CASTLE Episode 100: Andrew Marlowe Reflects on the Show’s Early Years and Teases ‘The Lives of Others’
March 29, 2013 by Marisa Roffman
A little over four years ago, a ruggedly handsome fiction writer named Richard Castle found a muse in the form of a kick-ass — yet vulnerable — NYPD detective Kate Beckett. Sparks flew, he pulled some strings with his buddy (the mayor), and he got permission to follow her around for the foreseeable future…as research for a book, naturally.
Now, CASTLE is just a few days away from celebrating a massive milestone: episode 100. In the past 99 episodes, there has been love (Castle/Beckett), loss (RIP, Montgomery), weddings (Ryan/Jenny), hookups (Lanie/Esposito), closure (Beckett’s mother murder case), and so much more.
To reflect a little bit on how far the series has come, I spoke with CASTLE creator Andrew Marlowe about his memories of the show’s early years, important moments, and the special 100th hour…
Episode 100 is finally here!
Andrew Marlowe: Yeah, it’s nice! It’s nice we were able to get there, it’s nice the TV gods smiled upon us. We’re gratified that we get to keep making them.
Is it a little weird celebrating episode 100 when you’re several episodes ahead in writing and production?
AM: There’s still a lot of work to do before we get to the end of the season. So it’s nice to pause and take a moment to reflect on everything we’ve done. And when we look back at the journey it’s been, it’s been pretty phenomenal. I just have the highest praise for our actors and everybody on the writing staff and crew for everything they’ve been able to bring to it. Not too many shows have the opportunity to hit this benchmark and we consider ourselves very fortunate.
Looking back at the pilot, what do you remember of your first day of production?
AM: The first day of production is both daunting and makes you giddy, because it’s like, we’re here, we arrived, we’re making this, it’s really exciting, but I can’t for the life of me tell you what our first scene was. I just knew I was in remarkable company with Nathan Fillion (Castle) and Stana [Katic (Beckett)], and being able to work with [guest star] Keir Dullea on the pilot and hear stories about making [the movie] 2001[: A SPACE ODYSSEY]. It was really a wonderful experience.
Any time you get something new into production, it feels fresh and it’s just awesome. I remember my first day on AIR FORCE ONE [which Marlowe wrote], and we went down to a runway next to LAX and there was a plane they had painted to look like the president’s 747. Coming on to CASTLE, it’s smaller scale [than film], but more control as a showrunner, because you are the executive producer. So to control the vision down to the smallest detail was a new and interesting challenge.
There are a lot of pretty memorable Castle and Beckett exchanges in the pilot, but was there one scene in particular you felt was essential for them to get just right for the dynamic to work?
AM: The toughest scene in the pilot was the interrogation when she brings Castle into the interrogation room for the first time and she’s leaning in on him. We needed to capture a sense of attraction, and also a sense of frustration; that both these characters were a challenge for each other, and a challenge they were interested in overcoming.
And that was the scene we auditioned our actresses with and it was a very tough scene. There are a lot of twists and turns and we worked that, and we rehearsed that to get that right. And to me, that was the crucial scene. The points of view when you were at the party [when Beckett first met Castle and brought him in for questioning] were pretty clear, but the dance they had to do when she was interrogating him and his lack of respect for authority, and his little narcissistic, smug, ruggedly handsome point of view needed to come across in a way that didn’t alienate the audience, but made the audience intrigued and her intrigued. So the whole point of that scene was to get under each other’s skin. And we knew if we could accomplish that, we might have something. So that was really the scene we were focused on.
And we were building on that. When we went to the library [later in the episode] and he had stolen the evidence and he’s the guy who gets away with it all the time and she’s arresting him and he doesn’t mind she’s arresting him, that builds on that first interrogation scene. So if you don’t have that right, good luck.
Was there a point in the first season when you saw the way the show was going, the way the episodes were coming out, the way the cast was clicking on screen, and went, we might actually have something special here?
AM: Well, the thing is you never know. We completed our first season before we aired, in terms of filming. And we felt pretty good about it. But we all know there have been great shows on TV that for whatever reason didn’t click with an audience, or don’t click with them right away. Certainly Nathan has been on one of the legendary ones with FIREFLY, where there was an audience — very passionate audience — until it developed into a much bigger audience when the show went away. You look at something like ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, which was before its time.
So you could be very happy with the work you’re doing, but never know until it gets in front of an audience. So there’s a lot of crossing your fingers and hoping that the TV gods smile upon you.
In hindsight, is there anything you wish you had done differently about that first year, or the first couple of years?
AM: We’re still on the air! So I’m happy. You can second-guess yourself, but I think second-guessing comes when things go wrong. It’s possible we could have done things differently and had a different, better, more interesting journey, but I think everybody here is pleased with the way it developed.
We knew were taking risks along the way. Given the way we ended the first season with the characters separating, you know, there was a question in my mind whether we were going too far separating them at the end of the second season. And certainly, the bold move of revealing Montgomery’s role in Beckett’s mother’s murder and having him sacrifice himself, that was kind of a big deal in season 3. But it seems to have worked out, so I don’t know if it’s worth us second guessing. Our focus needs to be on continuing to bring interesting storytelling and to keep things complicated.
You know, if the show had only been on for seven or eight episodes, I’m sure I would have had plenty of things I would have done different.
Do you have episodes that mean the most to you at this point? Or are they all your babies?
AM: They’re all my babies, but every baby has its virtue and every baby has its challenge. There are ones I really love, and there are ones I think are really good, and there are others I think, hey, you know, that’s not a bad hour of television. Given the volume of network TV, I think inevitably there are going to be a couple of clunkers every season, or ones that don’t turn out the way you want them to. But you’re looking at the balance of a season of a whole.
Overall, I really love all the work we’ve done on the two-parters. Coming from a feature background and being able to bring some of that sensibility to television work and being ambitious is exciting. I would hope if we fail, it’s a failure of ambition versus a failure of vision; that we bit off more than we could chew. There have been some great, fun, emotional episodes we’ve had along the way. I really loved working on the second part of the two-parter this year, and maybe I mention it because it’s fresh, but the ability to reveal Castle’s father and have Jim Brolin in that terrific role, and do something in that scope and scale was really great. But I also love the funny and charming episodes.
But what I remember most when I look back on it are the moments: the moments where Castle and Beckett get connected, the moments when their relationship is inching forward, the moments where the relationship takes the next step. Sometimes tentative, sometimes a massive leap. I think of the emotional moments in [the fourth season finale,] “Always” — and not just the kiss between Castle and Beckett, but Alexis’ graduation speech and how moving to me that was, given the moment these two characters are at in their life, to be able to juxtapose that. I’m very pleased we’ve had some tremendously powerful episodes as well. And some of those feature our supporting cast. To think about the episode where Ryan had to deal with the fact that the gun that was stolen by 3XK was used in a murder and he bears that guilt — really, really, really interesting stuff. And I like the moments where Castle is having a good time, but I also like the moments where he really mans up and is surprising to the people around him.
Absolutely. Before you and Terri Edda Miller [the co-writer of “The Lives of Others” and Marlowe’s wife] started writing episode 100, did you go back to rewatch the pilot to refresh where these characters came from, or did you go into penning the hour fresh?
AM: Well, we’re always aware of where we came from, and I think having the pilot in mind and a little bit of the Castle and Beckett dynamic that we had in the pilot and the early shows helped inform the work Terri and I were doing on the 100th episode. Castle and Beckett have settled into a relationship, but we wanted to revisit the fun they have and some of the tension they had in early seasons. So we thought that doing an episode where Castle really is the boy who called murder and Beckett’s not on board and we could introduce a fun stress into their relationship would be a great way to revisit the roots of the show while honoring where we’ve arrived.
We’ve spoken before about how writing with Terri often helps you with certain sensibilities (in “Always,” you pointed to her assistance, specifically, with the Alexis/Castle dynamic), so what can you say about writing this episode together?
AM: Well, when we write together, there’s generally a great spark that comes along with it, in terms of the Castle/Beckett banter. We’re able to capitalize on that THIN MAN feel, that Tracy/Hepburn witty banter back and forth. There’s a bunch of that in there.
But to me, it was also a celebration of being able to [write] it with the person who was with me when I started this journey and who’s had a huge impact on the show. So for me, it was deeply meaningful to share that experience with her.
Will you be writing the finale together?
AM: We’re not quite there yet. I may rope her in, but I think, as of now, it’s on my shoulders. But we’ll see what the next week brings.
CASTLE’s milestone 100th episode airs Monday, April 1st at 10 PM on ABC.