Jeff Daniels, star of Showtime’s upcoming drama American Rust, said his career in television would not have been as prolific if it weren’t for his late God of Carnage co-star James Gandolfini and HBO’s The Sopranos.
“Jim Gandolfini made it happen,” the Emmy-winning actor said about his transition from stage and film to TV. “The Sopranos changed television, as did HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu. All of a sudden you have all these other places to go.”
During Showtime’s TCA slot, where Daniels joined fellow American Rust co-stars and the creative team behind the drama, the actor said that premium networks and streamers allowed for more crossover between the mediums – also citing co-star Bill Camp who recently appeared in Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit.
“I don’t know if Bill or I would get the roles that we would get if it weren’t places like Showtime and others,” he continued. “That’s where the writers went.”
Camp, who appeared alongside Daniels in Hulu’s The Looming Tower and stars as Henry English in American Rust, agreed with his co-star. For him shows like American Rust for cable and streamers are opportunities to delve deep into “characters that have rich, deep, layered existences.”
“They’re giant meals, and one wants to eat a big meal,” Camp added. “It’s just a golden age for us as actors, there’s so much great content.”
With Showtime, Oscar-nominated scribe Dan Futterman could adapt Philipp Meyer’s debut novel of the same name into a “nine-episode movie, with a beginning middle and an end,” Daniels continued. American Rust explores the tattered American dream through the eyes of complicated and compromised chief of police Del Harris (Daniels) in a Rust Belt town in southwest Pennsylvania. When the woman Del loves sees her son accused of murder, Harris is forced to decide what he’s willing to do to protect him.
For Futterman, premium cablers and streamers have given him the opportunity to bring his passion for storytelling behind the camera. The Judging Amy and Will & Grace actor-turned-writer previously worked on HBO’s In Treatment and collaborated with Daniels and Camp for The Looming Tower, which he co-created with Alex Gibney and author Lawrence Wright.
“It is enormously filling to be able to hire Bill and Mark and Dallas Roberts… to play the parts that you might have auditioned for but would have never gotten,” Futterman said. “To sit there and watch through the camera these guys bring it to full life in a way I was ever really able to as an actor.”
The panelists also spoke about bringing their experience in from rural America to screen, how the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the creative process and more.
American Rust features Maura Tierney, David Alvarez, Alex Neustaedter and Rob Yang. The series will premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday, September 12, on Showtime. Executive producers are Futterman, Daniels, Michael De Luca, Adam Rapp, Paul Martino, Katie O’Connell Marsh for Boat Rocker Studios, and Elisa Ellis.