Helen Hunt on Blindspotting, how her role started with a tweet, and more
Executive produced by Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs, who also starred in the film in addition to writing and producing it, the original half-hour-long Starz dramatic comedy Blind spot follows Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) after Miles (Casal, who is also the showrunner of the series), his partner of 12 years and father of their son, is arrested and sent to jail. Finding yourself in the less than ideal position of having to move in with Miles’ mom (Hélène Chasse) and half-sister (Jaylen barron), Ashley just wants to be left alone to raise her child as she sees fit, but it’s almost impossible to do when everyone has their own opinion of how she does it.
During a virtual journey for the poetic television series Oakland, Collider had the opportunity to have a one-on-one chat with Hunt about how his involvement with Blind spot started with a tweet, being part of a show that has a very defined vibe, the three things she had to have to feel safe during a pandemic, and what she enjoyed most about playing this character. She also talked about watching Tornado on her lawn with Casal and Diggs, and the similarities between her Blind spot and Girls just wanna have fun characters.
Collider: I love your character. Because you weren’t in the movie and it’s not just a TV show it’s really quite a vibe, how did they present it all to you? Did you go back to see the movie?
HELEN HUNT: I saw the movie. This is how it all started. I went to the theater and paid my few bucks, watched it, loved it, and tweeted about it. They saw that and commented on my tweet, and I commented, and we messaged, and the next thing you know, I was with these guys and we were talking about how much we’d like to do something together. And then you think, “What would that be?” We worked on some things and talked about it. We were spending time together during the pandemic, which meant on either side of my lawn, waving to each other. And I kept hearing about Blind spot the TV series. They were making drafts and new drafts. And then one day they were at my house and they just got a call saying Starz was going to do eight episodes of this show, so we drank champagne. They kept throwing these jokes about my participation, and I was like, “Are they kidding?” I didn’t want something weird to happen in the friendship, so I pretended it didn’t. And then, finally, Rafa [Casal] called and said, “We should stop pretending this isn’t happening.” It’s happening. We want you to be there. But we’ll love you, even if you’re not. They say they thought I was going to say no, but I don’t know why. I read a few episodes and told them about what I would need to feel good on the show and safe during COVID, and they promised everything I asked for and then kept those promises completely. It has been a great job for me.
Have you ever gotten anything else from a tweet like this?
HUNT: No, definitely not. I have really noticed that there have been many times in my life where someone wants me to say yes to a job, so whatever I ask they say yes, then you get there and a third of what I do. ‘we promised you would show up. It was totally the opposite. They have integrity, a great sense of humor and a joy in what they do. It was really fun to be around.
What were the things that were important to you that you wanted to make sure you had?
HUNT: There were three things. The first thing is that I wanted not to get sick. I’m older than the rest of the cast and I just said, “I can’t mess around with this, so I need to know how it’s going to be.” So I talked to their people about COVID and Rafa and Daveed [Diggs] were very buttoned up. I was like, “Okay, if I get out of my house, it’s as safe as it’s going to be.” So that was the first thing. The second thing was, like you said, it’s a vibe. I remember telling them, “Helen Hunt with a bad wig will ruin Blind spot. No matter what it will cost to get my look to be fair and real, we have to do it because it would be horrible for everyone. And they promised it. We did a lot of testing to make sure we all believed it. And then it was just that I could tell them about every episode and they explain to me what they wanted, or listen to me, if I had a thought or a question or if I didn’t understand something. . We have done this in every episode. It was a very transparent collaboration. So, those are three of the three things they gave me.
Having now played it for a season, what do you like about Rainey?
HUNT: She was fun for me to hang out with. She is basically me, if I was not controlled. She is a loud, clumsy ally, filled with love for her family and ready to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and ready to say, “I know more than you think. I identify with a lot of it. You start with a part that seems very foreign to you and you say to yourself, “How is it going to work? What is she going to wear? I don’t know how to play this. And in the end, she’s just the part of you that you let out of the cage.
She seems to be very open to who people are and doesn’t seem to want to impose anything, which makes the character dynamics so interesting.
HUNT: It’s keenly observed of you. I think you are right.
You don’t get judgment from him.
HUNT: No, and we’ve spent a lot of time working on it. How can she talk and take care of her child? A mother doesn’t feel anything when her daughter makes a living this way, but at the same time, she doesn’t want to judge or alienate herself. It was a very small threading needle. We spent a ton of time putting in and taking out lines, trying to make sure everything was motivated and, like you say, didn’t turn out to be judgmental.
What do you like about the dynamic she has, both with Ashley and with Trish?
HUNT: I think she comes like a loud big bull in a store in China, then has a good enough sense of humor to back off or make a joke about backing off, or bring the wrong gift and accept that. it was told her was a deaf gift she gave. I guess she has humility and courage. Maybe that’s what people love about her.
She seems to really care about people. She’s here for this kid, trying to find a book to teach him what it means to have his father in jail, which is so tragic and heartbreaking and real.
HUNT: Yeah, it’s an interesting turn. There is an argument about when Jasmine [Cephas Jones]The character of is going to tell Atticus Woodward, who plays my grandson, that his father is in jail, and I have a very strong opinion on that which is not the same as his mother’s. I remember feeling like I had to support her because she is the mother and you have to support the mother, but then I take matters into my own hands. It was a really interesting trick to play.
Have you also started having conversations about where you might go with this character in the seasons to come?
HUNT: I don’t think anyone’s willing to cast a spell until they’ve first picked it up, and then they want me to keep on being there. I do not know. I think they’re very busy finishing all of those eight episodes and releasing them.
I’ve been a dancer for most of my life and therefore Girls Just Wanna Have Fun was such a great movie for me. What memories do you have of having made this film and playing this fabulous character?
HUNT: It was similar to [Blindspotting] in a way – big and strong and encouraging and well meaning and embarrassing. I remember doing a lot of hair clips with the barber, using a hot glue gun, and putting a grasshopper on a beret. It was fun. This is probably the most similar part to any other part I have ever seen. It’s about supporting, whether it’s to support my friend or for my child. I’ve got your back. It is the spirit.
It’s been 25 years since Twister came out and it’s still a really fun movie to watch.
HUNT: It’s a good movie. I watched him with Rafa and Daveed on the lawn.
Are you surprised that this movie is still so fun to watch now?
HUNT: I am, except I saw it with them last year and I was like, “This movie deserves to be talked about again because it’s really good.”
Blind spot airs Sunday evenings on Starz.
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