It's the Real-Life Rapport Between Its Stars That Powers 'Santa Clarita Diet'
“By the way, I thought of another person I would put on the kill list,” says Drew Barrymore to co-star Timothy Olyphant, in the middle of a roundtable interview promoting their Netflix series, The Santa Clarita Diet.
The series, if you have yet to watch it, revolves around Sheila and Joel Hammond, a suburban couple who are managing a few things: their occupations as realtors, raising their teenage daughter Abby, and dealing with the fact that Sheila is now the undead. It is in equal parts gory and hilarious, and a solution derived within the first season to manage Sheila’s appetite for human flesh was a kill list of people the world (or at least Santa Clarita) could stand to be rid of anyway.
Barrymore continues on to say, “He worked at the ArcLight movie theater.” She says the usher wouldn’t let her in as the previews had already started, and her entering would supposedly have been disruptive. She argued a number of valid points: is getting up mid-film to use the bathroom not allowed either, as that is also counted as disruption; she bought her ticket and should be allowed to enter like everyone else; she thinks previews are too long, sets her up to be discontent with the actual film, and just doesn’t enjoy them. The usher stood his ground. “I wanted to turn to him and say, ‘Do you know what a big f*ckin’ deal it is that I left my goddamn couch, when I could’ve f*ckin’ stayed at home, in the comfort of my own house? And your goddamn establishment should be lucky anyone patrons here, you motherf*cker.’ I didn’t. I went home and I drove home crying.”
Olyphant, who’s been interjecting with a good number of quips the entire time, punctuates this anecdote perfectly with a big smile, saying, “America’s sweetheart, ladies and gentlemen.”
The camaraderie between the two actors is comforting. She is as one would expect: warm and effervescent, with the added charm of being a potty mouth. He is quick with the one-liners, both the witty and the introspective varieties.
After all the absurd and comical amount of blood and gore, at the center of Santa Clarita is a truly loving family
The two go off on a tangent as to which Netflix show would make the best crossover (much like Scandal meets How To Get Away With Murder), and cannot agree between his pick of the Western Godless and her pick of The Crown. They eventually agree on Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, creating a storyline where the Fab 5 is shooting down the street from the Hammonds in Santa Clarita, and Sheila is desperate to have them over, whereas Joel thinks it might not be the best idea. “It’s a great idea. It just happened, and you guys were here for it,” Mr. Olyphant says to the roundtable.
Their rapport has the same endearing undertone that cuts through the entire series. After all the absurd and comical amount of blood and gore, at the center of Santa Clarita is a truly loving family, anchored by the rock that is the relationship of Sheila and Joel. Mr. Olyphant, although he himself has been married for over 20 years, says that while he loves his wife and would do most anything for her, he would (understandably) be out the door the second she started eating people. But he also admits, with a very shy smile, that there is a lot more of him in Joel than he’d like to admit. “I’d like to think that I’m cooler, but I’m really not,” he says with a big laugh.
"We want a loving, supportive, moralistic, awesome f*ckin’ partner in this world who will face everything hand in hand."
“My best friend Cameron—I don’t want to be a name-dropper so we’ll just call her Cameron—is like, ‘This is the most you I’ve ever seen in anything you’ve ever done.’ I’m like, ‘Sans the eating people, I’m guessing,” Ms. Barrymore says to the laughter of the rest of the room. “I am very lucky. I think Victor [Fresco] wrote a really amazing woman character, and he’s a man, and I don’t know how he did that. But he also wrote a man who is seriously what women want. We want a loving, supportive, moralistic, awesome f*ckin’ partner in this world who will face everything hand in hand. I can’t imagine any woman on the planet not wanting their spouse to embrace [the] change [they’re experiencing] and support them alongside of it, while staying rational and showing limits. Because there is a real narcissism to doing everything you want and saying anything you feel, and there are times and places where it may or may not be appropriate, and Joel is a good barometer for that.”
As the show rolls into its second season, dropping on Netflix this March 23rd, the stakes invariably get higher and the Hammonds’ grip on normalcy proves to be a challenge. “I’m reading storylines and thinking, how will they write it into a place where there’s still a sweetness and an endearing quality, because they’re pushing the boundaries so far? And they always do,” says Barrymore.
Olyphant remarks, “I find the second season was even more fun than the first. It was fun to do it, it’s a better show, and it’s always fun to feel like you’re part of something that’s just continually improving, surprising you. I thought the storylines this year were inspired. They were just very refreshing, very funny. And I think we all did a great job of kind of grounding it.”
“People go about their lives day after day after day, and when something jolts them into a whole new life, it can also be fun and invigorating and sexy and empowering, and you’re finally dealing with crazier issues rather than the minutia of your job everyday. It was a balance of all this craziness and taboo, and how this couple goes with the flow and gets stronger and more supportive and more in love while trying to figure out how to be good people still because they’re dealing with some crazy stuff,” says Barrymore.
“As crazy as the premise is, as funny as the show is, it really is an inspiring couple,” Olyphant says.
And Drew agrees: “They’re really like, couple goals,” She takes a sip of her drink thoughtfully, and smiles, adding, “Well, murder aside.”
Season two of The Santa Clarita Diet premieres on March 23.