With a 30-year career spent predominantly on the silver screen, Julia Roberts made the jump to TV for Amazon’s dramatic thriller Homecoming. The mysterious government facility at the heart of the show features some grim and complicated stories that offer viewers plenty of surprising twists and turns. For Roberts, though, the most unexpected part was the fact that Homecoming had so many moments where humor crept through the darkness.
Homecoming stars Julia Roberts and Shea Whigham talked with CinemaBlend’s own Jeff McCobb during a recent press junket, and the actress spoke to the drama’s genuine humanity lending itself to unexpectedly comical moments.
What struck me, and I think this just comes out of truth, there were some really funny moments. I mean, [Shea] has most of them — scene stealer. Dermot has some very funny things. Everyone has a moment. Walter and Heidi do some funny, quirky things. So I think that humanity in this really creepy, dark universe was unexpected and welcome.
Having seen the ten episodes that comprise Homecoming‘s first season, I can attest to the Amazon original indeed drawing laughs out between other moments of white-knuckled WTF-ness. As Julia Roberts put it, it’s the truth of the scenes and situations that creates moments where Homecoming can slip slices of humor in without completely derailing any of the tension or the weirdness. Humans are the most awkward creatures.
It’s often because of how heavy the episodes are that the funny moments become all the more noticeable. But perhaps it shouldn’t be all that shocking that Homecoming strays into funnier territory than what its thriller mystery narrative lays out there. After all, Julia Roberts is romantic comedy royalty, so she’s no stranger to amusing banter.
Roberts is also no stranger to acting in projects alongside her My Best Friend’s Wedding co-star Dermot Mulroney, who plays her character’s boyfriend, Anthony. Mulroney tends to be associated with dramas, but he’s shown off his comedic chops this year in Arrested Development, L.A. to Vegas and Rob Riggle’s Ski Master Academy.
Meanwhile, Shea Whigham is a vet of projects like Boardwalk Empire and American Hustle, and he absolutely takes way more serious roles than comedic ones. However, his work in Vice Principals and Fargo (among other off-kilter roles) speaks to how enjoyably varied his performances can get with the right material.
To both Julia Roberts and Shea Whigham, Homecoming didn’t even particularly feel like a TV show when they were in the process of making it. According to the pair:
Roberts: I don’t even feel like I’ve had a television experience after this, because we did it like a film.
Whigham: It is experiential. It’s not a gig, it’s not a job. It’s starts with Sam, it starts with [Julia], and they create that. It’s not television. I don’t know what television is anymore.
Homecoming isn’t Julia Roberts’ very first TV role, as she’s been in Miami Vice, Friends, Murphy Brown and more. Not to mention her work in TV movies like The Normal Heart or unscripted projects like Running Wild with Bear Grylls. This is the first time she’s been a regular cast member on something, though, Not that anyone can tell, considering how hard she nails it.