COCKED: Sam Trammell on Brotherly Drama, Playing with Fire, and Amazon's Pilot Process - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

COCKED: Sam Trammell on Brotherly Drama, Playing with Fire, and Amazon’s Pilot Process

February 11, 2015 by  

cocked-amAmazon’s latest pilot season is nearing its end, and a handful of new original (potential) shows are competing for your attention.

One of the ones I was drawn to is COCKED, a drama that centers around the Paxon family, and their gun business. (It stars Sam Trammell, Jason Lee, Dreama Walker, and Brian Dennehy, and was co-created by LIE TO ME’s Samuel Baum and MANHATTAN’s Sam Shaw.)

I spoke with Trammell — who plays Richard, the Paxon who is reluctantly dragged back into the family business — about the Amazon pilot process, filming one of the pilot’s crazy stunts, where the show might go, and more …

Given how new the Amazon pilot process is, what made you want to become involved with COCKED?
Sam Trammell: I really liked the part. I thought it was a great part to play, and [COCKED co-creator] Sam Baum wrote such a good script. It was really one of the best scripts going around. I was just finishing TRUE BLOOD, and was thinking I would take a little time off, and just read it, and thought it was so good. And the part was so great, and so different from what I’ve been doing, recently. I really wanted to do it.

Post-TRUE BLOOD, did you give any serious thought about working in network TV, or a show that required a longer time commitment per season? Or were you always looking for a shorter season?
ST: I wasn’t looking for a shorter season, but I do like it. This, by chance, happened to be similar to TRUE BLOOD [in terms of scheduling] — this will probably be a 10-episode [season]. And I do really like that, because it gives you free time for the rest of the year to do other projects, and other characters…it really is a great model.

How has it been for you having the pilot out there as you wait to discover whether it’s moving forward?
ST: You’re pretty vulnerable. [Laughs] Literally, anyone can watch it, and everyone has a loud voice, because they can rate it and say what they want about it, and it’s all right there to see on Amazon. You’re really laying yourself out there.

With most pilots, you usually don’t see the pilot — you see the first episode of the series once it’s been picked up. And what happens is the pilot will be finessed [after it’s picked up] and scenes will be reshot, and some scenes will be added or changed. None of the Amazon pilots have had that chance yet — it’s the raw pilot that’s out there. You have the raw pilot, and you have people very democratically posting about whether they like it or not. [Laughs] It is interesting.

It’s not that much different than when you do something and it gets reviewed; it’s kind of the same thing. There’s so many reviews online now, and so many people that review, that if you want to, you can find a lot of things written about your project that you’ve done.

You always remember the bad reviews, so I tend to try not to look too much. But I’m kind of keeping an eye on this one, because in this case, the people have a pretty strong say in if it gets picked up.

How has your comment-checking behavior evolved from day one to the release to where we are now, so close to it ending?
ST: Every once in a while, I’ll look at a few. Usually at the good ones. [Laughs] I’ve learned not to look at the bad ones.

We’ve been really lucky — the majority of them are really good. It’s been really exciting to see it and see the response, and see people liking the work.

You have a sizable social media presence, too. What kind of balance have you had to strike in trying to promote it, yet being aware of not promoting it so much people get annoyed?
ST: I know! Exactly. I’m a really poor self-promoter in a way. [Laughs] But with this, because it does have so much to do with how many people see it and vote, I have, every other day, sent something out there.

I know not everybody every day is going to see each tweet. Some people will get it multiple times. But I guess people expect that. It’s been in my head: “Don’t overwhelm people!” I just want to remind people it’s out there, because everyone’s so busy. And it’s so easy to watch things, that you can say, I’ll watch this later, and then forget.

When I spoke with Sam, he praised your willingness to do stunt work in the pilot. How was filming the sequence where Richard’s car was on fire for you?
ST: I’ve done a little firework, but that was pretty intense. They lit that car on fire, and it got a lot more intense than I thought it would. And it got really, really hot in the car. And there were parts of the car burning that weren’t exactly expected. It was definitely a controlled environment, but it’s fire. [Laughs] And parts of the car were on fire, it wasn’t just some gas pipes that were shooting fire up. That definitely got to be a little sketchy and a little scary. But everything was fine. Fire is hot! And it’s scary when you’re surrounded by it. [But] they had firefighters there, and everything was fairly safe. But it was a little unpredictable and definitely scary.

Did the experience make you reconsider what kind of stunts you might be willing to do going forward?
ST: It has definitely made me a little more wary of fire. I guess I’ve never been in that situation where you had it around you in three ways. You have to be careful doing your own stunts — for me, I want to do my own stunts because I want to do the acting, and I want every part of my performance [to be mine], I don’t want it to be anyone else; I want it to be me. But you have to be careful about it.

Looking ahead, if the series goes forward, what do you know about Richard’s arc?
ST: I know that he’s going to get deep into this world of gun manufacturing and gun promoting — as far as promoting the brand, not necessarily promoting guns. Just promoting the family business. I know there’s a crazy, backstabbing, in a way kind of a lawless, wild west world. I know there’s going to be a lot of great stories that come out of that.

And then there’s going to be the great brother and brother [with Jason Lee’s Grady]. Us working together, but working against each other. I know I’m going to have a big, huge arc in this show. I don’t want to give too much away, and I actually don’t know too much. But I know there’s a lot of room for Richard to go in different directions. He has a very traditional life at the beginning of the show, and I think that’s going to change.

As the brothers are competing against each other, what wild card role will Tabby, their half-sister play?
ST: Well, [Richard doesn’t] ask to be given this business, but it is sort of given over to me. And she wants it. She sees me as an adversary. I don’t really see her as that, but I think that’s going to be a big deal: you’ve got someone else who wants what I have. That’s a whole other obstacle, and another character I’m going to be up against who will be putting up obstacles and causing me trouble, for sure, that I’m going to have to deal with.

There’s trouble at every corner for Richard. He has his brother, he has Tabby, he has his wife and family who aren’t happy where they are. It’s kind of like he has a lot of plates spinning. That’s what’s fun about it; he’s putting out fires and adapting to a new environment, and having to assimilate or not assimilate and having to live in it. And it’s a world you don’t really believe in, in the beginning.

Absolutely. And if someone hasn’t seen the pilot yet, but you want to sell them on it, what would you say to them?
ST: I think it’s just provocative and timely with the issue of guns and gun safety. But it’s really fun. I think it’s funny. The dialogue is really great, and it’s really, for me, some of the best stuff was working with Jason Lee (Grady) and that back and forth was just fantastic.

Theoretically, the pitch about it is that it’s not about guns, it’s about self-protection, and the choices we make to protect ourselves and our family and our dog and our relationships. That’s what COCKED is. It’s a blast. It’s an unpredictable blast about a crazy family. And for me, a guy who’s trying to tame a crazy situation and kind of failing at it, which is fun to watch.

Have you checked out the COCKED pilot?

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