SPRUNG: Garret Dillahunt, Martha Plimpton, and Greg Garcia on the Joy of Their Unexpected RAISING HOPE Reunion - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SPRUNG: Garret Dillahunt, Martha Plimpton, and Greg Garcia on the Joy of Their Unexpected RAISING HOPE Reunion

August 16, 2022 by  


(L to R) Shakira Barrera, Martha Plimpton, and Garret Dillahunt star in Sprung. Credit Dennis Mong, Amazon Freevee.

When Greg Garcia was developing SPRUNG—his first streaming series after creating network and cable comedies like MY NAME IS EARL, RAISING HOPE, THE GUEST BOOK, and YES, DEAR—he knew he wanted the series to stand apart from his previous work.

“I wanted the show to look different,” he explains in the video below. “We kind of shot it different than my other shows.”

Another change? After years of bringing back beloved co-workers to plays roles big and small in his projects, Garcia intended to have the Freevee comedy consist of almost entirely new-to-his-shows actors. So to embody the world of SPRUNG, about a group of former inmates who get released from prison at the start of the COVID pandemic and decide to use their skills to get ahead and help others, the writer recruited Phillip Garcia, Shakira Barrera, James Earl, and Clare Gillies.

“It’s hard, because you love these people and you want to work with them and you know that they’ll be great,” Garcia notes of his normal go-tos. “But on this one, I was like, ‘I don’t want to have a ton of crossover. I just want to do something different on this one. We’ll get back to more crossover on the next show, but this one I wanted to try something a little different.'”

The sole planned exception was RAISING HOPE’s Garret Dillahunt, who plays lead Jack, a role Garcia scripted with the actor in mind.

“I’m always trying to work with Garret,” Garcia says, who also recruited the actor for THE GUEST BOOK. “My head is on a swivel to constantly look for ways to work with Garret, ever since we did RAISING HOPE. He’s amazing. He’s an amazing actor. He’s unbelievable to work with. He has a calming presence on the set to have as your lead; he checks every single box and he’s just a good dude and a friend…you get to a point in this business where it’s like, ‘Let’s just have fun…This is a lot of work. Let’s have fun.’ And I know with Garret, I always have fun.”

But missing out on the hijinks was Martha Plimpton, who worked with the duo on RAISING HOPE. “When I heard that they were doing a show together—and I was working on this other show, and that I wasn’t invited—I was a little pissed,” she jokes in the video below, noting she lovingly roasted them on social media for having fun without her.

And then things, accidentally, fell into place. When the powers that be realized they needed to recast the role of Barb (originally portrayed by Illeana Douglas)—the mother of Jack’s former cellmate, Rooster (Phillip Garcia), who opens her home up to the just-released formerly incarcerated group—Garcia and Dillahunt realized they might be able to call on an old friend.

“Garret and I talked and we said ‘Well, should we call Martha? Maybe it’s later now, maybe she can get out of her thing with HBO?'” Garcia recalls. (The writer had been asked early on in the development if the role was written for Plimpton, but since he knew she was otherwise occupied, it wasn’t.) “We called her, she was in London, and we were like, ‘If we can figure this out, can you be on a plane and get here like in three days?’ And she’s like, ‘Absolutely. I’m in. We’ve got to figure it all out, but I’m in.'”

The turnaround was so fast (Plimpton says she got the call on a Friday, was on a plane by Sunday, got her hair dyed on Monday, and was filming by Tuesday), Plimpton hadn’t even read the show by the time she was traveling to film it. “She was getting on the plane, and I’d sent her the scripts, which I’d assumed at this point she had read, and she goes, ‘Alright, I’m getting on the plane. I’m gonna check out these scripts. Who am I playing?'” Garcia recalls. “It was just the trust and the love. Because, look, we’ve continued to hang out and be friends and everything, so it wasn’t like we were just getting in touch with her [for the first time] since RAISING HOPE. We were all in my backyard social distancing not that long before this.”

That bond was what helped Plimpton jump into the new gig: “I just knew that it was Greg and Garret.”

Dillahunt is equally thrilled they were able to pull off the quasi-reunion, after believing it might never happen. “I was operating for many years under the mistaken notion that we couldn’t work together again, because no one was going to buy it,” Dillahunt admits in the video below. “And I don’t know why I bought into that, because it really undersells our abilities—I think particularly Martha’s—to inhabit a thousand other people…it’s what she does, and I like to think it’s what I do. And I’m really happy we got the chance to do that again, because I love Greg. I know she loves Greg, and we love working with Martha…It also works. Turns out, we have great chemistry because we’re really good at what we do.”

“And we like each other,” Plimpton adds.

“And we like each other,” Dillahunt confirms. “And you can make great stuff under those conditions. And I think we did.”

Despite their RAISING HOPE history (where Dillahunt and Plimpton played married couple Burt and Virginia), SPRUNG allows the duo to play a very different dynamic. “Our characters are completely different,” Plimpton previews. “They don’t have a relationship at the beginning of the show—they’re not romantic, they’re not married. They’re completely different people. They’re strangers to each other. The lucky thing is that you know each other [as performers] and you can jump right in. And the fun thing is that you don’t know anybody else, and it’s going to be an adventure, and you’re going to find your way through it together working on these episodes.”

Garcia, for his part, admits there were some nerves about (some) viewers expecting a repeat of RAISING HOPE. “‘Are people gonna think RAISING HOPE?'” he remembers wondering. “And we want to make sure that Martha looked completely different and was a different character. And obviously Garret was a different character. But then, when you really thought about it, it was, you know what, people that love RAISING HOPE, they’ll love it because these two [people] are back on-screen together. And the people that didn’t watch RAISING HOPE will have no idea, so it doesn’t matter. But it worked out for the best. And it turns out I did write it for Martha Plimpton—I just didn’t know it at the time.”

SPRUNG, Series Premiere, Friday, August 19, Freevee


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