Edi Patterson on Exploiting His Identity for 'The Righteous Gemstones'

This interview contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of “The Righteous Gemstones.” It’s almost impossible to find a Judy Gemstone q...


This interview contains spoilers for the Season 2 finale of “The Righteous Gemstones.”

It’s almost impossible to find a Judy Gemstone quote that can be said aloud in a real church. When the character isn’t cursing or belittling her siblings, she’s referring to profane sexual acts and organs — all things unfit for a place of worship (and in print).

But beneath Judy’s abrasive, hypersexual surface is a decidedly calm and collected Edi Patterson, an actress, writer and producer of HBO’s “The Righteous Gemstones.” Trading her straight hair and chill demeanor for a curly wig and an ungodly amount of glitter, she transforms into Judy, the rambunctious middle child of a Southern megachurch preacher family, yearning for validation and has no semblance of a filter.

Patterson, who first worked with show creator Danny McBride on the HBO series “Deputy Directors(which he created with Jody Hill) acts alongside her and Adam DeVine, who plays Judy’s older and younger brothers – both of whom are as stunted as she is by sibling rivalry, maybe more.

Season 2 of the series, which ended on Sunday, delved deeper into the drama of the Gemstone family, making new forays into real estate, motorcycle ninjas and Judy’s relationship with her beta husband, BJ. (Tim Baltz). After an assassination attempt on family patriarch Eli (John Goodman) threatened to tear the gems apart, the season finale brought the entire clan together for a birth, a death, and, of course, a final issue. musical.

It also revealed a softer side to Judy – even though her dialogue was still largely unprintable.

“It’s fun for people to watch Judy because she does things they want to do and says things they really mean, and I think it’s fun to watch someone play id “, Patterson said. “I’m really grateful to be able to run as fast as possible and let it rip.”

During a recent video call from her hotel room in Winnipeg, Canada, where she was filming the movie “Violent Night” with David Harbor (“Stranger Things”), Patterson discussed BJ’s baptism, the experience of Eli’s impending death and why we can’t keep our eyes on Judy. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Where do you think Judy fits in the Gemstone hierarchy, being a middle child and the only child?

Unfortunately, the default of this kind of system is very patriarchy-centric, so it has a lot to prove. And she knows that she is equal and as good as her brothers. But that’s part of the fun – she’s in a system where she’s going to have to prove it, probably over and over again. So that sums up all his emotions about wanting to prove things; want to excel; wanting to be bad; all.

How do you think Judy has changed over this season?

Well, she took a big swing by getting married at Disney World without her dad. It was a big, “Well, I’ll show them…” and then she immediately felt bad. She has a lot of teenage emotions and angst.

This season, she’s probably getting closer to what she wants, with BJ being more accepted than him. She also has a bit of an emotional epiphany with Tiffany [Judy’s younger aunt, played by Valyn Hall] — essentially going from feeling like Tiffany was a mildew growing on something in her fridge to actual care and love. It was a really cool progression. Real people never have a giant turnaround that you see in movies, like, “Now I’m a different person, and I’m totally better off.” I love the ups and downs that gemstones have emotionally.

This storyline where Judy and BJ sort of become Tiffany’s parents is a fun choice. What did it mean to bring out in each of them?

We wanted to show Judy’s depth a bit and show that she’s complicated, manly and complex. Like, yeah, his barking is loud and intense, and there’s a lot of that happening to you. But there’s also empathy in there, and she can honestly get hurt, and she can honestly care about whether or not she hurt someone else’s feelings. It was fun to show that she’s actually not a full-blown narcissist or sociopath.

Episode 4 really stuck with me as Judy and BJ’s big moment – what was it like writing, filming and producing all that baptism?

This episode was such a blast. We were able to kind of live on this crazy set for an entire week and a half, and it was such a pleasure and a luxury. ‘Cause the set where we had BJ’s party felt so real and so… I don’t know… you been to Vegas?

I do not have.

Vegas has this weird, weird vibe where some hotels can actually be so blown out they almost feel cozy. Something inside you says, “I can safely detach and everyone is taking care of me.And I don’t know, this room looked like the cozy side of Vegas.

As the cheesecake factory effect? Where you have way too many things going on at once?

Totally! Wherever my eyes look, there is something interesting to look at. So it was just heavenly to be there for an extended period of time. And Danny directed that episode – it’s the only one he’s directed this season, and it’s so good. It was really fun because, for example, in the bathroom scene where I threaten BJ’s sister, Danny clearly knows when there’s room to play with it and go crazy and find things. And there were a few wild things we found while doing it, like smoking in the cabin or kicking the cabin door as a 1980s act of bullying.

Do particularly memorable lines, like “You can’t swallow the pie if you haven’t helped bake it”, come more often from the scripts or happen spontaneously in the moment?

Much of how they speak is in the craft. I’ve written this “pie swallowing” thing – a lot of times, I know it’s especially good for her if it makes me laugh and go, “Oh my God, that’s so stupid.” This is the highest praise for me. It’s probably just that it deliciously disgusted me.

In previous interviews, you mentioned that you watched a lot of horror movies when you were growing up. Where do you think the horror lies in “Gemstones”?

What’s interesting is that almost all of us who write on the show love horror movies. It’s probably also a question of direction, because David Gordon Green and Jody Hill [who have directed most of the episodes] both as horror movies. They’re really good at making things really suspenseful, or really dramatic, or a little scary, or really action-packed. The love of horror makes people don’t pull back and say, “Oh, that’s comedy.” This allows everyone to go further in all this.

You also said that Judy wore ice skater outfits when she performed. If you had to create a mood board of the things Judy finds glamorous, what else would be on it?

Oh man, that would be covered in ice skaters. There would probably be a bunch of Studio 54 stuff. Cher would be everywhere. I feel like Madonna’s debut would be all over the place: that would be a good part of this movement: [Patterson pulls one shirtsleeve down to reveal a shoulder.]

A lot of that would come from Judy’s kid brain of what was sexy and what was cool and powerful. I think a lot of his notions of things are just stunted.

There is a point in the season where Eli Gemstone nearly dies. What did it mean to evoke in the family?

It shows up so quickly that even though they’re all thinking, “I can do this,” they’re all immediately thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t want this. I just want it here. They all adore their daddy. Judy is very attached to her father and what he thinks of her. The second something terrible happens, all she wants is for him to be alive and well. Hence the vomiting. [Laughs.]

You grew up in Texas going to church every week. What do you think your Sunday school teachers would say if they saw this show?

wow. It depends on which Sunday school teacher. I can think of some people in the church I grew up in who would be very upset by what I do and probably never watch it – not even because they are a family of televangelists, but at cause of the curse. But a lot of church people love him.

The thing about our show is that we never make fun of religion, or people who are involved in religion, or believers. I think all gemstones are believers. They spoil a lot.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Edi Patterson on Exploiting His Identity for 'The Righteous Gemstones'
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