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INTERVIEW: Sharon Horgan and the Cast of ‘Bad Sisters’ Talk About Rehearsing Their Sisterly Bond

Sharon Horgan and the cast of Bad Sisters at a funeral

Bad Sisters is about to be the latest dark comedy on hit Apple TV+ and with it comes the Garvey sisters, who only have each other to love and support, but when tragedy strikes their family, it seems to be the Garveys themselves who may be the ones behind it. It’s dark, twisted, but also a hilarious look at sisterhood and what these women would all do for each other.

Another entry in Sharon Horgan’s brilliant writing catalog, Bad Sisters has Horgan’s charm and wit mixed in with a darkness we’ve come to know from her work with Catastrophe and Divorce and more. With Bad Sisters, there are so many layers to the Garvey sisters and their pain that each new episode is a fascinating look into their relationships with each other and their own families, and it is so easy to get wrapped up in the story.

During my interviews with the cast, one of the things that I found most fascinating is that the cast had a rehearsal period for the show. That’s typical with theatre productions, but rarely do we get to hear about actors rehearsing for a television series or even a movie. So, I asked the cast about that process and how it helped them connect with their characters and their roles.

Sharon Horgan

“It was so easy, rehearsal time was built into our production schedule, and so we swam together, we ate together, we talked, we just really got to know each other,” Horgan said about the rehearsal process and getting to know her sisters. Horgan shared that she had worked with co-star Eva Birthistle before and that she admired them all.

I went on to ask more about the rehearsal process and if this was something she enjoyed because it is so rarely seen in film and television. “It’s really rare, I did a film called Together and we had as much rehearsal time as we had filming time and it was amazing. It was like theatre. For that reason you really got to work it out but that’s so unusual. For the most part, you just hit the ground running. You might get a day if you’re lucky. For this in particular, it was just really worth it.”

Claes Bang and Anne-Marie Duff

Anne-Marie Duff plays their sister Grace, a woman who is in an abusive relationship with JP (Claes Bang) and doesn’t have a choice in her life. Her sisters want her to be happy and free from JP, which then brings the chaos of the Garvey sisters in full force. With the rehearsal process, though, it wasn’t just a collaboration between the actresses who are playing the Garvey sisters. It extended into the cast as a whole and helped create the relationship between Bang’s character and Duff’s.

“You have to buy that marriage, as distorted and unhealthy as it is,” Duff said. “That was a huge priority for us that we thought it was as authentic as possible. It is a heightened reality this show, it’s very funny, but we wanted the audience to believe that they’d been married for years. That the beginning had been a positive one, so we tired to be as truth as possible around that.”

Bang echoed Duff’s response: “It was important to us that it was real, truthful, and that you didn’t just feel that we were doing a parody or caricature of an abusive relationship. When we come into the story, they’ve been together a long time and when we come into the story, it’s gone astray. It’s gone wrong. And there’s no way back but you need a sense of why they found each other in the first place so we sort of tried to see if we could establish that.”

When I asked specifically about the rehearsal period as a cast, Duff gave insight into how it works for film and television: “The point of rehearsing for work on camera is always to decrease the space between people, to try and fast track intimacy. So that you feel like ‘oh these people really are related, these people are really married’ and if you’re rehearsing a play, you have weeks and weeks to do that gradually but when you’re filming, it can be as much as learning to have a giggle together or learning to create some silly chemistry together. That sort of work really really helps.”

And yes, I had to keep my cat Benji from making his starring appearance in the last two interviews because he decided it was his time to shine.

Sarah Green and Eva Birthistle

Sarah Green, who plays Bibi, and Eva Birthistle, who plays Ursula, also brought up the rehearsal and how it helped them form a bond with each other outside of just being thrown into the process and jumping into filming.

“We had about two weeks of rehearsal and hanging out and we went for swims so our director could make sure we could actually swim and some of us knew each other a little bit beforehand,” Birthistle said about forming that bond we see on camera. “Some of us had worked together beforehand so there was a very quick and easy dynamic that happened between everybody but we had a bit of lead in time to talk through scripts and character and story and all that.”

Sarah Greene, also highlighted how the rehearsal process helped them built out their characters and relationships: “Things that weren’t necessarily on the page but really helped us figure out their relationships and dynamics, stuff from when they were kids, their childhood, and that then kind of informs the characters and their dynamics.”

Bad Sisters premieres on Apple TV+ on August 19 and is another must-see from Horgan!

(featured image: Apple TV+)

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Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast.