WARNING: This article contains content with themes suited for mature audiences.
Cape Town - Mrs. Fletcher, a new HBO series based on the bestselling novel by Tom Perrotta (The Leftovers, Little Children), is now streaming first on Showmax.
Included on Best of 2019 lists by the likes of GQ and Uproxx, Mrs. Fletcher is a dual coming-of-age story chronicling the personal and sexual journeys of an empty-nest mother and her college freshman son, who both embrace their newfound freedom with mixed results.
As Indiewire wrote after its premiere at Toronto International Film Festival last year, "I could watch 100 episodes of Mrs. Fletcher… A smart, thoughtful, and hopelessly addictive adaptation… Ultra-charming."
South African Liesl Tommy (Insecure, The Walking Dead, Jessica Jones) is part of the all-female directing team, which also includes Oscar nominee Nicole Holofcener (Orange Is The New Black), nine-time Emmy nominee Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia, Transparent) and Gillian Robespierre (Silicon Valley).
With Mrs. Fletcher having just been nominated for Best Limited Series at the GLAAD Media Awards, we caught up with Emmy nominee Kathryn Hahn (Transparent) to find out more about her lead role as Eve Fletcher.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
Did you know the book before agreeing to the role?
No, I didn’t. For this it was a script for the pilot and then it was a meeting with Tom. It was a kind of sniffing each other out process (laughs). We met, had a drink together somewhere in Santa Monica and had this amazing talk about everything and so little of it, as these meetings turn out to be, was about the project itself. And as it often is, it was about things that interest us.
What intrigued you about your character?
I have a ton of empathy for this woman who was burdened by so many labels and identities that society puts on her that were not hers anymore. She has been divorced 10 years and she is still living as "Mrs. Fletcher," which is an identity that she should have shed years and years ago.
My mom had the same experience. She is still Mrs. Hahn and she has been divorced for 15 years or something.
I know many women that are still holding on to their divorced names. Isn’t that weird? I think it’s changing now. But I think with my mom’s generation it was that identity. That’s what you did. I think it’s easier for the kids but often you are just holding on to an identity that is not yours.
And that’s a key to what happens when Eve’s son leaves for college and Eve begins to examine her life?
Yes. That identity was a stand in for all the other identities that Eve has put on her, like "mother".
She is living with this stranger, her son, and their relationship isn’t necessarily the greatest or the most open and she has been made the villain in this divorce by him, of course, which is unfair. Her job is not the most fulfilling, so everything has been kind of prescribed. She’s tried to do everything by the numbers – she’s tried to be good her whole life and it just hasn’t served her soul very well.
And so finally she has a chance to explore who she is and for her, and inversely for Brendan, it’s through this Pandora’s Box of internet porn that she is able to just be reckless, to be dangerous – she is having an affair with herself basically. And she is able to look at herself as this sexy, sexualised, attractive woman and she can’t wait to go home to herself, she can’t wait to be with herself. I think in those first couple of episodes it’s like a honeymoon period for her and then, of course, it gets a little darker. But I think she is falling in love with herself again.
(A TREAT: Kathryn Hahn in scene from Mrs. Fletcher. Photo: HBO/Showmax)
Tom was saying that the story, in part, is about the ‘unruliness of desire.’ Would you agree?
Yes, you can’t put a lid on desire. You can’t put a cap on it, no matter how irrational it is. Also, I think the porn - this sexual awakening for her - is a stand in for her existential search for something – like for God, a search for who she is, for whatever. I think we try to box women all the time into these little corners of ‘motherhood’ or ‘menopausal’ and you become invisible, no one looks at you the same way anymore and on the inside, your experience of being a woman, your sexuality is still very much alive and active and I think we just rarely get a chance to see a woman still exploding in those ways. And that was very interesting to me because I think women deserve to have that power represented.
It would be an entirely different story, of course, if it was about a guy watching porn…
Yes, and we’ve seen that. We have, as viewers, been that gaze on women for so many years so we’ve basically been the watcher of the pornography – the male gaze.
You mean even in mainstream cinema and TV?
Yes, and so I think to see a woman have that gaze on to it is different in and of itself. And it does feel different. It is a dual coming-of-age story, so at the same time we’re watching Eve go through this, opening this Pandora’s Box of internet porn, we’re watching her son who, like so many young people today, is being raised on how to be intimate or vulnerable, have a courtship, dating – all the things that we used to do face-to-face – through their devices, through technology and porn. And they don’t know how to just ‘date’ or have a courtship or have a face-to-face conversation or be able to deal with heartbreak or confrontation because they just swipe left. And so at the same time that Eve is going through this, seeing the internet as a new world, Brendan is now being launched into this new world of actual intimacy and real humans when he goes to college. Tom has set up something so potent because we get to see both sides of it, which is so interesting.
Can you imagine this being made 20 years ago?
I can’t imagine me being the lead in something like this 20 years ago. It is really the fact that HBO would take a risk on me being the lead of a show like this - a show speaking to these themes, with these players - proves that this is a really exciting time. I’m so grateful and so proud of HBO for taking a leap on something like this. It really is a golden age for this form of television.
Tom Perrotta was talking about how important it was that you collaborated on the show with him. He said that you were filming as the #MeToo movement was happening and that you were a great sounding board for him…
That’s interesting. The #MeToo movement is still happening and still very much alive and loud. And there is still so much more to say in that department. It’s very important to me.
After my first meeting with Tom, I really felt that this was a story told from the two different perspectives, the mother and the son, and it was interesting to me that she was written in the third person and he was written in the first, in the book, and I was very curious as to how he was going to be able to get into the eye of Eve, into the first person.
I knew that was going to be a hurdle that we would face together – to get into the soul of this woman. And to his credit, he really surrounded himself with very strong women. It was important to me – and he understood – to have a team of all women directors, an amazing producer, Helen Estabrook, a writers’ room that was stacked with women, and to really surround us with women’s voices. And he was very open hearted and he is such an incredible listener and he’s open and flexible. So we were able to use this amazing piece of writing, his book, as a kind of a document to leap from, to leap forward into something that I don’t think any of us anticipated.
Could there be another season of Mrs. Fletcher?
It’s definitely a limited series. But I love Eve so much. (Laughs). Listen, with Big Little Lies, nobody thought there was going to be another one, so we’ll see.
Stream Mrs. Fletcher on Showmax now.
Compiled by Kevin Kriedemann. (Sources: Indiewire/Showmax)