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Severance: Creator Dan Erickson on Casting Cristopher Walken, Blood Lists, and More

Be sure to check out our spoiler-free review of Severance’s two-part series premiere here.

Apple’s disturbing office drama Severance is one of the best new shows of the year, featuring an impressive ensemble cast that includes Adam Scott (Parks & Rec), John Turturro (The Batman, Barton Fink) and Oscar winner Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Batman Returns).

The series is set in the near future, where employees of Lumon Industries undergo the “separation” procedure, which surgically divides their memories between their work and personal lives. It’s a twisted “work-life balance” experiment with an even deeper mystery slowly unraveling with each new episode.

We spoke to creator and showrunner Dan Erickson to find out how he found this wonderfully crazy concept, what it was like collaborating with executive producer and director Ben Stiller, the cast of Christopher Walken, and more!

The real-world inspiration behind Severance’s story

Erickson revealed that he wrote the first version of the story about eight years ago, but it was eventually put on Hollywood’s blood list. “[The Blood List] is a list of all the unproduced horror and sci-fi scripts that people in the industry have pitched but no one has created,” Erikson explained.

The initial inspiration for Severance came from Erikson’s own experience working in an office.

“[Ben Stiller] brings up Christopher Walken and I was like, okay, this is a joke.”

“It was a company that made and repaired doors, and I was in this little underground office cataloging different hinges for eight hours a day,” Erickson told IGN. “And it was weird and it just wasn’t what I wanted to do. And so I would walk in in the morning and be like, God, if only I could move on to the end of the day and skip the next eight hours I would totally do that. And then I thought to myself, it’s a messed up thing to catch yourself wishing for. Less time on Earth basically.”

Erickson went on to say that the corporate world has a void that’s pretty scary when you think about it. “Each [job] had their own version of this weird corporate culture where they kind of pretend to treat you like a human being,” Erickson said. “But there is this void behind it all. And it was the fear of this kind of propelled [Severance] on.”

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Cast of Christopher Walken in Severance

Severance has a who’s who of Hollywood character actors, including Oscar winner Patrica Arquette (Boyhood) and Yul Vazquez of The Outsider. Oh yeah, and Ben Stiller directed six episodes of Season 1. But perhaps the lineup’s most surprising veteran is Christopher Walken, who plays Burt, a mysterious figure in Lumon Industries’ Optics and Design department.

“We could do it in two seasons if we wanted to, we could do it in six seasons if we wanted to.”

Erickson wanted Walken because of his on-screen chemistry with co-star John Turturro. Without getting into spoilers, Turturro’s Irving and Walken’s Burt develop an interesting relationship as the season progresses. We wanted to know how Walken was cast.
“I was still starting to talk to Ben Stiller at that point,” Erickson said. “So [Stiller] brings up Christopher Walken and I was just like, okay, this is a prank. But yes, he came and he is just adorable. He is so professional, friendly and kind. And immediately [Walken and Turturro] just got it. They already had this report you see. We didn’t have to cajole to get that from them.”

How many off seasons will there be?

Although Severance hasn’t been officially renewed for a second season at the time of writing, Erickson told us he has an endgame in mind.

“So I’m trying to keep a balance, to keep it fluid enough that we could do this in two seasons if we wanted to,” Erickson explained. “We could do this in six seasons if we wanted to. But I have a goal in mind. I have a general idea of ​​what [Lumon] is up to it and what is their plan and what will be the role of our main character in it. But there’s a lot of wiggle room there. »

There are three episodes left in Season 1 of Severance, so be sure to check it out on Apple TV+. And for more from the world of streaming, here are some first photos from Stranger Things season 4, our review of Bridgerton season 2, and find out which Back to the Future star is joining The Mandalorian season 3.

David Griffin is the TV streaming editor for IGN. Say hello Twitter.

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