Paradise isn’t always as delightful as it seems. In the case of Peacock’s new series, The Resort, paradise is the scene of an unsolved mystery. William Jackson Harper and Cristin Milioti star as Noah and Emma, a married couple celebrating their 10-year anniversary at the Oceana Vista Resort. Their marriage has come to a standstill, and they desperately need something to spice it up. Emma soon learns about two former guests, played by Skyler Gisondo and Nina Bloomgarden, who went missing on the eve of a hurricane in 2007. Emma and Noah are thrust right into the action as they attempt to solve the mystery, but soon learn they’re not the only ones who want answers.
The Resort is created by Andy Siara, who wrote the time loop rom-com, Palm Springs. Luis Gerardo Méndez, Gabriela Cartol, and Nick Offerman round out the cast. In an interview with Digital Trends, Siara, Bloomgarden, and Cartol spoke about the unique concept behind the show as well as the chemistry built between the cast members while filming in Puerto Rico.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Digital Trends: I wouldn’t say that solving a crime and exploring marriage go well together, but you manage to make it work. Did The Resort start as two separate ideas and then you brought them together? What was the inception behind this idea?
Andy Siara: About eight years ago, it was a kind of a coming of age indie comedy-drama thing about a kid who goes down to a resort with his family. Some earlier version of Sam. And then he strikes up this friendship with this older couple who are there celebrating their 10-year anniversary, trying to figure out what happened to their marriage. That’s some earlier version of Emma and Noah. That script was not very good. [laughing] So I put it away, never to see the light of day because it’s just not very good. But I could never like totally quit it. So every year, I would go back to it and kind of dismantle it and rebuild and try to figure out a new way.
After several failed attempts, I realized I was not only looking at the initial inspiration behind the script, but also the characters and where I was at the time of writing the script through a nostalgic lens. That’s when I split up the characters over these timeframes. Emma and Noah, in the present day, trying to solve what happened to Sam and Violet, but also what happened to their own relationship over the past 15 years. And within that, that’s when this mystery component came on to us. That’s what kind of brought in this whole other side of the show.
Sometimes, The Resort deals with serious topics and subjects, but other times, it’s about jokes and romance. Did you find it difficult to balance the seriousness with the humor?
Siara: Oh yeah. It’s very hard, and at times, it doesn’t work. Sometimes it’s like, “Maybe you went a little too far on that one.” I like this tonal line of going from the silly to the sincere. Having one foot on the banana peel and the other in the grave. There were nights where I would say that all throughout Palm Springs. Laughter is how we get through life, [and] how we connect to people.
But also, sadness and tragedy are also how we connect to people. And so once we’re going back and forth between those two things, I feel like any genres can be piled on top of that as long as we keep the tone consistent. But it’s always a delicate line. Like maybe we went a little too far in the silly, comedic references that are happening so let’s pull it back the other way. But, we always want to stay away from heavy melodrama, too.
Nina, was filming in Puerto Rico one of the appealing elements for this role? You can be honest with me because I don’t blame you if it was.
Nina Bloomgarden: Absolutely. After reading the script, knowing that you’re going to be somewhere tropical, it was great. [laughing]
In Puerto Rico, I’m assuming you all were in close quarters. Did that help develop chemistry with the cast?
Gabriela Cartol: Of course, 100%. We became a family, and that was one of the things that I’m thankful for. There isn’t any way of working that I can think of if it’s not with a family group. You’re able to be there to tell the story, but also to hang around because, during the weekends, we would go out, and we would laugh, and we would have an amazing time. I think that chemistry went to screen.
When you did read that script, what about Violet could you relate to?
Bloomgarden: I related to Violet a lot. When this script came to me when I did my first audition, a month prior, I lost my own father. I think this the script coming [to me] and getting Violet, who’s dealing with the loss of her mom, was really, really magical because I was able to grieve through Violet and work some stuff out. Yeah, I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about other people and how they deal with grief because Violet was dealing with it in a different way than I was. Seeing that, you gain empathy for a lot of others.
What about Luna excited you to play this role?
Cartol: Every single bit. The fact that she goes back in time and forward. The fact that I could, as an actress, be able to play two people because she is one before and one after the hurricane. That to me was really attractive. Also, the plot line, the story, the cast, the creatives, [and] the challenge of acting in English. This is my first American show so I was up for it. I was like, “Yeah, I’m Luna 100%.” As soon as they told me that it was going to be me, the one playing her, I was like, “Yeah, I’m Luna.”
You touched on this, but you’re essentially playing two characters. What were the challenges of playing Luna in two different timelines?
Cartol: I think it had to do with body language. Every time I was back in 2007, I felt free. I felt reckless. I felt like I had this energy of moving forward the whole time and outside. But when it came to 2022, I feel like I needed to be a lady, and I needed to be more mature. All the things that the years have sunk in.
Violet meets Sam in a hilarious way when he crashes into a tree. Right away, you have this great chemistry. What was it like sharing scenes with Skyler?
Bloomgarden: So great. I mean he’s like a master at what he does. He’s been doing it for a while. This is my first big thing for film and TV, and so having Skyler as a scene partner was really, really great. We kind of met the first day on set during the head injury when I’m in the hotel room doing all that stuff. That was our first day shooting and that was just kind of perfect. We had just met each other, and Sam and Violet are just meeting each other. They’re in an awkward situation, which is putting me and Skyler in that same awkward situation. And so I think from there, we organically did our scenes as straight as possible. It worked out really well.
You also shared scenes with Nick Offerman. To me, he seems like the nicest, most down-to-earth guy. Is that true?
Bloomgarden: He’s a diva. [jokingly] No. He is truly the nicest person I have ever met. He’s lived so many lives. He’s so gracious and so kind to everybody, knows everybody’s name. I learned so much from him in life and in acting. Our chopsticks scene was improvised. He was genuinely teaching me to use chopsticks because he lived in Japan for a year.
Andy, you worked with Cristin on Palm Springs so you know how capable and talented of a performer she is. What about William made you think he would work well with Cristin?
Siara: Well, he and Cristin had worked together before. They were in a play together several, several years ago. I think they were playing a married couple who went through a divorce. But I remember Will was the first person we met with, Ben and I. Ben Sinclair, the director of the first four [episodes], had worked with Will on High Maintenance before as well. When we met with Will, everything he was saying about the character in the show is like the better version of this character that I could have never even thought of on my own.
After we were done, I was inspired to go dive back into the scripts, and then start shaping it around him [Will]. This is before he even jumped on board. But I think what he brought to it was injecting real life and lived experience into it. It was only part of the way there, and he took it the rest of the way there, inspiring me to go further into the scripts. Once we’re filming, I feel the scripts serve as a jumping-off point for him. My favorite moments of the show were little things, like the smallest subtle things, that he would throw in there that then make it feel like a real lived experience rather than just someone playing a part.
Did you have a favorite scene to film?
Cartol: The dancing scene. I was so looking forward [to it]. When I got that, I was like “Wow, this is amazing.” She dresses up, and she dances, and it was definitely one of the most amazing things in the show. My favorite scene in the show.
Bloomgarden: There’s a couple. I think in episodes five and six, there are two scenes where Skyler and I get to deal with different people so that’ll be really fun. In episode five, we deal with Ben Sinclair. He was the director for the first four. So getting to work with him on five was so fun. I was looking forward to it from the get-go. When I found out he was cast, I was like, “Yes.”
If you had to sell this show to someone who knows nothing about it, why should they watch The Resort?
Cartol: I would say you need to watch it because we live in an era where we like uniqueness. This show is unique. You’ve not seen anything like this before on TV, I can promise you that. And if not, then you come back to me and say that I lied to you. [laughing]
The first three episodes of The Resort will air on July 28 on Peacock, with one episode premiering each Thursday after that.
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