Interview with actors Morena Baccarin, Ryan Michelle Bathé, Costa Ronin and executive producers Jake Coburn and Nick Wootton of “The Endgame” on “NBC” by Suzanne 2/11/22
This was part of a larger NBC panel for TCA. I really enjoyed watching this show because it’s exciting. It really keeps you on the edge of your seat. The actors are really good. I would have watched it just because Morena Baccarin is always good. You may know her from “Firefly,” “Gotham” or the “Deadpool” movies. She’s always outstanding. Ryan Michelle Bathé does a good job as the heroine. Noah Bean is also in the cast; I loved him in many roles, such as “Damages” and “Nikita.” I interviewed Costa Ronin before, and he’s an excellent actor and nice person. Make sure you check it out! It’s a little bit like “Blacklist,” mixed with “Killing Eve” and “Blindspot,” and a dash of “Queen of the South.” Yet it’s definitely its own thing.
Most of the questions were directed at Morena Baccarin, so I asked a question for both women. Most of the good questions had already been asked. First, I told them how much I loved the show. Then I asked, “Did either of you have much input into either your character or the clothing that you get to wear in the show?” They kind of laughed at my question, which is fine. Morena replied that they did have conversations beforehand about their characters and how these two women related to each other. Their two characters are so tied together that you can’t have one without the other. She also said that “the clothing is very important to this character.” When we first see Elena, she’s “coming out of this box in a dress,” so they had trouble, at first, finding the right gown so that she could amazing. The effect she described is, “it’s a very strange and incredible moment to see this international arms dealer being captured in a giant ball gown.” She had tried on many dresses and hadn’t found the one she liked. She was on the Upper East Side of New York for a doctor’s appointment. She had some time to kill, so she walked into the Carolina Herrera shop and saw the dress immediately. She said to herself “That’s the one,” tried it on and sent the producers a photo of it. They did look into other options, but this was the one that she felt gives you the right feeling that they wanted Elena to invoke in the audience when they saw her coming out of the box. EP and showrunner Nick Wooton agreed. Once she found that dress, they tried to see if anything else came close, but nothing did. Morena joked, “And now I’m stuck with this dress forever.” Nick joked with her but then made it clear that she does change clothes at some point. Morena asked if Ryan had anything to add, but Ryan made her own joke by saying, “No. Val is just a bit of a sparrow… just rolls around in the dirt with the pigeons and just, kind of, gets on, stomp, stomp, stomp.” I think she was just saying that Val’s clothes are no big deal compared to Elena’s. It was a funny way of saying it, though.
Here are the questions asked by other journalists on the panel. Most of the questions were directed at Morena, since most people are probably more familiar with her work. Here are the questions for her. She was asked how it was being the lead of the show (since this is her first lead role). Morena thinks that she and Ryan are equal leads on the show and that Ryan gets more screen time than she does. She noted, “it’s fun to be No. 1 on the call sheet, but the work is definitely not all on me.”
She was also asked what about the script or character attracted her to it. She answered that she always wanted to play a larger-than-life character who plays for “high stakes.” Also, she liked the humor in the series and felt that it was a page-turner as she read it. She also enjoyed that it’s about two people who happen to be women. They’re both “after the same thing,” even though they’re on opposite sides.
Next Morena was asked if she had to do any type of physical stunt work or training for her, or what things she did to embody the “beautiful essence” of Elena. Morena told us that the accent was the biggest thing for her that she had to embrace and work very hard to perfect. It’s not one she’s done before, but it was “a lot of fun to create this part.” Going back to my question, she confirmed that she had a lot of discussions with the producers about the accent, who the character was, etc. She thinks Val has a lot more action to do than Elena.
Morena was asked if she thinks Elena will be an anti-hero that “the audience will root for.” Morena joked that the dress made her do “weird things” and then seriously agreed that she believes that Elena is not really a villain because she’s fighting for a good cause. Any “villain” has to have good reasons in their minds to do what they do. Usually it’s because of someone they’re connected to, which is the case here. She believes that anyone who watches the first episode or two will be rooting for both Elena and Val. Nick chimed in that the first arc of the show starts of looking like there’s a good guy and a bad guy, and then the series explores their characters, and some gray areas. Then there’s a “gradual shift over this ten day period of time.” It might end up in a very different place.
Morena was asked what new challenges the role has brought to her (which is a similar question to the one she was asked before). She answered it differently, though. The character is very complicated, so they get to explore who Elena is, what makes her tick, and “her emotional arc and life.” She’s always asking Nick what Elena’s motivation is in each episode so that she could make sure to know what drives her and to make her real, not like a cartoon. She’s had trouble with the accent and gets help from Costa with that. She stressed that, “the acts that are happening around her that she’s orchestrated are enormous.” She also had to make sure to “have fun” with the part. If she doesn’t have fun, then she loses the audience. It has to be “grounded in reality” and not too out there, so she’s always questioning whether she’s acting too broadly or not. She compares it to being in “bumper cars” while trying to find Elena.
Ryan was asked some questions. She was previously in “Boston Legal” and “All Rise” as lawyers, and now she’s an FBI agent. In real life, she went to Stanford and NYU. She was asked if she ever wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, etc. and how she decided to become an actor. Interesting question. Costa joked, “You could have had a real job is what he’s saying.”
Ryan replied that she did consider becoming a lawyer and an FBI agent. She also wanted to become a pilot in the Air Force and fly fighter jets, but she was told she couldn’t do that (probably because it’s very tough to get to do that job, especially for women). There were many things she wanted to do, but that led her to become an actor because then she gets to play all of these things. She’s glad that she doesn’t have to actually arrest or shoot anyone. Then she joked, “Jake and Nick know about my shooting” and Nick replied, “Steady aim. Steady eye. She’s dead eye.” Well, I wish I had asked whether he was being facetious or not.
Ryan was asked about graduating from Stanford. Issa Rae also came from there. She was asked if she saw that other black students were going there to build the drama program. She was also asked how she feels about starting a new show when her husband’s show is ending (she’s married to Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us”). Ryan praised Stanford and their “wonderful alumni community.” She noted that it was a Stanford woman that gave her “my first big job in Hollywood.” She told us that she’s sad about the end of the Pearsons and his show, just like she feels “all of America is.” She said that Sterling has made “great friends” there. She thinks that her starting a new show dovetails nicely with his ending and feels it would be too difficult to both be starting 2 new shows at the same time.
Another press person asked her about Val’s motivations on the show because she seems so “pure.” He wondered what else she’s about. Ryan let us know that each show is a new day in the story, so time passes differently there than out here in the real world. Her description made total sense, “”it’s like if you dropped into the worst five days of someone’s life, you would think that that five days was it, and you wouldn’t know that they like cheeseburgers” (for instance). She joked that she and Morean really tried to get it into the show that she likes cheeseburgers. Morena cracked her own joked, “We have a pitch for you after this,” so Nick replied, “Done. It’s already written.”
Ryan continued to explain that we don’t know too much about Ryan at first because she’s just so focused on these tough days in her life, not anything else that’s going on in her life. “right now,” she explained, “she’s got to get her girl and, in the process, unravel an international government conspiracy.”
Another reporter told Ryan how much she adores her and that she’s happy to see her in this cool show. She asked if she’s correct to assume that this is a type of Robin Hood story. Ryan agreed with that, and Morena agreed that there are definitely aspects of that other story. Ryan added that it has to do with what Elena does with the money, but she’s not allowed to tell us about it.
Nick explained that the story is more about the corruption going on in public institutions, that is “in plain sight.” Elena is pointing out the flaws in the systems. The real world flaws are informing their “narrative.” They have no shortage of real world issues to use for future episodes because of everything that goes on in the world.
Another fan of Ryan’s asked whether she would have time to be on “All Rise,” now that it’s on OWN, as well as “First Wives Club,” since she’s in this show. Ryan confided that she just loves “All Rise” and the people there. She especially praised star Simone Missick, whom she called a “queen” and compared her to “Nefertiti.” She hopes they can make the schedule work for her to be on “All Rise” as well.
Poor Costa had been largely ignored, so it was nice to see that someone finally asked him a question. He was asked about his character and what made him want to take the role. He’s played a criminal in many shows, such as “The Americans” and “Homeland.” Costa admitted that it’s “the best script I have read in the last two years.” He’s very excited to be part of it. It’s more than just a crime show. It combines many elements. It does have a lot of action, but there are “quiet moments” which show why the characters are doing things. It’s not a one-note show. He compared it to a symphony, saying, “you have a little bit of this, you have a little bit of that.” Each episode brings more incredible story. He really praised the writers and said he’s proud to be part of it.
Executive Producers Nick and Jake were asked if the series was shot in New York, or whether it was just a few external shots. He also asked if there were any financial considerations, such as tax credits, or if shooting was affected by the pandemic.
Nick confirmed that it was shot entirely in NYC. He joked, “Money has never entered into the conversation for one second about this show. It is shockingly carte blanche.” Nick loves the city. His mom was “born and raised in The Bronx,” and he’s spent a lot of time there. He described why he thinks it’s best place for any crime drama: “the density of humanity, the beauty of the sky line, the water, the range of socioeconomics. Everything about New York lends itself to a great show, as we’ve seen a thousand times and we’ll see many times more. To me it’s the most exciting city in the world to shoot in.” They did get tax credit but could have shot it somewhere cheaper. They chose New York instead.
A pulse-pounding high-stakes two-hander about Elena Federova, a recently captured international arms dealer and brilliant criminal mastermind who orchestrates a number of coordinated bank heists throughout New York City for a mysterious purpose. Her antagonist is Val Turner, the principled, relentless and socially outcast FBI agent who will stop at nothing to foil her ambitious plan. The gripping heist drama reveals how far some people will go for love, justice and the most valuable commodity in the world: the truth.
Morena Baccarin, Ryan Michelle Bathé, Costa Ronin, Jordan Johnson-Hinds, Kamal Bolden, Noah Bean and Mark Damon Espinoza star.
Nicholas Wootton writes and executive produces. Jake Coburn, Julie Plec, Emily Cummins, Andrew Schneider and Justin Lin, who directed the pilot, will also executive produce.
“The Endgame” is produced by Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, with Nicholas Wootton Productions, Jake Coburn Productions, My So-Called Company and Perfect Storm Entertainment.
Elena Federova, “The Endgame”
Baccarin recently starred in the film “The Good House” and has a role in the upcoming “Last Looks,” an action-suspense film opposite Charlie Hunnam. She is best known as the female lead in the “Deadpool” franchise. Other film credits include “Greenland,” “Ode to Joy, “Framing John DeLorean” and “Spy.”
Baccarin captured the attention of audiences and critics for her Emmy Award-nominated performance in “Homeland,” alongside Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. She began her career in “Firefly,” was a series regular on “Gotham” and the sci-fi drama “V,” and recurred on “The Mentalist.”
Baccarin is actively involved with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), whose mission is “to help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.” She also sits on the board of Waterwell, a civic-minded theater company that inspires audiences and students to change the world they live in.
Baccarin was born in Rio de Janeiro and moved with her family to New York at the age of 7. She is a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School and resides in New York with her husband and two children.
Ryan Michelle Bathé
Val Turner, “The Endgame”
In 2020, Bathé starred in the Emmy Award-nominated Amazon film “Sylvie’s Love” and CBS’ “All Rise.” Since 2019, she has starred in the BET+ series “First Wives Club,” based on the 1996 film. Her many television credits include “The Rookie,” “Empire,” “This Is Us,” “Army Wives,” “Retired at 35,” “ER,” “Boston Legal” and “How I Met Your Mother.”
On stage, Bathé has performed in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and “Much to Do About Nothing” at the Old Guthrie Theatre and Old Globe Theatre, respectively. She also co-starred in the musical “The Hot Mikado” at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C.
Two years ago Bathé launched Down on Maple Productions and signed a first-look deal with ViacomCBS MTV Entertainment Group. The partnership covers content created and/or developed for television and new media with the focus on identifying emerging talent and underrepresented voices.
She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an organization whose members are dedicated to sisterhood, scholarship and service. Combining her passion for helping children and philanthropy, Bathé is also a passionate member of Alliance of Moms, a membership-based program that supports pregnant and parenting teens in foster care in Los Angeles County.
Bathé was born in St. Louis and raised in Stamford, Conn. She graduated from Stanford University and earned her MFA in acting from New York University. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Sergey Vodianov, “The Endgame”
Costa Ronin plays Sergey Vodianov in the new NBC drama “The Endgame.”
Ronin, who was born and raised on the west coast of Russia, recently completed principal photography on the independent feature “ISS,” starring opposite Chris Messina. He was recently be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and is best known for his roles in the hit drama series “The Americans” and “Homeland.”
Other TV credits include “Splitting Up Together,” “Extant” and “Gotham.
Executive Producer, “The Endgame”
Nick Wootton is an Emmy Award-winning television writer and producer. He has written for various critically acclaimed drama series, including “Chuck,” “Prison Break,” “Law & Order,” “NYPD Blue” and “Scorpion.”
Wootton won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 1998 for his work on “NYPD Blue.”
Proofread and Edited by Brenda