Mad Men creator Matt Weiner appeared right at home alongside former Mad Men star Christina Hendricks on today’s Deadline’s The Contenders Emmys panel on Weiner’s latest creative effort for Amazon Prime Video: The Romanoffs, a wildly innovative eight-part anthology series about modern-day people who either are, or believe themselves to be, descendants of the Russian Royal Family of the title.
Along with Hendricks, the series features big name film and TV stars including Hendricks’ co-star Isabelle Huppert, John Slattery, Diane Lane, Aaron Eckhart, Kathryn Hahn and Corey Stoll.
On a panel moderated by Pete Hammond, Weiner said he embraced the anthology genre as a way to stand out on TV’s crowded landscape, “having these sort of jewels thematically related to each other.”
He added that he hopes the idea of being connected to the legendary Romanoffs will tap into “the collective national low self-esteem” that has average people running to 23andMe.com or Ancestry.com hoping to find a connection with someone famous or important. For an American audience, Weiner said: “I liken it to the Kennedys. If I told you I was related to the Kennedys, you’d understand what this show is all about.”
Weiner let slip what happens to Hendricks’ character, and actress starring in a somewhat cheesy film about the Romanoff family that turns into a behind-the-scenes horror show. Deadline refrains from that here not to spoil the fun. However, Hendricks clashes with her imperious director, Huppert. “I was (interested) in working the idea of two redheads squaring off,” Weiner joked.
For her part, Hendricks said she dissolved into “giggling, literally like piddling” emotional mess when she first met the legendary French actress Huppert, but found Huppert wonderfully generous and down-to-earth off camera.
She added that it was cathartic to play an actress in the process of making a movie and said she hoped the show would help friends and family understand the pressure. “You don’t understand how mind-f-ky it can be,” she said.