to cut as much as 15 minutes out of episodes to set the U.S. broadcast standard times as well as practice and, you know, different rules in both countries. So it's almost like we made two different shows. There's sub plots that have been taken out of the U.S. one and sub plots have been put back in to make it a coherent flow of 12 episodes that's, you know, very different than the French version.

Question:
So it sounds like it's a bit of a challenge then for you and the editing suite then, isn't it?

Gary Scott Thompson:
Yes, I'm still editing for them as ??? for the U.S. broadcast. And, yes, it's challenging. But the thing was we knew what's going in and we would talk everyday on the set. I would tell Jacky and Chyler, you know, can't play this in ??? on American TV so we need the, you know, the version where we can play certain things. And so they were ??? they were very well aware about everything that's going on and knew that there was a different timing and a different, you know, standards and practice that. And so we were fortunate that the bones of the U.S. broadcast that was in the French version of it. And I knew all along the piece of it that needs to be cut in order to make those episodes work.

Question:
Thank you. Gary, was the chemistry that's instantly apparent between these two?

Gary Scott Thompson:
Oh, my God. No, I had to beat it into them. It's not there.

Chyler Leigh:
That's so true.

Jacky Ido:
You wish. You wish.

Gary Scott Thompson:
Yes. What everyone doesn't kind of realize is we all came from some place else and met. And so we all met and have lost basically our fam ??? most of our families behind. And so we bonded very quickly, not only like the staff but as a crew and everyone working. And so we became very much a family and we'd go out to dinner and definitely have parties. And so it was ??? it was pretty quick.

And you know, that happens ??? doesn't always happen as well on shows but chemistry, but this one, you know, everyone, all the actors and all the crew. So we had a lot of fun on Friday nights, after we finish shooting, that we'd put on music and the crew and everyone would hang out and dance and fool around when most of them should have been going home to their families. So that's a little sort of how we, you know, quickly bonded.

But the chemistry was there at the beginning. We had done a couple of read-throughs and Jacky and Chyler and I sat down and talked about the characters and where they were going and what was going to happen. And then, you know, with each script, because I wanted them to be surprised as we went along playing the season of the script. They got more)information about their character, to read more about their character. So we had a lot of fun things to play with.

Question:
Chyler, how is Jacky?

Chyler Leigh:
Well, good God. He's in a category of his own, I'll just say that.

Question:
All right. Thank you.

Gary Scott Thompson:
Good answer, Chyler. Good answer.

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