Amanda Peet Talks Playing A "Tragic Train Wreck" & The Future Of Jon Snow

Image: Via HBO.
Amanda Peet can't help but steal every Togetherness scene she shows up in — and not just because Peet is doing some of her best work ever. Her character, Tina — whom the actress calls a "tragic train wreck" — is also almost always the most selfish person in the room, which means she hijacks whatever is happening and makes it about herself.

Take the first episode of the show's second season, which premiered on February 21. Tina, her sister Michelle (Melanie Lynskey), and her brother-in-law Brett (Mark Duplass) are in New Orleans visiting Brett's best friend Alex (Steve Zissis) on his very first film set. Tina and Alex had a major falling out at the end of season one, and she's trying to fix things. She buys Alex a hugely cumbersome antique ship compass and presents it to him at his birthday dinner. Tina is more than miffed when Alex doesn't seem to appreciate the sentimental (or actual) value of the gift. Ultimately, she ends up lugging the clunky thing around town — as if to underscore the effort she's putting into the on-the-rocks relationship and highlight how she's under-appreciated.

And then there's the moment in the second episode when, still trying to mend fences with Alex, Tina surfaces at his surprise welcome home party, hosted at Michelle and Brett's house. Not only is she late enough to almost ruin everything, she also ends up fighting with Alex and crashing her car, spoiling the return within hours of his arrival.

Still, there's real goodness in Tina — her sincerity, her vulnerability — that makes it almost impossible not to root for her, particularly as Togetherness winds its way toward the end of its sophomore season and we see the character come to some stark realizations about what she really wants from life. Peet rang us up to talk about her character and I — as a Togetherness superfan — geeked out digging into it all with her.

What would you say Tina is grappling with the most this season?

"I think she’s going through a midlife crisis in season two, which is to say she realizes she’s not 21 years old any more and considers whether or not she might want to become a mother. The shift is about to take place now. I think she starts to feel successful at looking at [Michelle and Brett’s] kids. That’s the shift, I think."

Can you talk to me more about that midlife crisis?
"When your approach to life is that facile and you’re not aware of it, I think when you become aware of it later in life, it’s like a 50 car pile up: It can happen all at once that you feel like you want to take root somewhere or with someone and that you want to care about something more than you care about yourself.

I’m a mom, and I remember when I first had Frankie [her 9-year-old daughter with David Benioff] and some of my friends were becoming moms at the same time, and some people said to me: 'Doesn’t it just put everything in perspective?' And I was like, No. [Laughs] I’m still really competitive and ambitious and really petty. So I appreciate the way the Duplasses [Mark and Jay, who executive produce Togetherness] talk about parenting and family and midlife. It’s an accurate perception, for me."

[Speaking of parenting and family, at this point Peet had to step away from the conversation because her son was being dropped off by his nanny. Apologizing profusely, she said she needed to get him a bottle and would call me back in three minutes. She did — right on schedule.]

I always say as long as I’m playing a character who advances the plot, if I take off my clothes while I do it, that's... I’ll take it, is what I'm saying.

Amanda Peet
So where were we?
"The Duplasses write great roles for women." [Laughs]

Yes, the female roles are so layered on the show. Do you feel like you’re seeing new layers of your character unfold over time?
"Kind of, yeah. But I feel like it was even in the pilot, though. When I read the pilot I was like, I know who this chick is. But then three-quarters of the way through she sort of defies that cliche and becomes something else. So, I think they’re really interested in defying the audience’s expectations."

One of the things that’s great about
Togetherness is that it takes something very conventional — being married, in L.A., working, and having two small children — and shows what isn’t working underneath that.
"Yeah, I mean, Michelle is a mother, but she’s ambivalent about it, and she’s struggling with what her identity is outside of being a wife and mother. That’s very real for a lot of people. But it’s really hard to dramatize that."

Why do you think it’s so hard to dramatize that?
"Because it’s boring. And it’s been done. And it’s uptown problems. And it could make something feel like a vagina show."

I don’t think of this as a vagina show!
"That’s what I’m saying. It avoids it."

Image: Via HBO.
I also wanted to talk about your appearance in the doc The 4%: Film's Gender Problem. You talk about how women are so often relegated to these secondary roles, while the men do all the action. Are you feeling like you’re seeing a shift in gender equality, now that we’re having more conversation about it, in your own life and career?
"I feel like I’m getting better writing than a lot of movie stars. I think part of it is being on TV — it’s less star-driven. HBO hired Mark and Jay to deliver their vision. They don’t need to stuff the show with a bunch of stars in order to do that: They want Mark and Jay.

HBO is amazing that way...I know Game of Thrones gets a bad rap for being misogynistic. But the truth is, there [were] more Emmy-nominated actresses on that show [in 2015] than on any other show. And I always say, as long as I’m playing a character who advances the plot, if I take off my clothes while I do it...I’ll take it." [Ed. note: Peet's husband, David Benioff, is one of the executive producers on GoT.]"

I was looking back through some comments you made
last summer about the backlash following Sansa Stark's rape scene. You said it was misplaced because Game of Thrones was doing such a good job of writing compelling and plot-forwarding roles for female characters instead of just putting them in background parts.
"Yeah, I mean, I think no one could argue that the female roles on Game of Thrones are ancillary. That’s just something you can’t say about Game of Thrones. And I’m very proud of that fact. And I’m proud of Emilia [Clarke] and Lena [Headey]. It shouldn’t be under-emphasized. It’s a hugely popular show, and the roles for women on that show are a huge part of that."

Well, I also have to ask you about this: Any word on the state of your marriage since we still don’t know about Jon Snow coming back?
"I feel uncomfortable right now." [Laughs]

I’m sorry!
"No, I feel uncomfortable with my husband. We did an intervention. I asked for video of him — of Kit [Harington] on the set. I told David he can’t be on a funeral pyre and he has to be speaking. And I didn’t get that video. I’m hoping and praying."
Watch Togetherness Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m. EDT on HBO.

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