The Baby Interview: De Swarte & Grappy On Reflecting Current Events

HBO's limited series The Baby stars Michelle de Swarte and Amber Grappy spoke with me recently about the horror-comedy series, including playing sisters, Natasha & Bobbi, and the themes of motherhood tackled in each episode. This is the second part of the interview, check out part one for anything you might have missed.

The Baby's Michelle De Swarte & Amber Grappy Chat HBO Series
Image Sources: HBO, Ross Ferguson/HBO, and Luke Varley/HBO

Bleeding Cool: It's really awesome to see this sort of community figure out how to deal with and navigate working with babies. And on the topic of babies, there's just a really interesting set of themes in the series concerning motherhood and forced motherhood and how you feel about taking care of a child while taking on such responsibility. What kind of impact do you think or what do you hope the impact is from this show when it comes to these themes?

Michelle de Swarte: I think it's tricky, I wouldn't want to speak for anyone else, but what I would like is that It can just be a springboard to maybe start some more honest, open conversations, especially if people are feeling isolated by being a caregiver. What this show taught me is that you really do need to be able to talk to people, similar to what was said before about how like there was a bunch of communication happening around dealing with how to get the most out of the babies on set. I think that is also very true to life. You need a support network and you need to be honest with some people and mostly not be worried about being judged. I think that fear of being judged can find you extremely isolated. That's what I would hope if nothing else, hopefully, the show makes you laugh and you're entertained and all of that. But hopefully, if you do have children you can joke with someone else who has children and say, "This is how I feel", and if you don't, maybe you can check in with someone who does.

Amber Grappy: I think also just like just inspiring compassion in people and recognizing that not everyone is always in the same situation as you. And even if it's the same situation it might not be the same set of circumstances. We're telling a lot of stories that aren't often told, which is a really special thing. I hope that people can try and have compassion for other people in their situations and maybe we can understand each other a little bit better. That's kind of what I want people to take away from it and I hope people enjoy it.

BC: Everything comes at a weird time because of what's happening in the United States right now with the fight for reproductive health rights. Do you think "The Baby" plays any sort of role in all of that or do you hope it has any sort of impact relating to current events and society? 

MDS: I have my own opinions on that. I would I'd be very cautious to kind of put how I feel, or my feelings politically, on women being able to make their own choices about their body and feeling quite a sort of unwavering and quite passionate about that. I wouldn't want to imprint that on what the show is, especially when I didn't write the show. But I know as a woman how I feel about that. And personally, you should be able to make a choice about your body. In terms of the show, I didn't write the show but I had the privilege of getting to play Natasha. Sometimes the universe conspires in certain ways that make it seem like things are perfectly aligned and so one should be a comment on the other. I don't know if it would be right to use the show or my acting as a vehicle to sort of speak about my feelings personally, although those are my feelings personally.

AG: Yeah, I completely agree. Yeah, my feelings personally are that.

MDS: Using the frame of the show, I wouldn't want to be manipulative about what the show is. You might be pro-life, you might be pro-choice and you're allowed to have your opinions, and I wouldn't want that to, like, exclude anyone from enjoying this show.

AG: I hope as well that like it does inspire conversation about the impact of it because obviously while these things exist within the show, these issues do exist in the real world. I would just hope that the issue of choice and the theme of choice within the show inspire conversations in the outside world.

@hbo

This baby looks way too happy. #thebaby

♬ original sound – HBO

BC: It's awesome to hear your perspective on that because of the timing of everything and speaking about motherhood within the show and within all the real-world events. All right. So I have a final question for both of you. What is your favorite aspect of the series itself? It can be, you know, scenes, or wardrobe, or truly anything that excites you about "The Baby"? 

MDS: Personally, my favorite thing about this show is that I'm a huge horror fan and up until Get Out, you just never saw people of color in horror films that didn't get killed off within like the first 5 minutes. So to have a show that's led by black women and queer women and it's my favorite genre, that's what I love about it. I mean, like there's some kickass women who wrote it and directed it and so that's what I'm happy about.

AG: I think the whole experience was just so incredible to me, and I've never experienced anything like it before until I did it. The amount of fun that was to be had doing it was just great. There were things that I'd never done before like when we were looking at magic, working with babies, shooting action scenes, and working with an incredible cast and amazing crew. All of it was just it was a dream and so I'm going to be really cheesy and say the whole thing was brilliant.

BC: One last quick note. I just wanted to tell you, Michelle, that the scene in episode two with the diaper change was probably one of the funniest things because it's all too real. 

MDS: I'm really happy that you said that because that day was kind of surreal because at one point we had a dog in the scene and there were babies. I was like, "Wow", there was like a dog in this scene, a dog wrangler, a baby, and a baby wrangler. At one point the fire alarms went off and I had like my face in my hands that were covered in fake shit for a shot that we didn't end up using and I just remember sitting on the toilet and being like, "Yeah, yeah, okay. Yeah."

@hbomax

A blessing or a curse? #TheBabyHBO

♬ original sound – hbomax

Thanks for reading, to help during this difficult time for the future of reproductive healthcare please consider the resources below for information on local organizations and how to donate:

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About Brittney Bender

In love with media, from TV to film, you'll find me writing recaps, reviews, TV news, "Top 5" content, opinion pieces are everything and anything, and more! Bisexual creative mess with a love for dark humor, promoting important projects, and sharing interesting finds.
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