Kevin Can F**k Himself: Valerie Armstrong on "New England Way" & More
With a second season on the way, excitement is brewing for AMC's Kevin Can F**k Himself, so I sat down to chat with series creator Valerie Armstrong to talk all about where the series has gone and some of the directions it might be taking in the new season. We get into a variety of topics, ranging from favorite episodes and influences to the benefits of New England origin stories. Here's a look at the first of Bleeding Cool's two-part interview:
Bleeding Cool: I've been watching and reviewing the series and it's been amazing. It's been really great. I've loved it so far. I'm interested in your past experiences and projects. I'm wondering if any of that content went into making "Kevin Can F**k Himself"?
Valerie Armstrong: I would say probably the jobs that I had before I actually became a writer really influenced me. So my first job in television was as a writer's PA where I just got lunches for writers on a show called Masters of Sex on Showtime. I mean, before that, I was desperate to just know a writer, let alone get them lunch. So I was thrilled to be there, thrilled to get lunch every day. And it was run by three or four women who just showed me how to do this job and tell a story and be kind all at the same time, I hope anyways. I considered it to be like grad school. It's how I learned how to break story, how to think about characters, and writing and scene work. And that's not to say that I didn't learn a ton on, you know? Like SEAL Team is completely different from the show. But that's all story math, which is massively important. Lodge 49, was very tone-driven and it was so the voice of the creator, and I feel like Kevin is really very similar in that I have friends who watch it and say it just sounds like you talking. So I definitely learned from every job I had. But I think the early ones, the ones where I got to just sit and observe and try to soak as much in it as possible from women whom I respect and revere taught me the most.
BC: It's really quite exciting to see how you drew from so many different past shows, like "SEAL Team".
VA: You can absolutely learn a ton from jobs where if you have the right bosses… if they're good to you… where you're getting lunch every day, you know that is not a creative pursuit but that doesn't mean you can't get something out of it.
BC: Very true, and coming from someone…I used to live in New England…
VA: Really?!? Where?
BC: Newburyport, sort of north of Boston. Watching this series was great because, you know, it takes place in Worcester and I love that everyone's getting the name and saying that correctly. Accents included, I'm wondering, how did you navigate making sure you got the culture and everything right about that?
VA: I think it helped shooting there. You know, none of our cast is from New England, but being soaked in it for so long. I think, you know, you go to Dunkin' and you meet four people who can inform how you approach a scene or how you talk to someone. I grew up in New England, in Connecticut, and I wanted it to be like a distillation sort of my hometown where these people live. But the minute you say Connecticut, people think fancy, even though it was not. So I set it in Worcester because I think it's just specific. It's specific, it's a city, but it's not Boston, you know, and the accents are fantastic. And so to me, like you said, getting that culture right was very important. But it comes not so much just from, you know, the locations and making sure that the houses look right like it's ground up. It is so baked into every character and how they approach life and other people and their futures. I mean, we always say nobody on the show can say what they actually feel or mean, they have to say, "I'm fine" if you say anything other than "I'm good, how are you?" when someone says "How are you?" Like, you're being rude. It's just everything is fine, except everything also sucks. It is just the New England way and it's baked into every character, into every situation. And in no way am I mocking it because it's how I grew up. It's how I am now. I'm a huge Pats fan. I think a lot of people watch this and thought I was like punching down at Bostonians, it's like, "Hi! Thirty-two years running".
BC: I can see definitely the love. It's exaggerated, but it's like true-to-form love of the Boston area.
VA: It's what I go home to. We watch Pats games every Sunday and just yell at the TV.
Check out Part II of our interview with AMC's Kevin Can F**k Himself series creator Valerie Armstrong this Monday, with the first season of AMC's Kevin Can F**k Himself now available on DVD & Blu-ray.
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