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.”

Awkwafina and Sandra Oh to Star in Sister Comedy for Netflix

Awkwafina and Sandra Oh will star in an untitled sister comedy for Netflix.

Golden Globe winners Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell) and Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” Over the Moon) will star in the movie, which will deal with a lonely recluse whose life is upended when her trainwreck of a sister vows to mend their relationship by helping her fulfill her lifelong dream: to be a contestant on her favorite game show.

The writer is Jen D’Angelo, who wrote the upcoming sequel to Hocus Pocus for Disney+ and is a co-executive producer on the NBC series “The Young Rock” starring Dwayne Johnson. She was recently the on-set writer for Skydance’s sci-fi feature The Tomorrow War. Additional credits include “Solar Opposites” (Hulu), “Workaholics,” “The Millers” and “Cougar Town.”

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AMC Networks Moves Up ‘Killing Eve’ Season Three Debut

AMC Networks has moved up the season three premiere of award-winning drama “Killing Eve” by two weeks to April 12. All eight new episodes will be simulcast on BBC America and AMC.

The third season continues the story of two women with brutal pasts, addicted to each other but now trying desperately to live their lives without their drug of choice. For Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the assassin without a job, Eve (Sandra Oh) is dead. For Eve, the ex-MI6 operative hiding in plain sight, Villanelle will never find her. All seems fine until a shocking and personal death sets them on a collision course yet again.

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Stars Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer, Fiona Shaw, Kim Bodnia, Sean Delaney and Owen McDonnell return with new cast additions: Dame Harriet Walter (“Succession”), Danny Sapani (“Harlots”), Gemma Whelan (“Game of Thrones”), Camille Cottin (“Call My Agent”), Steve Pemberton (“Inside No. 9”), Raj Bajaj (“A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding”), Turlough Convery (Ready Player One), Pedja Bjelac (Harry Potter) and Evgenia Dodina (One Week and a Day).

“Killing Eve” season two is available on BBCAmerica.com, AMC.com, and the BBC America and AMC Apps. First two seasons are also available on Hulu, download-to-own platforms and Blu-ray/DVD.

Sandra Oh to Star in New Netflix Series ‘The Chair’

Sandra Oh will star in Netflix’s “The Chair,” a new six-episode, half hour dramedy centered on the chair of an English department at a major university.

Oh (“Killing Eve,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) will also executive produce.

Jay Duplass (“Transparent,” Outside In) also stars.

Oh currently stars in and is a co-executive producer of BBC America’s “Killing Eve” for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Actress in a Drama Series and received Emmy Award nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2018 and 2019) and a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Leading Actress. Additionally, she co-hosted the 2019 Golden Globe Awards alongside Andy Samberg. She won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” as well as received multiple Emmy Award nominations. Previously, Sandra starred in the Fox Searchlight feature film Sideways, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

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Duplass began acting in 2012, when Jill Soloway cast him as series regular Josh Pfefferman in her Amazon TV series “Transparent.” The show won a Golden Globe for best comedy series and multiple Emmys, and Jay was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award in 2016 for best supporting actor. Jay has starred in feature films including Lynn Shelton’s Outside In opposite Edie Falco, Pink Wall with Tatiana Maslany, Gillian Robespierre’s Landline and Miguel Arteta’s Beatriz At Dinner. Jay was also a recurring character in “The Mindy Project” and “Search Party.”

 

Season 2 of ‘Killing Eve’ on Disc June 18

BBC Studios will release Killing Eve: Season Two on Blu-ray and DVD June 18.

Picking up where the first season left off, MI6 operative Eve (Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh) renews her search for the psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer).

Extras include featurettes about the characters of Eve, Villanelle and Carolyn; the “Killing Eve” costume designer; filming on location; bringing the script to the screen; and new characters.

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BBC Studios will also release Luther: Season 5, starring Idris Elba, on DVD July 9, and a Luther: The Complete Series on DVD July 16.