BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Melissa Fumero on the ‘Surreal’ First Year, the Season Finale, and More | Give Me My Remote

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Melissa Fumero on the ‘Surreal’ First Year, the Season Finale, and More

March 24, 2014 by  

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While most first-year comedies often take a bit of time to find their footing, BROOKLYN NINE-NINE was an oddity: from the show’s very first episode, the series felt completely secure in itself and the world it had built. The result? BROOKLYN NINE-NINE was consistently one of the best — and most hilarious — shows on television. (And on top of two Golden Globe wins — including Best TV Series, Comedy — the show has also been picked up early for a second season.)

On the eve of the show’s first season finale, I spoke with series star Melissa Fumero (Amy) about BROOKLYN NINE-NINE’s breakout year, what fans can expect in the finale, and more…

As viewers gear up for the first season finale of BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, it’s also been about a year since you shot the show’s first episode. What has this past year been like for you?
Melissa Fumero: It’s been a little surreal. Of course amazing, and fabulous, and so, so, so fun. But there’s definitely be a lot of moments where it’s like, whose life am I living? It’s crazy, and I’m trying to be present, and grounded, and absorb the moment when it’s happening. It’s just been a fantastic ride — not only to be on a show with such great writing, and such great characters, [but] then just everyone involved from the cast to the writers to the producers to the crew; everyone is just really nice and wonderful and lovely. It’s kind of a really magical feeling on set every day.

Did the show winning a Golden Globe for best comedy series magnify how insane the ride has been?
MF: Yeah. Literally, I sometimes still think I’m processing that that happened. We got nominated and we were shocked, because we didn’t even expect that, and didn’t know that was a possibility. And going, we were just excited to go and talking about who was going to be there, who were you wearing, and how you’re wearing your hair — there was never a conversation of, “What if we win?”

And then when they said BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, we all just jumped out of our seats and were screaming and grabbing each other, and tears were rushing down my face. And I like, “Keep it together, Fumero.” Getting up on that stage, I just remember following whomever was in front of me, which I think was Terry [Crews (Terry)], and my [thought was], “Just follow Terry, just follow Terry. Don’t even look around, just follow who’s in front of you.” The whole thing was really surreal and just great.

It was very fun the next day reading all the tweets. And the next day, I had a 6 AM call time [for work], and I was the first actor on set, and I was the first one to get to see the crew [post-win]. That was one of the best moments of the whole thing:  seeing how happy everyone was. The producers and the crew and our camera guys were telling me who they were with, and we cracked open a bottle of champagne. Everybody was so proud and excited and happy the next day. We’re so proud of the show, and then you have something like that happen, and you [realize] people are with us, and people like what we’re doing. It just makes you feel even more proud, and I think even more confident, too. For a first season, it’s a big thing to wrap your mind around.

How has it been doing a comedy series? (Prior to this, Fumero was probably best known for her roles on GOSSIP GIRL and ONE LIFE TO LIVE.)
MF: There definitely was a learning curve, because the structure of the show is so specific and so different from even other comedy work that I’ve done: the way we shoot it, the timing of things, the ad-libbing and improv element to the way we shoot this show.

I think, definitely, I had a lot of nerves in the beginning, and was really listening, and focused, and really trying to catch on to everything, and to be there. At the end of the day, it’s a lot of playing and experimenting, which I love, so you can kind of just let go. And it’s such a supportive environment that especially with comedy, you have to try everything. You don’t know, sometimes, what necessarily is going to be funny. So we have the freedom on every take to try something different and try something new.

It’s really creatively fulfilling. Probably the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done. And you can fall on your face and fail, and no one is going to look down on you. It’s just, OK, that didn’t work, let’s try something else. It’s great. It’s really fun. And I definitely feel more confident now than when I started, but that also just comes with, I think for everyone, it takes a little bit of time to get your character down, and fully flesh them out. Sometimes that just takes reading more scripts to determine that. As the season goes on, you reach a point where it’s, “I know exactly who this character is now, and what she would do in every situation.” Where in the beginning, it’s more experimenting with that.

How much did they tell you about Amy’s season 1 arc when you signed on?
MF: It was more finding out script-by-script. When I auditioned for the show, Amy had a really different backstory — she was a teacher who became a cop, and she still had seven brothers, but they were all cops, and that changed. And the teacher part changed, obviously. But the brilliance of [BROOKLYN NINE-NINE creators] Mike Schur and Dan Goor is taking these characters they had in mind, but then shifting them to the actors playing them.

All of the characters during the pilot changed a lot. And every time I’d get a new script for the pilot — because we got several drafts — Amy was becoming clearer, and Amy was becoming a little bit like Melissa. [Laughs] I could see little things they were picking up on, and adding to her. Like, definitely, my nervousness, since I was pretty nervous during the pilot. [Laughs] They’re really good at noticing your strengths, comedy-wise. From the pilot, Amy got really nervous around Holt and really wanted to impress him and fails, and has an idea of how she wants to do it, and it all goes wrong. And that became a plot-point.

But it was really learning and finding out about her script-by-script. And also, every time she was paired up with somebody new. All of those interactions were new information.

One of the interactions that has been clicking with many viewers is the Amy and Jake relationship. What can you tease about what’s in store for them in the finale?
MF: In the finale, Jake and Amy are working on a case, and they do some undercover work. Holt is also with them doing the undercover [assignment]. There may be ballroom outfits happening. And there may be some dancing that happens. It’s great, because you get to see Amy and Jake as detectives, and great partners, because they really are a good team.

And then…I think fans of the Jake and Amy story will be happy with what happens in the finale, and the moments that happen, but I don’t know if they’ll be satisfied.

It’s still season 1, so there’s time to play with that relationship.
MF: Yeah. There are quite a few cliffhangers in the finale.

Are they a couple you’d like to see the show pursue? Or do you hope they stay just friends/partners for a little bit longer?
MF: I don’t know! I love their friendship and how it’s evolved from hypercompetitiveness and pushing each other’s buttons and teasing each other all the time, to morphing into more solid team work and having each other’s back and supporting each other.

And I don’t know where it’s going to go. When you see what happens in the finale, when I read it, I was like, [Gasps] “What does that mean?! What’s going to happen? Wait a minute, how is this going to change their relationship?” I’m as anxious to see what happens as viewers are.

That makes sense. You’re invested in her, too!
MF: Yeah! I can imagine it will still be a slow burn, because Amy is pretty serious in her life and the things she wants. And one of them is to not be alone anymore, and to be in a relationship, and maybe settle down.

And I don’t know if Jake is there yet. And he’s pretty immature. But at the same time, Amy is so serious that she needs to let go a little bit. There is still a long journey ahead for the two of them.

Fox has teased that Jake gets fired by the NYPD in the finale. How will that change things for Amy?
MF: Jake gets fired by the NYPD, and we open with that, and then we flash back and see the week before, and all the events that lead up to that. It’s definitely a shocker, and Amy is definitely shocked when it happens. And that’s all I can really say.

Very interesting. Did you have a favorite moment this season?
MF: There’s been a lot. There have been so many episodes that were really fun to shoot. Because they’re more recent in my memory, I have to say shooting “The Party” and shooting “Tactical Village” were both really fun for everyone. And we were excited to see those episodes, because you have this feeling sometime when it’s a fun shoot that this could be really great, you know?

And “The Party” was just fun because we were on location in this big house, and we’re all dressed up. And I was happy to be out of a pants suit for a few days — take a break and be in a dress! And we were just in this big house and it was beautiful and we were shooting in all these different rooms, and there were all these shenanigans scenes, and hanging out in this living room and chatting.

In “Tactical Village,” we were in a warehouse downtown, and we all geek out when they give us fake guns to shoot. Everybody turns into five-year-olds. It’s so much fun. And we’re in our gear with our vests, and everything, and our big boots. And at one point we were hanging out between takes and put all of our cast chairs in a circle. [Laughs] And we were just talking and hanging out. They were just really fun weeks, because it was stunts, and then shenanigans at the party.

Those two stick out in my mind because we were out of the studio, on location, and it was just a good time. We had a lot of fun hanging out and shooting the scenes.

BROOKLYN NINE-NINE’s season finale airs Tuesday, March 25th at 9:30 PM on Fox.

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Comments

One Response to “BROOKLYN NINE-NINE: Melissa Fumero on the ‘Surreal’ First Year, the Season Finale, and More”

  1. peter mezei on April 5th, 2014 1:22 pm

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