The actor spoke with us about Teddy and Tawney’s future, Daniel’s guilt (or innocence), and why filming in Georgia is so important.
When you watch a series like Rectify, you become amazed that there simply isn’t anything like it on television right now. You can count off the procedurals that deal with unsolved murders or the family dramas that keep us coming back week after week, but it’s a truly rare occurrence to watch a series that takes so much time to develop the people we’ve come to care about over the course of however many seasons. When Rectify premiered in 2013, it was lauded for its deliberately slow and beautiful pacing; two seasons later, it continues to earn raves from fans and critics alike for its patience in exploring the repercussions of Daniel Holden’s release from prison and the effects on the Holden family and small town.
While it has been fascinating to see the continued evolution of everyone involved, I’ve found one of the most interesting transformations to watch has been that of Teddy, played by Clayne Crawford. Teddy started out the series as a seemingly content, Frat-boy-esque, presence amongst the Holden clan. He had the steady job, the sweet wife, and was generally at peace with his place in the world. With the release of his step-brother Daniel from prison, we’ve seen Teddy’s life get completely fractured. And regardless of Teddy’s original demeanor, Crawford’s amazing performance has turned a once unlikeable character into a fully-imagined individual for whom we feel incredible empathy. I spoke to Clayne last week about Teddy’s gradual change in perception, and where he thinks the character goes from here.
First of all, congratulations on the early season four renewal. That’s fantastic news!
Clayne: Thank you.
I’m really loving the new season so far. A lot of people praise the show for its pacing and its attention to character. What drew you to this project originally?
Clayne: Many things. I think it was the detail that Ray has with each individual character. I felt like I had a connection with everyone from the Sheriff all the way to Daniel. I didn’t feel that anyone was written in a typical role. Television kind of follows guidelines of you’re the protagonist , the lead character, the strong character, the sympathetic, the emotional. And I feel like Ray allows everyone to be human in this story. Meaning they wear different hats at different times depending on the situation that they find themselves in. I mean the individuals that they’re communicating with, at that time. I had not read anything like that. And then, of course, I felt that it depicted the south in a way that I’ve never seen before, an honest way.
Did you identify with Teddy as a character right off the bat?
Clayne: I grew up with Teddies, right? I knew Teddies when I was in high school. And I think being an athlete growing up and being in locker rooms with these guys and spending time with these individuals that you realize that they’re jerks, or they’re perceived as jerks, because of their own sadness and their own insecurities. And I feel like American television has depicted these guys as being these just boisterous, confident, with the big hair and kind of good looking guys with their polo shirts on, and we never really see who these guys are. And I felt like I could bring a certain honesty to Teddy that wasn’t necessarily on the page in the first script that I saw. Then after communicating with Ray, I realized that he kind of had the same intentions that I felt that I could bring to it as far as the way he wanted to depict Teddy.
When the show first started, I looked at Teddy as kind of a jerk but I’ve completely flipped on that now. Teddy has had a tragic character arc of late between the assault, of course, and then the miscarriage, and then Tawney leaving. Can you talk a little bit about Teddy’s frame of mind and where he’s at right now?
Clayne: You know, I kind of describe Teddy as being the guy who’s clinging to the edge of a cliff and he’s losing his grip… So I think Teddy is kind of . . . he can’t make heads or tails of anything so I think for the first time ever, Teddy’s really looking inward. And I think Teddy has lived his life kind of building up these walls, like we all do, these barriers to prevent people from seeing how insecure we are, which is what I tried to do in that first season. I really wanted him to be a peacock. And I wanted to build his pedestal so high but at the same time quite unstable. I wanted it to have a wobble to it so that when things did start shaking, he started losing his balance and that fall would be quite great. And I think Teddy has now given into that fall. So I think at this point in season three, it’s kind of like the third act. So he’s kind of succumbed to the sadness and the misery and that life is never going to be what he thought it was and this idea that he’s been chasing. And I think that’s been his biggest thing to overcome and what he’s been fighting for seasons one and two. So now he finds himself kind of letting go and trying to find peace within this. And he’s really trying to move past Tawney. It’s extremely difficult for him but I think that’s his goal is to try to find himself a little bit in this way. And I think that’s why he asked his dad about mom. I think it’s finally all those things that he’s suppressed that make Teddy who he is, an insecure, sad, weak, little man who wants to cling to everything he has and he’s just losing it. I think he’s finally starting to go back and he’s wanting to explore who he really is and why he makes the decisions that he does. And I think that’s quite big for a guy like Teddy.
The Teddy and Tawney relationship is very interesting. I love both the characters separately but I’ve never really felt that they’re a good match for each other. Do you feel that they are or do you think that maybe they’d be better to flourish on their own?
Clayne: It’s difficult, right? You don’t have all the answers on the show, so you don’t know why or how. Adelaide and I are just now learning about our path this season. We’ve had ideas but I never knew what happened to my mother. Adelaide was never given much information about her past family. So I think we’re finding out with the audience. We’re learning that you’re dealing with two individuals that were in dire need of acceptance, unconditional love. I think it was something that they’ve yet to experience. You know, Teddy lost his mother when he was quite young and then when he went into this new situation, there was a mother who, she’s reeling with the pain from her son who’s locked up in incarceration. And I think once she begins to just accept that and come to terms with it, maybe let Daniel go, then she has Jared.
So Teddy was kind of always just left out, I think in a sense, from that attention and that love, especially from a female. The only attention he got from a female was negative which was through Amantha. And then Tawney, of course, has no family. So I think you can now, we’re able to see the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, right? And these guys just clung to one another. So maybe they were perfect for one another in their 20s but I think now that they’ve both taken bite out of the apple, so to speak, it’s difficult to go back. We’ve seen one another for who we really are and I think that’s what’s great about episode three is there was a moment in the scene where she comes back to the house and there was a moment where we both just kind of sat down. We didn’t know how to be with each other anymore but yet there was so much history. We didn’t know what to do.
And I think that, whether or not they’re right for each other, I don’t think anyone’s right for anyone until they’ve learned how to deal with themselves. You are dealing with two individuals who are in their late 20s early 30s who have never looked inward and have never addressed their issues in the past. So I don’t know if they’re right for anyone right now. Just like her with this Daniel thing, it’s very whimsical and magical, you know, but I think the true thing is for Tawney to have to go and find out who Tawney is and what Tawney really wants.
That’s a really good point. And you two have a lot of intense scenes together. One that sticks out in my mind was the scene last season, the confrontation that they have in the bedroom after the miscarriage. Both you and Adelaide really blew me away in that scene. Do you have to do a lot of preparation and rehearsing scenes like that? And are you able to pull yourself in and out of that kind of emotional intensity easily?
Clayne: First point is yeah, it definitely takes a lot of work. I relate acting to being a magician. You can’t trick yourself in this job, this business. You have to make that rabbit appear effortlessly, you got to do it a million times. So definitely a lot of work goes into it. Together, Adelaide and I, and then with Ray, the director, who’s going to be directing this episode.
And as far as when you’re in it I think it was nine, maybe 10 hours that we shot that scene. Tawney at one point just said, “I can’t do this anymore.” She drops to her knees and just starts bawling. That was Addy saying, “I can’t do this scene anymore. I can’t do the work anymore.” Addy’s had it. And it almost gets me emotional thinking about it. We just wore each other out. Intellectually you know that what’s happening is all false, fake circumstances, it’s make believe, you know? But your body just doesn’t understand that. And if you do it the right way, and I don’t think anyone on this show . . . It’s unlike anything I’ve ever worked with. I’ve never worked with this many professionals who genuinely provoke their bodies to the work. We have to, in this profession, these guys, the Meryl Streeps, they give everything and I think we all try to do that. And as a result, your body suffers, for sure. It’s like a stage play, you have difficulty I think coming down, dealing with the emotional stuff two hours right after. That’s the good stuff, I actually live for it.
You had mentioned how Teddy had brought up his mother. Are we going to learn more about her?
Clayne: I’m not sure how on far we’re going to go, I think the door’s open. I think we’re definitely going to go down the path of learning why Teddy is who he is and how his parents have affected his development. I think we’re certainly going to learn more about that. And I think through Teddy’s growth, we’ll kind of get a little bit more insight on mom. But it’s like when I asked Ray that first season, I was really curious what happened to my mother. He said, “Television, you got to leave the door open because you never want to make anything final.” So I think it’s always developing in the writers’ room, these individuals’ lives from season to season.
Obviously a big theme on this show is guilt and how that can eat away at you. When he was drunk in the car, why do you think Teddy chose to open up to Jared at that moment?
Clayne: I think there’s a lot of reasons. Again, I think Teddy is in a reflective state.
It almost feels like he needs a friend and Jared did kind of just show up and just was like, “I just wanted to check and see how you were doing.”
Clayne: Well and Jared gets to be the big brother. You don’t see Teddy that confident and that comfortable like that, ever. We’ve only seen it a couple times. We’ve seen it when he’s sitting at the fire pit with Jared and then we got to see it the other night. We don’t see that side of Teddy. Teddy, he feels like he’s the big brother and he has this sort of element about him. And I think that was certainly a layer but again I think it’s looking back at who he is, and his life, and the decisions that he’s made, and that he’s in this empty house. His world’s been completely turned upside down so you can’t help but have to do these things. And I think it just took a little bit . . . I don’t know, because I agree I think there’s also something there about just having someone that’s close to him.
And for me, I live in a place again of being reflective, and the alcohol, and having somebody there to listen just going down the lane and then using that opportunity to look at someone who I do love. And just saying, “Look. Regardless of all this, there’s something about you.” And I think Ray has created this Jared character in a way that he is kind of isolated and he doesn’t know what’s going on but, as a result, he’s got this great strength. Everyone almost uses him as a therapist. People go to Jared and just dump on him. And I think Teddy sees him as being this really good kid. It’s quite sweet for him to come out of the blue over to the house. So I think he uses this time to just say, “You’re going to be all right.”
What about Teddy and Janet? Their relationship seems kind of fractured at this point. Do you think that there’s a way to repair it?
Clayne: I don’t think so. I think the relationship is what it is. I think Teddy was kind of just playing, he was going out, you know you go back to season one. Of course at the end of the day, in the very first scene we see Teddy with his mother of 12 years saying, “Call me by my first name.” And Teddy just takes it with a grain of salt, but that obviously, that’s tough. That’s tough for him to swallow. And again, not to kind of be redundant, but I do think again it goes just back to him having the kind of beginning within his life within the situation, look at things without the goggles on. And that’s hurtful. And I think he says everything he means at the door. He says, “You’ve been good to me. But at the end of the day, I know where I stand. I’m not your son. I know you judge me.” And she says it when she’s in the room with Amantha. I think in season two. She said, “I just want to be with my kids, you, Daniel, and Jared. I love you.” And he’s not included in that. And this is all intentional with Ray. I think her focus is Daniel. I think we’re learning that Daniel has some issues mentally. And I think only his mother is going to make sure that she devotes her life to this boy. That’s her son. That’s her little boy no matter what. He needs her and he was pulled away from her for 18 years.
Speaking of Daniel, I know Ray has always been pretty coy as to whether Daniel is truly innocent or guilty and that’s one of things I love about this show is that it never becomes just about the crime. But I’m just curious, do you have your own idea on whether he’s guilty or innocent?
Clayne: I mean, as Teddy I don’t think he can think anything other than he did it. I think Teddy’s limited knowledge of the world and his education and the way perceives individuals, obviously Daniel did it.
What about as Clayne?
Clayne: As Clayne, I don’t know. I think because being so close to Ray, and knowing that Ray is coolly focused on showing the flaws in the judicial process, in the innocent or guilty. Once you spend any time in there, you certainly come out a damaged human being because you can no longer function in society. So I think with that, you know . . .
So, undecided at this point?
Clayne: Look, I can see how he did it. Your girl is with three other guys, you come in on it, you’re jacked, she’s laughing and things just get out of hand. I can see that happening. We’ve obviously seen Daniel have that thing, right? We saw it with Trey. We saw it with Teddy. He has no control over his emotions. So, yeah, I certainly think he can do it. And I think we’re going to find that Trey is going to probably end up doing time for this, in some way, for something he didn’t do. I don’t know. I just love the way Ray is playing with the politics of it all. And that you have to solve the crime. That’s what you have to do to make the town feel safe. You have to make everybody be able to feel like, “Okay, I can go to bed at night. The bad guy’s in the cage.”
I’ve always felt that the town is almost a character itself on this show. What has the experience been like filming in Georgia rather than on a sound stage in LA?
Clayne: It is a character. The tire store where I work, Bruce had new tires put on his car there, the dude that plays my dad, right? He actually really had tires put on there. You go to the church in Griffin and you’ll see half the town there. And then these guys own the little restaurants. And everyone in town supports local business. It’s a neat little town. So it’s invaluable. We’re all together. We all eat together. We drink together. We hang out. We drive to work together. So we are a family and you can’t do that in Los Angeles. There’s no way. There’s always a lot of shit going on. There’s just something very beautiful about this part of the country that’s why I think the music has influenced the culture so much in this part of the world and so many other wonderful things. So yeah, it’s definitely a character and I adore it. It helps me every day.
Do you have any other projects that you’re working on that we can look forward to?
Clayne: Yeah, I did a film called Spectral. It’s one of Legendary’s new films. It’s me and James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Max Martini, myself. And we have that coming out in the summer of 2016. So yeah, so we have that. It’s a . . . I think they were describing it as Black Hawk Down meets Poltergeist.
Well, that sounds very interesting!
Clayne: It’s going to be kind of interesting. But it still sounds like bullshit but kind of Delta Force and we’re trying to get these guys out of eastern Europe as a result of staying there. But it’s great, Badge is a great actor and Emily, of course, as well. So it’s an action film that’s grounded in a lot of reality. And Nic Mathieu who directed it was really concerned with the performance and the underlying intention behind the scene. And there’s a lot of rehearsal which you don’t see on these kind of budget films. So I’m proud of that. And then I’ve been working on a film for two years with my son. We’re in the editing process right now and we start sound design next week. So I’m excited about that as well.
I think it’s safe to say we’re all going to be keeping our eyes peeled for Spectral, but in the meantime, you can see Clayne Crawford on Rectify, Thursdays at 10pm on Sundance TV.