In the season three premiere, there’s that great scene where Barry appears to be on the verge of killing Gene, and Barry says, “Forgiveness has to be earned,” and Gene fires back, “Then fucking earn it!” Do you think there’s a world where Gene could ever forgive Barry? Is there any coming back for them?
To tell you the honest truth, I don’t think so. Gene, I’m sure could somehow rationalize, “He was doing his work, he was led astray.” But he ripped the love of my life out of my ventricle. I think there’s no going back from there.
I was struck by the finale ending with that dialogue-free sequence. The police leave; Jim leaves; the camera lingers from a distance on Jim, a supporting character we just recently met. What did you appreciate about that unspoken final moment between these two men that shared a love for the same woman?
Here’s what I appreciate, something I’ve known from the beginning: They do their vision, and that’s just the way it is. Bill has said to me several times that HBO is an incredibly supportive organization, [but] I do know that they said to Bill, “Couldn’t we have just one laugh in episode 8?” And the only laugh was Bill laughing, going, “Ah, I’m so sorry.” But Bill said to me, literally yesterday, “Jim Moss does not want to go back in that house.”
You mentioned Bill is writing season four as we speak. Have you had any conversations with him about it, or are you going to just stick with your usual go-to question for each season and only ask whether Gene dies or not?
That is my question. When I talked to him, I said, “I only have one question: Am I dead?” And then he laughed and said, “No!” But there are eight episodes—I have to survive.
Speaking of you doing some dramatic work, congratulations on the exciting news that you and your son Max are collaborating together on King Rex, a limited series for HBO.
Oh my god, Derek, can you believe that?! Do you have children?
Okay, well, you sound very young. But if you ever do, and it comes to this… I was in every student film of Max’s. I was in films when he was in the fifth grade, lying down in the rat-infested ivy behind the house, and he’s never invited me to a professional party. And all of a sudden he called me during the pandemic, over a year ago, maybe two: “I have a great story, here it is.” I said, “Oh wow, I don’t totally get that story.” He said, “I’ll come back to you with more facts.” And now we sold it to HBO, with his friend Malcolm [Spellman], and they’re writing it. And if it comes to fruition—”if,” because in this world “if” is a very big question—I will be directed by my son Max. I don’t even have language that we know on this earth for what I feel.
I know how special that has to be, so let’s hope that “if” turns into a “when.”
If you have children, one day, whenever it is, you will know this moment in a thousand different ways. This moment, in a completely different complexion, will present itself to you and you will dissolve into a puddle in your sneakers. And Derek, you better call me and tell me when it happens.
That’s a deal, Henry.