I literally just got off the phone with The River stars Leslie Hope (Tess Cole) and Joe Anderson (Lincoln Cole), and we talked about the first season experience as well as a teeny-tiny hint at the season finale. I can’t believe it’s already that time for this show! So far, it’s been a great, exciting ride and now the crew of the Magus has finally ended their quest to find Dr. Emmett Cole. But is this the end or just the beginning of an even bigger adventure?
While I didn’t have much time with Leslie and Joe (I could have talked with them about The River for hours!), there were a few things that I was really curious about, besides what’s going to happen in the finale. I knew they couldn’t talk about that, nor would I want them to – I like surprises, and I want to finish this journey without spoilers. But now that we could talk about the whole season to date, I wanted to hear their own personal experiences.
Question: Since the show is about the “magic that is out there”, what kind of magic have each of you found while working on the show?
Leslie: You know, Joe acts like he’s all scientific and like he doesn’t believe in this stuff, but let me just tell you, when we were all in that hospital in last week’s episode (The Experiment), let me tell you, it was a little creepy in there. So even the most cynical among us might have been a little spooked in that place.
But on a more positive note, I can tell you that I was not prepared for the beautiful, rich, every day spiritual life of the Hawaiian people. It was really moving and touching to there with those people every day. That’s certainly not something that I was expecting and certainly not on a TV show.
Joe: Yeah, it’s very different. I traveled a lot before this and I’ve been to a lot of places and I’ve seen a lot of different religions and different forms of religion and what have you. But especially in Hawaii, it’s quite unique and unlike anything else I’ve ever seen or felt before, so that was kind of fascinating, even in my scientific, logical, grounded human being.
Question: Do you think the atmosphere of Hawaii seeped into the show itself during shooting?
Leslie: I think for me it did. Typically, on most traditional TV shows you’re moving on a sound stage, you’re probably walking back and forth in a trailer, there’s probably a bunch of chairs hanging around, and an espresso machine. When you’re shooting a show like this, the reality is we’re on a boat with your colleagues and co-stars for hours and hours a day, and it’s hot and it’s sticky. There’s nowhere to sit and there’s bugs and you’re in the jungle and all those things really contribute to the reality of the show itself. I felt like you got a lot of stuff for free in that sense. You didn’t have to act out of your element, you didn’t have to act like you were afraid. You didn’t have to act like you were stuck on a boat because you were!
Joe: There was danger too, filming on a boat is dangerous. It’s tricky and especially when you’ve got as many people and stuff. The show is not about a court room drama by any means. We’re running around and it’s frantic and there’s real bulk heads to trip over, and there’s real kind of ropes and cleats that you can get caught up in. So that, for me, adds a whole lot that you just have to be careful for real. It’s fun in that aspect.
Question: Is there a certain horror story from the set from each of you?
Leslie: You know I have a phobia of cockroaches, water too, but cockroaches – anything with antennae. In Hawaii, it’s a jungle and of course there’s cockroaches everywhere. And I made a deal with Paul Blackthorne (Clark), he and I became buddies on the show, and I happened to be staying in a place that had cockroaches. I mean the ones that are like dog-size cockroaches. I made a deal with Paul that he could stay with me because his place was so noisy, if he would kill the bugs. And I will say one of my freakiest moments on the show was right before we all left for home. Paul went back into his place and I was in mine, and I heard it before I saw it. A cockroach crawling across my script, and I did, I screamed, it was like two in the morning. And while it has nothing to do with the show, I felt it was a fitting farewell to Hawaii, that my very last night there, I should be surrounded by roaches. Joe is not afraid of bugs at all, and he picks them up puts them in his hands!
Joe: Yeah, nothing too squeamish really, but I did nearly take off Paul Blackthorne’s finger with a shovel during one scene. We were having to dig Leslie out of a grave in one of the earlier episodes and we were just down on our knees, four of us just digging with our hands in the soil, and I think Kurt chucks us a couple of shovels. I have one, I think Lena had one, and Paul is still digging with his hands and we’re trying to time this and I got his finger. I nicked his finger and it honestly if it was an inch to the left it would have lost his finger. That freaked me out a little bit. I just and to stop, breathe, because you know you get into it for real and it’s so intense. People can get hurt. That was my most freaky moment on set.
Question: What has been the biggest surprise for you both?
Joe: I think the thing that interests me the most is how the fans are taking to the style of the show. Especially the initial two episodes are shot by the same director, and we start to change directors, and although the style of the show is the same, it does differ slightly from director to director and obviously from story to story. I think this kind of faux documentary, the Blair Witch/Paranormal Activity thing on a regular basis, I think before, it’s been seen as a one-time, one-hit wonder type thing. You can do it a few times and it’s going to work, but I think it scares people slightly to think that they’re going to watch this thing on a weekly basis. How are they going to keep up with it? Look at the camera movements! I mean, is it going to make me sick? You know, you read all those things and you hear all that in the beginning and then by the end they’re going “Oh wow, look at this! This is amazing! I get it now! I understand!” So I think it was a much more slow boil in terms of the audience getting the show and the way the show works and how they’re going to explore a theme. So I hope that that will continue for a second season, and I hope that the people who are truly TV watchers, that don’t mind putting a little effort into watching, will actually follow it and start to join some of the dots and get a sense of satisfaction out of doing that.
Question: What can you tell me about the season finale?
Leslie: I can tell you that my beautiful TV son, Joe Anderson, kicks the shit out of it. He’s so good in it. I can tell you that it’s working with really big ideas. Classic father versus son, good versus evil. I can tell you that I found it was one of the more disturbing episodes that we did. And it’s not disturbing because something jumps out and scares you. It’s disturbing because of the internal journey that my son is taking. And I can tell you that it’s a really satisfying end for eight episodes, but it does crack the door open for a second season.
Row, Row, Row, Your Boat airs Tuesday, March 20 at 9/8c, on ABC.