Homecoming started as a podcast created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg, then became a huge success when it debuted for Amazon Prime in 2018. When the show got the green light by Amazon the first season stuck pretty close to the story on the podcast but the second season has deviated from the podcast to expand on stories and different characters. I had the amazing opportunity to speak with the talented actress Hong Chau where she discussed seeing her characters role expand from season one to season two.
Nancy Tapia: Well, let’s start speaking of Homecoming. Did you know that there was going to be a season two?
Hong Chau: When I signed on to do the first season, I knew that there would be a second season, and that the character of Audrey Temple would play a much larger role in the second season. I didn’t know what that story would be. They hadn’t come up with it yet but they just told me, “Just have faith in us.” That, “This is a character that we want to follow, and learn more about, and see how she tries to gain influence within this large corporation as a very average person.” And I thought that that was very interesting. So, I was ready to take that leap of faith with them and it’s a great team involved. Sam Esmail directed all of the first season, and Kyle Patrick Alvarez did the entire second season.
Nancy Tapia: I binge-watched, on Saturday, season one. And at the end for your character, it leaves you hooked like, “Wait. What? What’s with the roller?” Then going to season two, and having the chance to watch the seven episodes it was just like, “Whoa, what?” Everything started making sense. What can you say about your character for this second season?
Hong Chau: I think the writers, Micah and Eli, challenged themselves to really up the stakes, in the second season, in terms of what characters have to lose. In the first season, it was really a very contained story where a lot of it was just two people in a room talking. And in that way, it was very similar and stayed in the same realm as their original podcast, which the show is based off of.
So in the second season, we really open up the viewfinder, and we’re able to see a lot more of what’s going on at Geist Corporation. We learn about who Leonard Geist is. Leonard Geist is played by the great Chris Cooper. We find out more about the technology that Geist is working on. We find out what that red stuff in the tube is that Audrey was slathering all over her wrists at the end of season one.
I think the surprise, or the sort of overwhelming feeling that you get, at the end of watching the seven episodes, is because the writers really built up that tension, and that conflict, and that sense of mystery and intrigue, over the course of the seven episodes. They did a wonderful job of teasing the information and keeping you on your toes. Finding out how characters were related to each other and how they were really feeling about a particular objective.
Nancy Tapia: Watching this whole thing with the roller, it makes you think like wait, “Wouldn’t it be kind of awesome if something like that kind of existed?” Just in very small dosage to really help with anxiety or stress?
Hong Chau: Oh, I think we have a lot of products like that on the market. Maybe not specifically the roller, but I think we do, at least in California.
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Nancy Tapia: You mentioned Chris Cooper. You had several scenes with him, can you share your experience?
Hong Chau: Yeah, I adore Chris Cooper. He is such a kind and down to earth person. There’s always a bit of trepidation as a young actor to work with such a legend. And I’ve had great luck in being able to work with some really great people in my relatively short career. It was a joy to work with Chris because he’s an actor’s actor. He really cares about the work and the words. He’s there. He’s present. He’s a very generous and giving scene partner. I just adored working with him and also with Joan Cusack, who is another amazing veteran actor. Again, an actor’s actor. I liked working with both of them, and seeing them play off of each other, and seeing what they did when they were on camera. They’re very giving, even when they’re just off camera reading lines for the other person, which I always admire and respect.
Nancy Tapia: My favorite scenes were of you with Chris Cooper. Kinda intimidating, right?
Hong Chau: I think the character, Audrey, was intimidated by Leonard Geist, but me Hong, was not intimidated by Chris Cooper because he’s so sweet. He’s such a gentle person. He tends to play characters that are a little bit gruff and rough around the edges, but always very soulful. And I think that that sort of centeredness and down-to-earthness really comes from Chris as a person.
Nancy Tapia: What would you say were some of your difficult scenes filming season two?
Hong Chau: I think in general, we just moved very fast in terms of the shooting schedule. There was a lot to do and to fit in. It just felt like it was compressed compared to season one. Where, I don’t know why, I just felt a little bit more leisurely. I guess, because we had more locations to shoot in, in the second season. So it felt like a lot of running around and also it just felt like there were just more people. In just even the sheer number of background actors.
We had many, many days where there were just hundreds and hundreds of extras. So days like that, it is challenging in a different way. It’s not really about so much the acting as maintaining your focus as an actor. Because there is just chatter going all around you and everything’s busy, and you have to find a way to maintain focus within all of that chaos.
Nancy Tapia: Speaking of location, I was going to ask you about that. Because there were some really scenic scenes. Like the open field. Can you tell us about it?
Hong Chau: Yeah. We shot in a very dusty field. It was very hot and windy and difficult for the sound department. We had to loop all of those lines over again afterwards because the wind was blowing so much, and it was blowing some of our equipment around and creating a lot of noise in the background. That was just really tough. I remember those days shooting out in the field, but it came out looking very beautiful.
The house, the set that they built for Leonard Geist, out there, was just absolutely gorgeous. It’s unbelievable the amount of detail that goes into building those sets that we use for maybe just a couple of days and then they just get torn down and taken apart.
Nancy Tapia: Sad.
Hong Chau: So sad, yeah. I thought the set design was just beautiful and really outstanding. In general, I think the look of the show, they challenged themselves this season to really up the stakes and up everything.
Nancy Tapia: To go back a little, how did you even get involved in Homecoming, initially?
Hong Chau: I just got a call that Sam Esmail and Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz wanted to sit down and meet with me. And that’s when they told me about the character. It was just a sit down meeting. They had seen Downsizing, which had come out like right before they were gearing up for production. So, I think that they really enjoyed my performance in that movie, and it’s amazing to me that they were able to see that I was an actor playing this very different part. And it was amazing that they were able to not be hung up on that character in the movie and be able to see me playing something radically different for Homecoming.
Nancy Tapia:: I remembered you from Downsizing when I was watching Homecoming. I was like, “Oh yeah, I remember her.” Well, thank you so much for your time. I’m sure viewers are going to be enjoying season two.
Hong Chau: I hope so.
Nancy Tapia: Because your character alone left people hooked and wondering about you.
Hong Chau: Well, I hope so. I hope the audiences really enjoy the second season. I hope they’re entertained and moved and surprised.
Nancy Tapia: We’ll be. Thank you so much, and you take care, and wish you luck, and a lot of success.
Homecoming Season 2 debuts May 22 on Amazon Prime.
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