MAGNUM P.I.'s Perdita Weeks on Making Her Directorial Debut with 'Extracurricular Activities' - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

MAGNUM P.I.’s Perdita Weeks on Making Her Directorial Debut with ‘Extracurricular Activities’

June 20, 2023 by  

Magnum PI Perdita Weeks directing

MAGNUM P.I. — “Charlie Foxtrot” Episode 510 — Pictured: (l-r) Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins, Martin Martinez as Cade — (Photo by: Zack Dougan/NBC)

When MAGNUM P.I. returns for the second half of season 5, viewers will get to experience a different side of series star Perdita Weeks—director!

Weeks has played Higgins since the start of the show, but her time helming episode 18, “Extracurricular Activities,” proved to be a unique, fun challenge.

“It was great; I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Weeks tells Give Me My Remote. “It was very tough being on both sides [of the camera] at the same time, because most directors come in and they can just prep—they’re not filming[, too.] Whereas I had days when I was supposed to be on [location] scouts or prepping where I was having to be on set all day [filming the episode before], and trying to have meetings in between takes.”

“But the production was so kind and accommodating,” she continues. “I asked to be able to direct and I knew what it was going to be like, so I wasn’t asking for any sympathy; it just was hard. But I thoroughly enjoyed using a sort of completely different part of my brain and having a little bit of creative control.”

The hour was penned by Katie Varney, whom Weeks said “was already one of my favorite writers” even before they teamed up for “Extracurricular Activities.”

“I was chuffed to bits when I found out it was she who would be writing the episode I was to direct,” she gushes. “And it was really fun. I had some really great guest stars, actually. It was sort of like shooting two completely different movies. One, quite action-packed, [a] very dramatic storyline with Magnum and Higgins and some other characters. And then one incredibly heartfelt storyline featuring TC, mainly, which was just wonderful…It was great to be able to do both things in one fell swoop. I loved it.”

Magnum PI Perdita Weeks directing

MAGNUM P.I. — “The Breaking Point” Episode 502 — Pictured: (l-r) Jay Hernandez as Thomas Magnum, Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins — (Photo by: Zack Dougan/NBC)

Weeks could also lean on co-star Jay Hernandez, who had previously directed a couple of episodes of the series.

“Jay told me a lot about [the process],” she says. “And our DP and our first AD alternate [work in pairs], and they do every other episode. And we have the same two [working with us while directing our season 5 episodes]: we had Tony Kountz as first AD and Chris Duddy as our DP. And we all get on incredibly well. But those guys, you really, really lean on them when you’ve got to be in two places at once. And our script supervisor as well, Erin Mast.”

“Jay was very helpful—he’s incredibly visually creative,” she continues. “As well as, obviously, having his acting chops, which are bar none, he’s very interested in the sort of cinematic aspect of it. And he was like, ‘If there’s something you really want to do, you should just try it. Just always just try it. If you like the look of something or you want to just carve out a little bit of time to do an interesting shot, that’s what you should do.’ So it was basically giving me a bolster of confidence to try something that I ordinarily might not have done, which was great.”

When it came time to actually film the episode, “lots of time, I didn’t have time to look at playback, for example,” Weeks says. “So you kind of have to be like, ‘Was that, okay?’ And trust that they’re really keeping an eye on various things, be it, is all the hair in place or did we say all the [scripted] words? Or is that the right angle? Or is there a weird shadow on my face? Will I be able to use that in the edit? It’s incredibly, incredibly collaborative, especially in this medium, I think. And that’s part of what I love about it.”

Weeks also relished getting this experience “with the cast of characters that I know and love so well.”

“It was really, really fun getting to try and use the spaces in a slightly different way,” she says. “But it’s such an advantage knowing the show as I do and knowing the personalities and the whole crew. It was just the most brilliant way to start directing. I’m very well aware I skipped thousands of steps and I just feel very grateful to have been given the opportunity.”


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