You may not believe this, but it’s already been months since the Girls Season 6 finale, and tomorrow that season will be on sale on Blu-Ray and DVD so you can live through the only four Girls who will ever be allowed to use that title alone.
At the ATX Festival, I had a chance to sit down with director Richard Shepard and series costars Ebon Richard-Moss and Jon Glaser who portrayed Desi and Laird respectively. We talked about some of the bigger moments of the series and dangling questions remaining In anticipation of the DVD release. Enjoy!
TV Fanatic: Hi Richard. You kind of did all the big episodes that were character-centric. What I really want to ask you is how collaborative were they with Lena, and did you have input into the writing? How big was your part?
Richard Shepard: Lena is a deeply confident writer and creator. Because she's so confident, she encourages discussion as opposed to pushing it away.
The answer to that is always felt like I had a lot of contributions, starting with the script, talking about what was working for me, what wasn't working for me, ways that we could figure out to make it work for both of us.
Lena, to her credit, always listened to what I was bringing to the table, and always created a new draft that may not have been exactly what I was pitching but satisfied the things I needed fixed or changed or whatever. I really valued my creative relationship with her. She was an amazing boss and an amazing writer.
As a director, the three Bottle episodes, the Panic in Central Park, American Bitch and One Man's Cash, those were all her scripts. So to be able to work just one-on-one with her, we would go to a restaurant in New York each time and sit there and dissect them, and it was awesome.
I felt like I had a true partnership creatively. I think that's why she kept throwing these certain Bottle episodes my way, because I think she responded to the way that we would sort of dissect how to do that.
We had the Matthew Rhys/Lena episode in the sixth season, which was really a lot of fun and very deep. What was the catalyst of that episode, and what were your little changes?
Richard Shepard: Lena, as a writer, wanted to approach that had been on her mind, and I think wisely realized that in the sixth season of the show, her character, Hannah, this could actually happen to her. I don't know, if it would have been in season one or two we would have believe that that conversation would have happened like that.
I came in from a very ... I really wanted it to be a real conversation. I wanted to see Mathew's side of the equation up to a point, and so I fought for making his arguments stronger, even if I didn't necessarily always agree with them.
I felt like the more that they could volley back and forth, the more he would seem to be impressed by here, and thus you would believe when he asked her into the bedroom that she would go.
I feel like my main contribution beyond the normal things you do as a director was asking Lena if we could change the ending so that the daughter could play music and they would have to sit there and watch her play in silence.
Because I felt like after 20-something minutes of deep dialogue, I wanted the audience to have a real time to unload it and realize what they've just seen.
Great. We're going to move on to you, sir. Your character kind of went out with a strange bang for the season, and kind of had a little meltdown. What we're all wondering is, we're wondering a couple of things ... First of all, to back up, first this season we discovered that you ... not you, it definitely wasn't you.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: Desi.
Desi had a severe drug problem.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: Yeah.
Did you know all through the first five seasons that Desi had a drug problem?
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: I mean, if you look at his behavior, I definitely suspected that there were things going on that we weren't seeing. I always knew that what we were seeing in the actual shows, the scripts, was not everything that was going on with him. He was definitely somebody that had a lot of secrets and was lying a lot.
Because that's kind of what I'm wondering. What was your motivation to make him who he was prior to that revelation, and what did that revelation feel like, to finally have the background, "Oh, now I know"?
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: It was satisfying for me to have this sort of revelation, in terms of a dramatic standpoint, that we get a little bit more information about why. "Oh, he's such a dick."
To me, that's not ... I don't believe that, that somebody is just that. He's a very troubled guy, and very selfish, but someone who's also really trying to do the right thing but who's maybe not the…
Richard Shepard: You looked back at other pieces of performance you had given, and once you find that he was such a drug addict and then go, "I might have played that differently if I'd knew that"?
Richard Shepard: Yeah.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: There's a lot of stories throughout Hollywood lore of people being ... Especially, in TV series, where you get to the certain season, there's some kind of denouement, the person is like, "Well, God, if I had known that I was an East German operative, I would have never," and they're pissed off that they felt like they've been manipulated by the director.
I that doesn't bother me. First of all, for me, I always have secrets that I like to keep from the director and the writer, to begin with, so I feel like I have my own things up my sleeve. I think that's interesting. I'm not upset. There's nothing I would have played differently, no.
Where do you think he disappeared to?
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: I think he kind of stumbles out of there and winds up teaching a summer poetry session up at Bard.
Ebon Moss Bachrach: I don't know. There was a scene that they ultimately cut latter one, like episodes down the line in the last season, where we find Desi on the side of a mountain, in orange monk gear, with a shaved head, and he started taking this vow of silence. It's true.
Richard Shepard: Yeah, I remember that.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: That's real.
Richard Shepard: I tried to convince him to send us to Tibet. Remember?
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: That's right.
Richard Shepard: I'm like, "Just send us to Tibet. We'll shoot second unit." I was really working hard. I was doing the math of what it would cost.
Ebon Moss-Bachrach: No, we didn't shoot it. I really lobbied hard, and ultimately successfully, because I felt, to me, a really pat kind of ... I mean, it didn't take much convincing. Lena and Gina, I don't think, were super into that.
I think they sort of liked the image of it, but it did diminish that kind of thing, and I think the reality is, with that guy, he had to stumble off to die or to figure out what he was going to do. There are other scenes in that episode that got cut, where it got really, really bad.
At one point, he's in the bathroom with Marty's mom's best friend, doing herbal ecstasy and getting a handjob, and crying, getting a handjob and crying and crying and crying. Then he stumbles out of there. I'm talking too much.
Okay, Jon. About Laird. Laird, was it always the plan for him to have as large a part as he did? Because his character is so kooky, that's what I'm wondering. Or was it audience reaction to Laird that kind of brought him up in status?
Jon Glaser: I don't know. I don't know if there were plans for Laird beyond that first episode or not. It certainly seemed like something that could recur, just because he lived downstairs, in physical proximity.
So I don't know what their grand plan was for the character, and if he became more, I was very happy, if the character came back. It was so fun to do, and they were super nice to me, and they brought me in. But the real answer, I'm not sure.
Are you satisfied with the way his story ended?
Glaser: I saw an early pilot script, and the title said Laird's.
[laughs] That’s perfect. There you go. Thank you, guys, so much.
Keep in mind, Girls: The Complete Sixth Season is available now for digital download and on Blu-ray and DVD on July 25, 2017.
All formats feature exclusive new bonus content, including an extended version of ‘A Goodbye to Girls’ featuring never-before- seen behind-the- scenes footage, ‘Inside the Episodes’ featurettes and more.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.