Matthew Perry says he took the Ted Kennedy role in Reelz’s sequel to The Kennedys limited series, The Kennedys – After Camelot, because “it scared me,” calling it by far the most challenging role he has ever played.
“As a man who has been forced to transform his life many times, I really admire the changes he made,” Perry explained to TV critics at TCA, calling it “impressive” how Kennedy transformed his life from the “younger guy who had a lot of bad habits to the guy who really helped a lot of people.”
“You realize what a tragedy his life was and all the horrible things that happened to [the Kennedy family].” In the project, Perry plays Ted Kennedy from age 38 until 67.
The very specific Kennedy speech pattern and accent was challenging, Perry said, describing his work with a dialect coach. “I sounded like Foghorn Leghorn,” Perry said. Director Jon Cassar did not disagree, admitting he’d been in a “panic” after Perry shot his first scene.
“You’ve’ got a lot of time” what with CBS having “almost said for sure [The Odd Couple] is not coming back, one critic told Perry. “Is the next thing you’re going to say that we all die?” the actor snarked.
“I found a tremendous amount of solace in writing and I think that will be a big part of the second half of my life,” Perry answered – the critic having eventually wound his way around to asking what he was going to do with all that time. “I wrote a play last year that got sold to London and broke the box office record at the theater” that’s moving to New York in April. “So I look for challenging roles, like this and when I have free time I get in front of the typewriter and see what comes of it.”
Katie Holmes, reprising her role as Jackie Kennedy, got asked about the Natalie Portman starring movie Jackie being out on the eve of Reelz’s launch of its sequel on April 2.
Room for all, she replied. “We are infatuated with her” Holmes said, noting the movie deals with a different period of the former first lady’s life than does After Camelot, which tackles the Kennedy clam from the death of Robert Kennedy until JFK Jr “getting in the plane,” said Cessar.
The vintage Cartier tank watch she was given to wear helped Holmes get in the character. “There was something so classic” she said about the watch. “It embodied her style and elegance, and putting it on every day it was of a certain time and I felt that elegance.”
The Kennedys – After Camelot director Cassar made a point of thanking Reelz chief Stan Hubbard for having been the franchise’s “savior” back in 2011 when History Channel walked away from what became the much-Emmy-nominated limited series. Working with him was “perfect for us, because he was such a champion the first time…I couldn’t have a better partner” Cassar said, promising critics there was no cutting of budget or production value compared to the first series, which had been developed and produced by History, including what he says is a virtual recreation of Jackie Kennedy’s New York apartment.