Brendan Scannell is a funny person and you’ll see because there are lots of jokes embedded within our interview. Scannell’s brand of dry humour definitely translates to the Rightor Doyle series Bonding, in which the multi-talented actor-comedian plays Pete, the best friend that we wish we had. I don’t think that we’ve seen a series quite like this one, and Brendan Scannell is an ideal fit for it.
The following is a condensed and edited version of our exclusive phone interview with the wonderful Brendan Scannell.
Brief Take: What do you think is the best way to watch this series?
Brendan Scannell: I think that start to finish is the way I’ve always done it and it’s one of these shows that is so digestible and so quick, it’s like 80 minutes or something like that. It’s actually more of a film broken up into parts. And for that, most of the responses that I’ve been getting is that people have watched it all the way through from start to finish, which is fun. I think it’s like a fun ride and each episode ends with something different. I got to watch it a couple of times in a theatre with big audiences and that was really gratifying to hear the laughs, but also the audience was connecting with the characters. So I would recommend watching it all the way through in one sitting, and then watching it like eight or ten more times.
BT: Since the series launched, you’ve probably gotten a great deal of attention.
BS: Well it’s definitely one of those projects where I read the script in 2017, and felt really connected to it immediately. And I knew it shot in New York and I had never really worked in New York. I really wanted that experience, so I fully anticipated only my parents ever seeing this. And it has turned out to be almost the exact opposite of that, it’s pretty wild. I think that if I think too much about this, I get anxious, so I’m kind of just enjoying the wave right now and having fun.
BT: And it’s about standup comedy and you’re a standup comedian.
BS: When I read it, I felt like someone had written what my weird version of Seinfeld or one of those types of shows in which the main lead is a comedian. But it’s like Rightor (Doyle) had made it for me, even though it’s based on his experience. Very rarely do I read things and think “I have to do this”, and I was so thankful to get that opportunity.
BT: You and Zoe Levin have a great rapport. Had you previously worked together?
BS: I actually saw her in a play in Chicago about 10 years ago, and I didn’t even meet her, so that was the only time. I didn’t really know of her personally. I was shooting this other project, and we wrapped that on a Thursday and then I flew on a red-eye L.A. to New York, Thursday night, got in Friday, I did a fitting on Friday and Saturday, I went to set and we shot the scene in the bathroom, in which she applies make-up to my face and the scene in the stairwell, in which I was punched and she was angry with me. And I think that I’d met her maybe a half an hour before that, so we really dove right into it. I love her—I think she’s fantastic and she’s just a really cool actress. I think that we were both so locked into our characters and who they are that I think that it became very easy.
BT: What’s something about this series that stays with you?
BS: I think that one thing about playing Pete that is really interesting is that I think that inside he has something that he feels that he wants to share and something that he wants to do, but he doesn’t have any confidence and he doesn’t have any chutzpah to go ahead and do it. So what I really liked was kind of finding his arc and finding the growth in him, and kind of having certain stuff in which he is able to find his confidence.
BT: Was there a particular moment that you noticed that an audience was really getting into the series?
BS: I woke at about 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the day that it came out and I didn’t really have that much of a response. So I woke up and I was like “well, live and learn” and I went back to sleep and I woke up at 9:30 and my Instagram was insane, so, it seems like it happened between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on the 24th. You know, people need a pick-me-up before work. I flew yesterday and I downloaded all of Tim Robinson’s new show (I Think You Should Leave) and watched all of that and that’s another one that’s 15-17 minutes. That’s fantastic.
BT: The penguin scene, as well as visiting the couple in particular were both really funny!
BS: The whole set felt really safe, in which we knew there some crazy things that were going to be happening every day. That was actually one of the least raunchy moments, but I really liked the fingerbanging scene with Alex Hurt, that was a lot of fun and they loved it, so there ya go. D’Arcy (Carden) is one of the best, obviously, and shooting that scene was fun because I just watched her, basically. She’s just such a genius and getting to work with her was a really cool experience.
BT: Did you know that it was going to be so cutting edge when you were filming?
BS: I think that Blackpills, while we were shooting it they were acting as the network, they’re all French and they are based in Paris, so I think that some of the stuff that I wouldn’t think would fly necessarily with an American network, they were like “yeah, why don’t you do more“, so I think that’s why the show is pushing some limits of comedy. I think Netflix has a kind of similar model with their creators, in which they take a similar hands-off approach and let the people that they hire make their shows, and that’s why it ended up being such a good match.
BT: What sort of content do you like?
BS: I’m really excited for the second season of Fleabag, that’s one of my favourite shows. And I have a friend who is in the new Netflix show The Society, I’m excited to see that as well. I think that what is cool is that there’s so much stuff now, that it’s such a consumer market in which you can find the thing that suits your taste and sort of quarantine yourself off into that world, if you choose. So I really like these smaller shows with singular creatives and I think that that is the type of stuff to which I tend to respond. Of course I watch Game of Thrones and will watch the spinoff as well. More than ever, especially on Netflix, the show drops before the reviews come in, so a lot of people are watching it before they’re getting another take on it.
BT: Do you think a show such as this one is the future of the industry?
BS: In terms of length, I think that the model is such that it can be anything now. It’s just a matter of making sure everyone’s getting paid appropriately for the work that they are doing. But I think that it is a very exciting time to be in “Hollywood”, so to speak.
Bonding is currently streaming on Netflix