Netflix’s ’13 Reasons Why’ has become a worldwide phenomenon since its release on March 31. Brian d’Arcy James, who plays Hannah Baker’s dad, talked to HollywoodLife.com EXCLUSIVELY about the potential for a season 2, the controversial suicide scene, and more.
The end of the first season left it wide open for a season 2. Do you want to continue the story?
Brian d’Arcy James: Oh, yeah. Selfishly, yes. There’s so much road to travel. Not only because of the consequences and the aftermath and the despair and the emotional state. There’s so much to be mined from that dramatically. There’s a lot of potential to explore. So, yes, I would love to see more and to see if it has a possibility of extending beyond a first season. That would be exciting to me.
The suicide scene has garnered controversy since the show’s release. How do you feel about the graphic depiction?
I think it was a brave decision, and it fits in the story and the style and the moments that preceded it. No punches were pulled preceding it, so it makes sense to me that stylistically that’s where the story went. I also understand that it’s going to provoke a lot of conversation, and that’s a very good thing I think. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not a mental health expert, so I certainly respect anyone’s reaction to such a scene, but at the end of the day it’s a story that we’re telling. It’s a part of the particular story that, hopefully, isn’t the defining aspect, but it is obviously an important part. It can illuminate the things that precede such a tragedy in way that might shine light on how these things occur and how communication does and doesn’t occur along the way. I think it fits into what Brian’s vision was and Jay Asher’s vision of the book, so I think it does work.
How did you get into the mindset of a grieving father?
I’ve never experienced that thank god. I have a 15-year-old daughter, so it strikes home as it would any parent of a child at any age of just your desire to protect them and keep them safe and want them to achieve their potential in this life. So the devastating consequences of that being taken away are just unimaginable, and yet that was my job. So that was part of it. Ultimately, what you’re left with is the key, if you will, which is what’s written, the script by Brian Yorkey. So that gives you the parameters, that gives you the context, that gives you the particular situation and how it unfolds. That’s your rule book. Brian Yorkey is so extraordinary at painting complex and very potent pictures, and in this case, of grief and something as harrowing as this. And of course the research that you do to try and figure out how people deal with a loss. The many ways it can manifest itself from just paralysis to delusion, the basic Kubler Ross stages of grief. All those things are applicable, and as an actor, you can try to mold certain moments of that process of grief throughout the season in terms of how the character is perhaps feeling, whether it’s denial or bargaining or paralysis or delusion and the acceptance, etc. I would say just mainly trying to understand from reading real accounts of people having to deal with this but mostly Brian Yorkey’s great script and the actors’ imagination.
One of my favorite scenes was when you and Kate Walsh are about to send Hannah off to the school dance. Mr. and Mrs. Baker never envisioned a world where Hannah wasn’t in it, so knowing what the future holds for them just devastated me.
That is really when story takes hold, because that’s a simple scene and the key to that scene is basically a happy family. I know what it’s like to see my daughter do something and just watch her fly. It’s as simple as that, so then story takes over contextually. That’s just a great example of great storytelling, and how the juxtaposition of two images of that family and how the story’s being told is devastating when put back-to-back. Not to take anything away from Kate and I, but overall, if the story is being told in a way that’s compelling and interesting like that it has more of a punch to it.
Hannah’s parents don’t have a huge role in the book, but they were a huge part of the series. What was it like expanding on the characters?
In a way it was great because you could kind of dive off course, if you will, since there was no real map for them other than the terrain you saw in the book, which was fairly limited. And so, there was a chance to kind of create the Baker family in a new way that was again directed and paved by Brian. There was freedom in that. There’s nothing more exciting than breathing life into a character, especially when you have a template for it, but then you know you’re actually expanding the boundaries of the character. That’s very appealing in a character.
Why did you decide on the role of Mr. Baker?
For me, it comes down to two people: Brian Yorkey and Tom McCarthy. Tom directed the first couple of episodes, and he’s an executive producer of the show, and I had just done Spotlight with him. Brian Yorkey is the showrunner and is the braintrust of the whole season. I had worked with Brian on a beautiful show called Next to Normal, a show that he won’t the Pulitzer Prize for. So I knew both of these men equally. I knew their talents, and I knew their character, and they’re just stellar people with brilliant minds. They’re creative geniuses, so the combination was a no brainer when the possibility to join the show came along. It almost didn’t really matter what the subject matter was. If these two guys were in the boat, I was going to get in, too.
13 Reasons Why season 1 is currently streaming on Netflix.
HollywoodLifers, do you want to see at 13 Reasons Why season 2? Let us know!