Exclusive Interview: David Schwimmer Reveals 6 Things To Know About His New Sitcom, Intelligence
The actor of Friends fame leaks all about the spy sitcom
David Schwimmer knows what makes a smash sitcom.
Starring as Ross in Friends he became one of the most recognisable faces on the planet; now, the actor is starring and co-producing in an all-new spy sitcom, ‘Intelligence’.
‘Intelligence’ is a workplace sitcom, set in GCHQ, the UK’s government organisation for protecting national security - described as a “a weedier, geekier, more bureaucratic version of MI5”. Schwimmer stars as cocky American intelligence agent Jerry, drafted in from across the pond to join the Cheltenham team, with series creator and writer, Brit comedian Nick Mohammed, joining him as the office’s hapless computer analyst, Joseph.
“What my character lacks in experience he makes up for in confidence, which is a particularly American quality right now,” explains Schwimmer.
Schwimmer also co-produces the show - he’s been involved with it from early on in development, having worked with Mohammed on a comedy pilot before (‘Morning Has Broken’ a spoof breakfast TV programme starring Julia Davis).
While the backdrop to the comedy in ‘Intelligence’ may be high stakes, the comedy comes from the stuff that’s considerably not: expect socially awkward colleagues and bake sales and printer jams going on inbetween fighting terrorism.
Packing a lot of comedy into each 20-minute episode, it’s truly laugh-a-minute stuff that anyone who has ever worked in any office environment will relate to. Drone hacking or not.
And you can expect this comedy series to be big. Even though a single episode hasn’t aired yet, Season 2 is already being discussed, reveals Schwimmer: “Yeah, fingers crossed. We'll find out very soon. Maybe this week! I mean honestly, we'd be delighted to do it.”
All episodes of ‘Intelligence’ will be available on Sky One and NOW TV on 21st February 2020 .
1. There's a lot of bromance
“I think for both of us, there's a deeper need that the other fulfills. Jerry has huge need variants of fear and has a need for affirmation and approval, and power. So falling into that relationship of having Joseph as a younger brother - or a PA - feels very natural for Jerry. We also learn in the series that he's coming from a particularly fragile place.We'll learn his backstory, but also that he's recently been betrayed by both his best friend and his wife. So, he's got a lot of trust issues, but what he really wants is another companion, because the people closest to him have abandoned him. His relationship with Joseph, it becomes a bromance: there is a deep need that the other fills for the other.
2. The secret to a good comedy is...
“Honestly, when you're shooting a comedy, it's really helpful that it's actually a joy to make. I've been on other projects or movies where they are comedies but it's just not a joyful set. And I have to say, it makes a critical difference.”
3. One particular day’s filming sent the cast ‘batshit crazy’
“We definitely had a few moments where - and the other cast know this very well - where we couldn't stop laughing, and it became problematic for our director, Matt. (Sorry again, Matt). In particular, one day that was the hottest day of the year, it was a wedding scene. It was really mad and kind of delirious. We were just batshit crazy.”
4. It's the ultimate form of light relief
“I think we need that kind of relief and release. Because we're all struggling every day, with so many issues, and it's not an easy time we live in. So to be able to play a character like this, with his misogyny, his racism, his homophobia: It's quite cathartic to be able to do that and find a way for all of us to present a show that offers a release from everything we're living with. If we could take 21 minutes out of your day and make you forget or let you release it through laughter, then I feel like that's our job.”
5. Intelligence borrows from Schwimmer’s life in a very specific way
“There's a sequence in the first episode, where Jerry's leading everyone in a game called ‘Jerry Says’. It’s like the game ‘Simon Says’. So actually, there's some personal history with that. I've always done a game with my theatre company in Chicago, and with any cast of a play, or anything I’m directing, I play a game called ‘Schwimmer Says’, which is a version of Simon Says, but it's really fast and really intense and hardcore - and maybe this says a little too much about me personally, but I would enjoy nothing more than leading every you right now in game of Schwimmer Says. But we won’t.
"But filming it was really fun because our director Matt just got a bunch of cameras going, and we knew we were gonna have to cover this from a bunch of angles and do it a few times. And we just improvised, everyone just went for it. When I told everyone to fall down, everyone just fell. It was really fun. Luckily no one was really hurt.”
6. But the show hasn’t done anything to quell Schwimmer’s anxieties about real-life hacking
“No, I just always assume I'm being watched. Doesn't everybody at this point?"