CBS All Access has released its latest original streaming series Interrogation starring Peter Sarsgaard as Detective David Russell. This fresh take on “crime drama” allows viewers to choose their own path through the first season and step into the shoes of a detective trying to crack the case. Episodes one and ten are designated to be watched first and last respectively, but the other eight episodes can be watched in any order, allowing for a unique experience to viewers watching around the world.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke to Sarsgaard about the show’s unique approach to a streaming series, his character’s troubled past and how he believes this show can impact people.
MW: Good morning Peter! I want to just jump right into things right off the bat here, because Interrogation is such an interesting idea for a show and I’m always curious when a new series is about to start, what was it about this script when you first saw it or something the producers or director sold you on that made you want to take on this role?
PS: Well I met with Anders, who was our Scandinavian creator, and he just had very different ideas about television than I heard before, he was just really treating this new kind of digital roll out, well it’s not so new anymore, but that idea, almost like somebody who had just stepped into it, and ‘oh we could do it this way.’ The whole idea of watching it out of order is obviously something you couldn’t do with television 20 years ago. Anders was really taking advantage of format in a way that I really thought was interesting. That was before I started learning about character or anything like that, that I got interested.
MW: Very cool and obviously true crime is all the rage now; Interrogation gives a different spin on that genre. What was the process like shooting a show like this, was it anymore difficult with the potential for entire episodes to be watched out of order?
PS: I mean; we always do things out of order as actors. It’s very rare that you get to shoot something in order, it almost feels strange to shoot something in order. Because of the way this story was told though, where it keeps folding in on itself, it’s not a conventional narrative. It didn’t matter as much. In a film there’s a very clear beginning, middle, and end. This happened right before the scene that you’re doing, this happens right after and because people will come at this from different points of view, different episodes than the one we’re currently working on, I just didn’t bother thinking about that stuff very much. Which was nice.
MW: Almost like a weight off your shoulders in a way.
PS: Yeah, because I always found that I’ve always been a story teller, I was a writer before I was an actor. Narrative story to me is very important and there’s certainly a lot of story in this. The conventional thing, the way we work our way through a story can get pretty tiresome after you’ve done it your whole life.
MW: Your character Russell is a super complicated guy because of his backstory, which I don’t want to give away too much of right now, but how do you think he’ll be perceived by the fans?
PS: I don’t know. I truly don’t know the way he’ll be perceived by people, which is interesting to me. I do think there can be some people that empathize with him, certainly plenty of people who loathe him. I found him totally defensible all the time. Anytime it didn’t seem like the story was supporting him as a person, I would say that’s something.
It’s something I think we all know about, the idea that the sense of shame can keep you from correcting your behavior or admitting mistakes. I think that’s something that we all could be thinking about right now is, just being able to say ‘you know what I did was wrong, that’s not right, let’s start again.’ Very few people can admit their mistakes in a way that is genuine.
MW: Right, it’s never too late to start over either, people find themselves down a certain road and it’s like ‘well I’ve gone this far might as well keep going.’
PS: Yeah, like I’ve gone this far and if I were to go back and admit to everything that happened I would destroy my life.
MW: Right, now last question before I let you go, we talked about how you’re not sure how your character will be perceived. How do you want the show to be perceived by fans? What do you want them to take away from it?
PS: One of things I would love for people to take away is that we have this issue with the truth and with understanding reality and facts right now, that there’s so much debate about whether it was cloudy or sunny on a given day because of the way people are getting their information through the internet and coming from all these different points of view. I think this is something this show can highlight, that if you’re talking to someone who watched the show in a different order than you did, it would be interesting to think ‘wow we watched all the same material but in a different order so we have a different idea as to what happened.’ I think that’s a big, strong takeaway in which the times we live.
MW: Right a unique thing, like you said the streaming isn’t exactly new anymore, but a very fresh take on it. Well Peter it’s been great to speak with you today and all the best with the show!
PS: Thank you for having me!
The first season of Interrogation is available now to stream on CBS All Access. Start your 7-day free trial here.