Sandra Oh, Amanda Peet Discuss Working on New Netflix Series ‘The Chair’

Despite a long and varied award-winning career, Canadian/South Korean actress Sandra Oh says her Asian American character in Netflix’s new series, “The Chair,” is the closest role to herself she has ever played.

The series, which bows Aug. 20 from showrunner/actress Amanda Peet, features Oh’s character Ji-Yoon, who becomes the first woman of color to become chair of the English department at a fictional New England university. In her new position, Ji-Yoon tries to meet the dizzying demands and high expectations of a failing English department.

Netflix interviewed Oh and Peet about the series and the collaboration process and the pressures of playing a woman in charge.

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How did the concept for “The Chair” originate?

Peet: “For a while [producer] Jay Duplass and I were batting around a movie idea about a widower who was becoming an empty nester. And that led to this idea of a female boss whose employee does something transgressive. What would happen if she were in a very long standing, intimate relationship with this person and thought he was — deep inside — a very good person and a person with a sound moral compass. What would that be like? Those two ideas sort of got mushed together and that’s when I started writing.”

How did Sandra get involved?

Peet: “I saw her in the play Stop Kiss at the Public Theatre in 1998. I was like, who the fuck is that? ‘Cause she lit up my world. And then we briefly worked together and then I wrote this part and I thought “What actress who’s in her forties, is really sexy and playful, can do a pratfall, is really funny, and also can do a romance — like has that ability to have that longing — and then can pass as someone who has a Ph.D?”

Oh: “I passed!”

Peet: “It was a tall order, but once I got her in my head, I couldn’t stop thinking about her for it.”

Oh: “It was fully formed. I could feel the world and mostly I could feel her voice in it and what I feel like she was driving at, hidden inside a comedic tone. But that’s also the layered nature of the writing.”

Sandra, you mentioned that when you received the script it was the first time seeing an authentically Korean name in there.  How did you react when you saw the cultural specificity?

Oh: “When I saw the name in the pilot, it was one of the first things that just lit up something inside, actually seeing a Korean woman’s name on the page. And that that would be my character’s name and all the characters around it would have to say my name correctly, and that was just a beautiful, sparkly gem that made me go, huh. It meant a lot to me.”

Sandra, you also serve as an executive producer. What was your collaboration with Amanda like?

Oh: “I love that nothing was too precious. We would definitely have discussions about stuff, but it wasn’t what the show is about. It’s about what the character is going through. The character is trying to make a bridge between her father who speaks Korean and her daughter who speaks English. So any kind of specificity is not about getting it right, let’s say, for a Korean-American audience at all, it’s about getting it right for the characters and this family specifically.”

Peet: “We both wanted to explore how exhausting it can be to, first of all, be a woman in a supervising role, but also to be a person of color on top of that. You have to do your job, then you also have to navigate all of this subliminal shit that goes on because you represent a change in culture. When you are a woman of color you’re constantly being put to the test in covert ways (and blatantly) — white men don’t experience this added pressure when they are ascending the ranks of their professions.”

Amanda, what was it like collaborating with Sandra as both actress and executive producer?

Peet: “She might as well be a writer because her notes are spot-on and her attention to story is so rigorous, that I really feel like she should try it at some point. She’s an extraordinary actress, but then also she’s very good at story.”

2012

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Sony Pictures;
Sci-Fi;
$30.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense disaster sequences and some language.
Stars John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson
.

There’s nothing like a Roland Emmerich disaster film to brighten your day during a pandemic, making our current situation look rosy by comparison.

The director (The Day After TomorrowIndependence Day) has given us many an epic about the end of the world, but none perhaps so gloriously catastrophic as 2012, in which we watch cities collapse and continents crumble as John Cusack mugs his way through the chaos famously predicted by the ancient Mayans. Basically, it’s something about planets aligning, solar flares, the center of the Earth heating up and the world ending in 2012 (Transpose the last two numbers and you get 2021. Hmmm…). But honestly Emmerich fans don’t really dwell too much on the whys and hows of it all. They’re too busy waiting for the next earthquake, volcano explosion and tsunami to wipe out America and the world. Iconic shots include Los Angeles sliding into the ocean, St. Peter’s Basilica rolling over worshippers, and the John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier toppling onto the White House — all of which look disastrously wonderful in 4K with HDR.

Woody Harrelson offers some scene-chewing dark humor as a conspiracy theorist waiting at Yellowstone National Park for the explosion of the super volcano. The president (Danny Glover) and his daughter, a scientist who predicts it all, a Russian oligarch and his mistress, and a plane-flying stepdad all make appearances, but at the core of the film is Jackson Curtis (Cusack), a struggling writer and limo driver who is trying to save his ex-wife and children from pending doom. The actors add to the fun with performances that are, as always in an Emmerich film, bordering on the cartoonish, but just convincing enough to keep audiences relishing the action and going with the premise.

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The 4K disc features Dolby Atmos sound and the Discovery Channel’s 2012 Apocalypse featurette, which speculates on the likelihood of the disastrous events in the film using footage from the movie. Actually, the featurette is interesting because it answers some of the scientific questions one might have about how probable this all is. (Basically, it’s not. Whew!)

Bonus features on the Blu-ray in the combo pack include an interactive Mayan calendar; five featurettes on bringing the epic to life; deleted scenes; an alternate ending; “Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision”; feature commentary; and an Adam Lambert music video.

2012 is one of those 4K discs that enthusiasts are going to want pop into their player to show off their home theater.

Disaster Film ‘2012’ Coming to 4K UHD Jan. 19 From Sony

The disaster film 2012 will come out on 4K Ultra HD Jan. 19 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

From Roland Emmerich, director of The Day After Tomorrow and Independence Day, comes the action-adventure movie about the end of the world, starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Danny Glover and Woody Harrelson. As the world faces a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions, cities collapse and continents crumble.

Bonus features on the 4K disc include Dolby Atmos sound and Discovery Channel’s 2012 Apocalypse featurette. Bonus features on Blu-ray include an interactive Mayan calendar; five featurettes on bringing the epic to life; deleted scenes; an alternate ending; “Picture-in-Picture: Roland’s Vision”; feature commentary; and an Adam Lambert music video.

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‘The Romanoffs’ to Debut Oct. 12 on Amazon Prime

Amazon Prime Video announced the Oct. 12 premiere of “The Romanoffs” at the Television Critics Association Summer 2018 Press Tour over the weekend.

The SVOD service also released a new teaser revealing the line-up of guest stars featured in the series created, written, directed and executive produced by nine-time Emmy award winner Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men”).

“The Romanoffs” is a contemporary anthology series, set around the globe, featuring eight separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. The series was shot on location on three continents and in seven countries collaborating with local productions and talent across Europe, the Americas, and the Far East, according to an Amazon release. Each story takes place in a new location with a new cast.

In addition to the previously announced cast, including Isabelle Huppert, Diane Lane, Christina Hendricks, Paul Reiser, Amanda Peet and John Slattery, Amazon announced guest stars, including Noah Wyle (“Falling Skies”), Kathryn Hahn (“Transparent”), Kerry Bishe (“Halt and Catch Fire”), Jay R. Ferguson (“Mad Men”), Ben Miles (“Collateral”), Mary Kay Place (“Big Love”), Griffin Dunne (“Imposters”), Cara Buono (“Mad Men”), Ron Livingston (The Conjuring), Clea DuVall (“Veep”), Radha Mitchell, (Silent Hill) and Hugh Skinner (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).