If you're familiar with Hulu's Casual, then you must be checking into FOX's pivoting if only because Tommy Dewey plays opposite Eliza Coupe's Amy as her husband, Henry, on the female-driven show.
Dewey is familiar with working alongside strong female characters, and he's adding a lot of charm to Pivoting as a result.
We had a chance to catch up with him to talk all about it. Please enjoy segments of our conversation below.
You had the perfect character and an amazing performance in Casual. Has this been hard to follow that up?
Yeah. I love that job, and I love those people, making the show with those people. So I took a little time to A) rest and B) think about what I wanted to do next. And at least on the TV side, that thing became Pivoting. And I think what made that decision easy was, of course, the writing.
I loved Liz Astrof's pilot script, but also that Henry is so different than Alex. It just felt fresh in a way, pun intended, but to pivot from Casual, it felt like a great first thing back.
How did you get involved with Pivoting?
I just got sent the script, and they asked me to do it. And I tend to overthink things. So I took a little while and read it a bunch. And I just couldn't say no to it. I think Liz is such a talent. And then I knew Eliza from Casual and loved working with her. So it was kind of a no-brainer.
And you kind of mentioned this a little bit, but what boxes do Pivoting and Henry tick for you as actor?
Well, there is a certain challenge to playing a fundamentally decent selfless person. I mean, he's interesting, and he's got some edges. But I mean, to reference Casual again, Alex was a pretty self-involved guy, a pretty selfish guy. And Henry is not that. And he kind of thrives on the chaos around him.
Liz hinted to me early on that part of Henry's backstory is that he grew up in chaos. And so, he's sort of built an identity around it, and he's sort of found that now in his own family life with Amy and the kids.
He's written as the most easygoing husband and father ever.
Yeah. I mean, yes and no. I think there's a version of him that is so easygoing. I bring a little stress to the role just because I think it makes it more interesting. I think someone who's unflappable could run the risk of anything boring.
Yes. Is he easier going than the other people in his orbit? Probably. But I also think, I don't know, there's an energy there that suggests that he's not totally at peace.
Right, right. But he allows things to roll off his back that most people wouldn't, especially because of his wife.
Yeah. And to go back to an earlier question, I think one thing I did really like about this character was the way he deflects and manages with humor.
He has this great dry kind of mischievous sense humor that I really dug on the page. And I think that's Henry's secret to survival is deflecting with humor. And that goes to the bigger themes of the show, which is when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And I think he embraces that idea.
Definitely, and it seems like COVID, whether you lost someone or you didn't, reminded us of how short life can be. So it's a good timing, I think, for this to hit.
Yeah. I said yes to this three weeks before it hit. It became so timely. I agree with you. I think my hope would be that after a crummy couple years, an audience can see themself in it, just see a group of friends trying to manage in the face of pretty lousy circumstances.
And did you feel how timely it was while you were actually reading the scripts and bringing them to life? Because it seems like it must have been hitting you all like, "Wow, we've all just been through this."
Yeah, for sure. And it's what I love. I mean, I love a comedy with some real guts to it. It's really the emotional foundation. Liz wrote this after the death of a friend. And so, I wouldn't call it autobiographical, but it was certainly a jumping-off point for her.
We certainly did feel it. I'm not doing brain surgery here, but I always find relief in the television that I watch. And so, I guess to find some meaning in the mess of the last couple years; hopefully, we can make something that resonates but also just allows you to check out for half an hour and laugh a little.
Definitely. What have you reassessed in your life lately that might make this good comedic fodder?
Oh, my goodness. That is a great question. I don't know. I mean, something cool about my job is that there's so much variety within it. I feel like I'm constantly pivoting. I mean, you brought up Casual. It's an amazing universe to occupy, but totally different than Pivoting. Every couple of years feels like a little bit of a reset for me.
I mean, I guess you realize with all the tragedy of the last couple years, and the show obviously gets to this, that life is short. I started, in the last couple years, making decisions more quickly, just not chewing on something for a month before I pull the trigger. This has been a little bit, in terms of self-reflection, a bit like, "Okay, dude, just get on with it."
Yeah, I don't think you're alone in that.
I mean, that's been a positive. Yeah.
I would agree. And we've already mentioned Casual. And now we're talking Pivoting. You've done a lot of comedy, but you've also had some dramatic roles. Would you like to do more dramatic roles in the future?
For sure. I kind of love it all. Like we're saying, I always want the next job to be a little different than the last, just to stretch me in some kind of new way. And so, I can see myself doing another drama for sure.
I think I look for comedies with some emotional underpinnings, and I look for dramas with a sense of humor.
Because that's life.
Yeah. Because that's life. I mean, never say never. I may end up in something, like some drama that's really earnest and so dark that it's humorless. And that might be a fun challenge. But that kind of stuff usually feels so false to me; I'm usually not drawn to that kind of stuff.
Even with the heavier dramatic stuff, even if you're crying in every other scene, I gravitate towards characters and material with a sense of humor somewhere in there.
You mentioned that you watch TV. What have you watched in the last couple years with so much time to do it that you found to be really good?
I just finished Station Eleven, which I thought was remarkable. I thought it was just beautifully done. And it was about what the arts mean to us and how we use them in our lives to manage all the tough stuff.
What else did I watch? I mean, I'm a big sports fan. So that first piece of the pandemic with no sports was especially dark for me.
You and so many others.
I know. And then sports came back, even the most obscure sports. I would watch anything. If it was a live competition, I was into it.
I don't know. It made me feel like not all was lost. And I watch documentaries. I just watched this great documentary called The Alpinist. I watched that, too. I love documentaries. They're just getting better and better all the time.
Better, and there are so many of them. I mean, so many of quality, in a way. Even ten years ago, there wasn't. You put me on the spot, but trust me that I've watched a crapload of television.
Did you watch Mare of Easttown by any chance?
I did. Love that too.
I mention that because whenever you said you like your dark drama to have a tinge of humor, I mean, there were some laugh-out-loud scenes in that.
Oh yeah, absolutely. I thought Breaking Bad was one of the funniest shows of the last 20 years. I love that stuff. And I mean, Mare of Easttown, come on, that was just an acting masterclass across the board.
So have you watched anything and thought, "Wow, I wish I could have been in that."?
I watch a lot of things and wish I could be in them. I am in something now that I don't think I'm allowed to mention what it is.
Oh, is that right?
I'm doing a gig currently with a period element to it. The stuff that catches my attention is that full-world-creation, different era, the stuff I'm kind of wishing I was in recently.
That's why I really responded to Station Eleven. I would love to slip into that universe because it's kind of, as you probably know, this post-apocalyptic Midwestern universe where the weeds have taken over Chicago. And I don't know, to slip into an alternate world is something that excites me.
Well, and it makes sense that, as you said, it's all about the arts and how important carrying those stories forward can be.
Yeah. What are the stories we tell each other?
And it was a great watching Shakespeare and all that stuff, but, not to get too heady and corny here, but what are the stories that we tell? You learn a lot about groups of people from the stories they tell each other about themselves. Right? And that's thematically a really interesting thing.
Yeah. And I think that these strange times are going to produce a lot of very interesting content going forward. At least, I hope so.
Early episodes of Pivoting are so much fun. What can we expect from future episodes?
I was hesitating when you brought up Henry being so easygoing. He gets a little less easygoing. I think Henry starts to crack a little bit. I think he doesn't lose his DNA and is still a rock for his family, but, understandably, he's been there to support his wife and her journey with grief because she lost her best friend, Colleen.
But he's ignored himself in the process. So I got to do some really fun stuff in the back half of the season, where Henry comes apart a little bit.
What are some of your favorite scenes so far?
One of my favorite scenes of the first three is when Henry gets hit with the car. It's a fun stunt.
That scene captures the best of Liz's writing because there's some great, big physical humor, but it shifts pretty cool quickly into an emotional scene between Henry and Amy, which is saying, "We can't live our lives cautiously. It's not what your friend would've wanted, and it's not what I want."
That was a nice little scene. I enjoyed figuring that one out with Eliza and with Tristram, the director. That stands out. There are some scenes that I'm forbidden from spoiling too much, but Henry takes up a new hobby later in the season.
And there is a scene in there that I don't know if we ever completed it. Eliza and I laughed. We couldn't get to it without breaking. And so, I can't wait to see what they were able to salvage because that was one of my favorite days at work.
Doesn't that make your job so much fun?
It really does. I mean, Eliza is just one of the funniest people I know. It doesn't feel like work. We laughed a lot on this gig.
Is there anything else that you want to pitch that you've got coming out, or is it just all this secretive stuff?
Well, actually, there's a movie I did a couple of years ago now called Wyrm. It's a really cool little movie directed by this great young director, Christopher Winterbauer. It'll be out sometime soon. I'm doing a bunch of writing in the meantime.
And then I guess April, May we'll probably hear if we get to make more of this thing, which I would certainly like to do.
Pivoting airs on FOX Thursday nights at 9:30/8:30c.
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.