What Works Best: Making It Up Vs Planning Ahead? Seriable Actors Weigh In


What works best in serialized television? Flying by the seat of your pants-style storytelling (i.e. making it up as they go along), planning ahead, or something in-between? We all have our views on this, particularly when it comes to the more complex serials — but what do some of serialized TV’s most famous faces think?

Speaking at THR’s Drama Actor’s Roundtable, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Kelsey Grammer (Boss), Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Peter Krause (Six Feet Under, Parenthood), Damian Lewis (Homeland), and Kiefer Sutherland (24, Touch) weighed in on this particular topic.

Recounting his experience on Homeland‘s first season, Lewis said:

I’m working with guys that Kiefer spent a long time working with on 24. They’re phenomenally talented and collaborative, as long as they know what the story is going to do. Often they don’t. But there was one incident toward the end of the first season, they didn’t happen on it. I think genuinely they didn’t happen on it in the writers room until about episode five or six, and then they came to me and said, “We think this happens.” I was like, “What? What do you mean that happens? I’m that guy? I’m not that guy?” Then you realize you’re a guy that’s being written. So you roll with it.

Watch the video for this discussion in the player below:

Read the entire article and watch more roundtable videos at THR.

In terms of consumption, I think a happy medium works best for many serials. Generally, I want seriable shows to have a firm grasp of where they’re going each season, but at the same time I don’t want storylines to be so rigid that shows are inflexible to the kind of opportunities that can lead to more exciting story arcs and general improvements (I mean, Benjamin Linus, hello).

Of course, some serials work best in either of the extremes, while adaptations (like Game Of Thrones) can have slightly different freedoms from the outset (though Thrones isn’t a book-by-book copy).

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  1. Aria Mohtadi says

    This is great Roco!
    It made my day, thanks!
    I’m already loading/watching the videos.
    I remember there was another one a couple of years ago with (the awesome) Matthew Fox and (the amazing) Bryan Cranston.

    This year, it’s all the shows we admire! 😀

    Like: Thumb up 1

  2. matt says

    Obviously flexibility is key so that unintended greatness can be capitalized and extended upon (your example of Ben Linus) BUT for God’s sake you have to have a realized concept of a beginning and an end and a basic foundation of how to get there or you end up drastically off course and LOST in he Weeds (example, the LOST ending, where Weeds is now as opposed to seasons 1-3)

    Like: Thumb up 0

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