Interview with Kate Mara, Hannah Fidell and Nick Robinson – Contenders TV – Deadline

Writer-director Hannah Fidell previously directed the acclaimed independent film A teacher in 2013, but when the opportunity arose to expand the story as a TV series and really bring out all the complexities of it, she jumped at the chance.

As she said during the FX series panel at Deadline’s Contenders Television awards season event, the story of a teacher who gets into an affair with her 17-year-old high school student is a controversial one, but she needed audiences to feel sympathetic to the central characters – at least in the first few episodes of the 12-episode, half-hour limited series.

“From the start, our intention was to make the public feel like an accomplice. And to do that at least for the first few episodes, not that we want the audience to feel like they need to be together, but certainly to make them complicit in the abusive part of it, we really have to have that experience with Eric. . , the character that Nick Robinson played, ”Fidell said. “And if Eric feels in love with Claire, his teacher, the audience should feel it too. I think part of that intention was to really show how complicated consent is. I personally hate shows that are so outwardly moralistic, and so making audiences hesitate between the two is it right, is it wrong, was certainly something to be expected.

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Kate Mara plays the teacher and has also joined as a producer. She knew it would be a rich experience and also an experience where they could reflect on the inspiration of some real life stories about teacher-student affairs.

“The fact that she’s such a complex character that’s super layered and that you know she’s not just the villain of the story – I think she has a lot more to do and a lot to discover and discover. to explore. I’ve never played a character like this before, so for me it was an exciting challenge to explore this person and their psyche, ”she said. “Hannah and I have done a lot of research on real stories that look like this one. It’s hard to get concrete answers as to why this sort of thing happens, especially from the abuser’s perspective. So this was all really an honor for Hannah and the Writers’ Room and just a lot of conversation about why this could happen in this person’s life. But yeah, we’ve definitely watched real stories, watched all the documentaries, and read every news article we could find.

Robinson wasn’t looking to play another high school student at this point in his career, but he found it too compelling to pass up.

“It felt like it was a high school story, but it was very different from anything I’ve played before. The characters were very complex and it wasn’t really high school theater. It was about this high school student facing very adult circumstances and a kind of push in this very adult drama, ”he said. “It felt like a challenge and I felt like I was redoing material that I had done before, but through a whole different lens and telling a whole different story, and it was really exciting for me.

“It was a great way to end my bogus experiences in high school,” he laughs.

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