The Big Door Prize’s Chris O’Dowd And David West Read On Theremins, Whistling, And What Happiness Means [Exclusive Interview]

And Chris, without getting into spoilers, your character is a great whistler. Did you have to practice whistling at all for the part?

Read: He’s a good whistler.

O’Dowd: We were talking about that a little bit. We got a professional whistler in because some of that stuff we were talking about doing was quite complicated. And I felt like I’ll do my own stunts but not my own whistles. I don’t know if you can train yourself to be a great whistler.

What did the consultant teach you, like the mouth shape? Or did he dub for you?

O’Dowd: No, he dubbed, yeah. remember watching a lot of YouTube videos for the theremin and the scooters. There was actually a few little tasks here and there to learn for this part. But there is a lot of s*** on YouTube about tongue placement and all of that kind of stuff for whistling. But it really speaks more to the idea that Dusty could whistle his way through life, and thinks that he has been, is significant. It’s more of a scream by the end.

I wanted to talk a bit about casting. The entire cast is great and they all bring so much to their roles. Can you talk about the casting process and how you got in the core group?

Read: I mean, this is an incredible ensemble, I think, and that is important because the show has this unique thing of focusing on a different character with each episode, even though the overarching story moves forward. So there’s a real pleasure for me in casting people who in the first couple of episodes might seem like they’re more supporting, background characters and then they move more and more into the spotlight themselves.

But we started with Chris. This is awkward because he’s sitting beside me, but what I love about Chris is that he’s so naturally charming and funny, but he’s also a really good actor. And I wanted to have the ability to go deep with this character because there’s a version of this show that is much more like a standard sitcom. But with someone like Chris, there’s the latitude to just head in every different direction. And starting with him and building the cast around him, we applied that same principle of, “Let’s find people who have the most tools in their kit so that we can go anywhere we want with the show.”

And I love that there’s a lot of people who might not be well known to the audiences before the show, so you meet them as real people in this town and I hope will be blown away by how great they are.

Yeah, the actors who play the two high school kids [Djouliet Amara and Sammy Fourlas] are fantastic.

O’Dowd: It’s one of the first casts I’ve been on where … they’re a lovely bunch, but they’re also all from different backgrounds in a creative sense, which is so cool. So you’ve got old theater New York people and TikTok people, and European f****** like me and all of that. It’s a nice vibe to see people come to the same material from very different experiences.

Read: Yeah. The actress who plays Chris’s mom is only in one episode. She’s won the Tony Award for Best Actress. And then you’ve got Sammy [Fourlas, who plays the high school student, Jacob], who’s a TikTok star. He’s never done TV before and he’s unbelievably great on this show. So it really is this hodgepodge of people from all different backgrounds and experiences, but I feel like it’s part of what’s special about it.

So for Sammy, I had no idea he was on TikTok. How did you find him?

Read: I think he had representation from being on TikTok. And he just sent a tape, like everyone else. The other part of the casting process is once you see the person, you start to panic because then it’s like, “What if we can’t get this person now that I’ve seen them?” And Sammy was like that. As soon as we saw him, it was like, that’s Jacob.

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