Editor's note: spoilers for Mare of Easttown follow.
Are you watching the excellent Mare of Easttown on HBO? The show, written by Brad Ingelsby and directed by Craig Zobel, takes us through a Philadelphia suburb suffering from some recent traumatic crimes. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of Philly, I have been blown away by the accuracy, accents, and performances of the cast.
It's crazy to know that one of the best performances might not have happened.
Evan Peters, mostly known for his work in the X-Men universe, portrays a young cop named Zabel who made a splash solving a big case and is now assigned to cracking another. Peters plays across from Kate Winslet's titular Mare, and their on-screen chemistry has been palpable.
Recently, the actor told the New York Times about what it's like being in the series, and how it almost broke him. Again, spoiler coming.
This week, we were treated to Zabel’s death. He was shot in the head in a surprising quick-draw scene that didn't give the audience much time to process the violence.
In Peters' words, he “was excited by the idea that that would happen, to craft this whole character and formulate this whole plot so it’s almost like we did it for that moment.”
He went on to say, “It’s this interesting way to develop a character, knowing that he’s going to die in such a way... To me, it felt very real, and it sort of speaks to the danger of being in this line of work. It reminded me of that moment in Burn After Reading where Brad Pitt gets shot in the forehead in the closet—which is sort of hilarious but also really shocking, and we wanted to have that sort of feeling once it happens.”
These sentiments were echoed by Zobel.
“I felt like it was very clever,” Zobel said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “He’s having his cathartic moment where he’s becoming more active as a character, after we’ve heard his backstory and how he didn’t really solve that case in Upper Darby. It’s just taking a person directly at a point in which they have the most opportunity, and stopping them.”
While that scene blew us all away, the one that really affects Peters was actually something earlier in the series. It was the drunken rant he goes on in episode three, one that had all of social media cheering for him and his realistic take.
Peters told Vanity Fair that he actually thought he bombed that scene and was terrified about it.
“The reason Craig and I were emotional and hugging was because I was hysterically sobbing,” Peters said. “I thought we didn’t get the scene. I was like, ‘We didn’t get, we didn’t get it. I can’t do this. I’m terrible. I’m going to shadow you, Craig, and be a director, because I can’t do it anymore.’ And he was like, ‘It’s okay. It’s cool, man. I think we got it.’ […] What’s going on with my internal judgment? Where I don’t even know if it’s good.”
Peters was very wrong here. He not only killed the scene, but he won over all the viewers and unlocked a fun romantic subplot that made his death in episode five all the more gut-wrenching.
And he did it all with a secret trick. Apparently, he was drinking apple cider vinegar to trigger some memories of being drunk for his body. Zobel tweeted this technique out as a reply to a fan.
That's not the only time Peters went "method" for the role. He also became a huge fan of hoagies, which he was eating all the time during shooting.
Winslet told The Envelope Podcast, "He would say, 'Ugh, you gotta try the Gobbler... And it was this gigantic sub, basically—or hoagie, this huge hoagie... It's basically a Thanksgiving meal in a hoagie... He was like, 'Oh, yeah, I just eat that thing and I pass out.' And I'd be like, 'I'm not surprised! I'm not surprised, Evan!'"
His turn in the show should garner him some Emmy consideration this year, and is an excellent pivot for him into more mature roles.
Are you watching the show? Do you love his character? Let us know what you think in the comments.