SPOILER ALERT! This post contains details from Episode 4 of AppleTV+’s Dear Edward.
Connie Britton dives deep into the multifaceted grieving process of her character Dee Dee in the latest episode of the AppleTV+ series Dear Edward.
Dear Edward follows 12-year-old Edward Adler, played by Colin O’Brien, who survives a devastating commercial plane crash that kills every other passenger on the flight, including his family. As Edward and a diverse ensemble of others affected by the tragedy try to make sense of life after the crash, unexpected friendships, romances and communities are formed.
Britton’s Dee Dee — a New York socialite who, on the surface, appears to be living a fairly privileged and frivolous life — is one of those whose life is turned upside down after the crash, which kills her husband Charles. In Episode 4, Dee Dee begins to uncover a part of her husband’s life that she never knew about. After discovering that he had lost his job more than a year prior and had accrued massive debt, all while living a double life in Los Angeles, Dee Dee assumes that he’d been having an affair. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story.
Dee Dee travels to Los Angeles, where she realizes that her husband had been paying for a condo in the city not for some clandestine affair, but to provide a safe place for LGBTQ+ youth in need. He’d been an impactful volunteer at the local LGBTQ+ outreach center and, eventually, he did enter a sexual relationship with a man.
“Not only is it so difficult for her to realize that she was living a lie, but the whole reason she was living a lie is because her husband was holding on so tightly to who he thought he was supposed to be and who she thought he was supposed to be that he had to create a whole other existence and not tell her,” Britton said.
Britton spoke with Deadline about reuniting with Friday Night Lights creator Jason Katims to develop her character’s grieving process, and how Dee Dee will begin to move forward from the pain of knowing that the part of her life that she’s lost was never what it seemed in the first place.
DEADLINE: This episode starts to really unfold the layers of Dee Dee’s grief in a way we haven’t seen yet.
CONNIE BRITTON: I know, it ended up being a really rich journey. That’s what I liked about playing this role. She goes through the fundamental grief of loss, and then it’s the deeper discovery that she has been living a lie. It’s been a lot of fun.
DEADLINE: We see her experience a whole range of emotions as she discovers the truth about Charles’ life in LA in this episode. How do you ride that emotional rollercoaster with your character, especially when she’s cycling through several stages of grief in one scene?
BRITTON: For an actor, that’s the most fun to do. The more levels that the writers give us, and the more complexity and dimension we get in terms of like the discovery process, it really just makes it so much fun. These writers really did that. Jason and I talked so much all the way through about what this journey was going to be and really broke it down. I never want to do a scene unless it is a central part of the story. I never want to do something that feels superfluous. So we really were able to pinpoint exactly what she is discovering in each moment and how she’s managing that. Of course, it’s such a fun character. I think the thing that I’m hoping people are going to connect to about this show is just that we all deal with grief. Everyone deals with it in their own way. It’s such an incredibly unique experience, and yet at the same time, it’s such an incredibly universal experience. Dee Dee is such a specific character, and there’s something extremely detailed and specific about how she handles every aspect of the discoveries of her life. Yet, I think that there’s also something very universal about that, that I’m hoping people are going to connect to and relate to.
DEADLINE: What were the conversations with Jason like to develop Dee Dee?
BRITTON: When we first talked about the character, it was really important to me that I didn’t want to just have her be reactive. There was so much coming at her throughout the show, and when when Jason and I first talked, he had a very specific backstory and journey that we were going to discover about Dee Dee’s husband. I was kind of like, ‘Okay, great. So I get who he was. But who’s Dee Dee? What’s her journey going to be?’ I didn’t just want her to be in reaction. So we really talked about it a lot, and ultimately, we really broke it down in terms of what their background had been. They came together so young. They didn’t come from a lot of money, They were really young and scrappy and had this great love and also success. When you get so entrenched in a relationship, it’s easier to put on blinders and not really look at who you are and who the other person in your relationship is. It’s easier to do that and just to be in denial about it than to actually have to shake up the conventions that you’re working so hard to fulfill. I think that makes it doubly difficult for Dee Dee, because all of the trappings of the life that she thought she had with her husband were so essential to her very existence and to her very sense of self. So, to realize that none of that was true, that was something that Jason and I really wanted to hone in on. Not only is it so difficult for her to realize that she was living a lie, but the whole reason she was living a lie is because her husband was holding on so tightly to who he thought he was supposed to be and who she thought he was supposed to be that he had to create a whole other existence and not tell her.
DEADLINE: At the end of the episode, Dee Dee gives T that watch. I think it’s a departure from what we might expect of her, and it’s a moment where she could make herself the victim and she chooses not to. What do you think that moment means for her moving forward?
BRITTON: That moment was really an important, transformative moment for her because to some degree, she’s lived a very ‘me, me, me’ existence. In my mind, her decision in that moment was two-fold. It was, ‘I can’t hold on to this relic, something that represented so many things that weren’t true about my relationship.’ She’s so vulnerable at this moment, and it’s like she’s been chipped away to her raw self. It may be the first moment where we’re seeing her capacity to really live in a way outside of herself, as opposed to the way she’s been living up until then.
DEADLINE: At some point, she will have to tell her daughter about all of this. How is that going to play out?
BRITTON: Well, let’s just say that she doesn’t handle it very well. That’s actually not true. It’s not that she doesn’t handle it very well. It’s messy. I love the messiness of it, and the messiness of it in future episodes comes from not only just this huge bombshell of the truth of this, but also the undercurrents of how living this lie has affected the relationship between Dee Dee and her daughter. It’s messy because of who they are to each other. So that relationship also needs to be unraveled as they start to acknowledge the truth in their lives.
DEADLINE: What about this budding relationship with Linda? Where will that go?
BRITTON: It’s interesting. I think Linda is a really important representation of her capability of mothering and also her limitations of mothering and the contrast of her experience dealing with Linda and dealing with her own daughter. I think it’s really important to Dee Dee, and as the season moves on, we ended up focusing a little bit more on Dee Dee dealing with her actual daughter. But I think that so much of that is because of this relationship that continues with Linda.
DEADLINE: I’ve always admired your role as Tami Taylor in Friday Night Lights. She embodies womanhood really beautifully, and I’m wondering if there’s anything you took from that character that you’ve infused into other roles, like Dee Dee?
BRITTON: I learned so much from playing Tami Taylor. I learned so much from that character and the potential of what we can discover about the characters that we play and the stories that we tell and the relationships that we create. That was a big education for me, and I’ve really tried to hold on to a lot of what I learned playing that role in terms of just trying to connect as much as possible to whatever it is inside me that informs any character that I play. Even though, of course, many and most of the characters that I play are actually very different from me. But what I learned from playing Tami is that my own history can give me information about any character that I’m playing. I try to always make sure to access that, so it gives it authenticity. Any role that I play, I hope has assurance of authenticity and integrity to it.
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