Hong Chau and Chris Cooper Talk “Homecoming”

by Michele Manelis June 30, 2020
Hong Chau, Chris Cooper

HFPA

Hong Chau (Downsizing) resumes her role in the second season of the Amazon series, Homecoming, as caseworker Audrey Temple, now promoted from secretary to the person in charge at the wellness-based company, Geist Group, the corporate entity behind the military project. This Golden Globe-nominated psychological thriller, which sees Janelle Monáe in the starring role in the upcoming season (replacing Julia Roberts), attracted Globe-winning actor Chris Cooper, who joins the cast as Leonard Geist, the mysterious and eccentric CEO of Geist Group. We spoke to Chau and Cooper.

How do you feel Audrey has evolved from Season One to Season Two? She’s really climbed the corporate ladder.

HC: She’s evolved tremendously. I felt that for season one, knowing that she would return in season two as a major character, I was really flying blind. I didn’t know much about the character at all when I met [producer/director] Sam Esmail and the writers. They explained to me that they wanted the character to seem pretty insignificant to start and to almost be in the background until that final scene at the end of Season One where she makes that big power move over her supervisor Colin Belfast who is played by Bobby Cannavale. 

Chris, were you a fan of the first season?

CC: Yeah, I was a huge fan, and honestly, I’m not easy to please. Every aspect of the first season I felt connected with. I really appreciated the writing and the story and the pace.  What was outstanding for an actor, what I came away with was that they allowed the scenes and the actors to breathe, nothing was rushed. And it was so pleasant to watch. So, in the second season, I heard that they were looking to introduce this Geist character, and I wanted to see what was up. I took a look at the script and I thought it was something I really wanted to be a part of.

What was it about Leonard Geist in particular that you connected with?

CC: He’s my kind of man. He’s not a CEO type. He likes to get his hands dirty and it’s his interest in the land behind Geist Industries, is where he’d rather be involved, and I understood that about him. He wants to be in the field getting his hands dirty with the other field hands. 

What did you learn through playing Audrey you can take into your own life?

HC: I thought a lot about how maybe my younger self was similar in some ways to Audrey.  Like Audrey, I did not have anyone in my life who could help point me in the right direction, nobody in my family was involved in entertainment at all. When you are young or when you’re starting out in your career, you just are hoping for someone to show you a playbook and show you exactly what steps you need to take in order to get to where you want to go. And it’s a bit painful, but that’s part of becoming professionally mature, it’s about making mistakes and figuring things out. From playing Audrey I really thought about how you can be the person with the best ideas but not the person that people listen to because, especially in a corporate environment, people appreciate a certain amount of salesmanship. I had to learn that.

What shared history do you have with Geist? What did you put into the character that comes from your own life?

CC: My father had a cattle ranch, raised Hartford cattle, and for some of that, we had to plant acres of soybean and corn and a feed grain called Milo, for the cattle. So, like me, Geist is an outdoorsman and that very much fits the ruggedness of that character. So, what I am saying is, as an actor, if I can incorporate my own life experience, Chris Cooper’s life experience into a character, why not? If it fits, use it. There’s a lot of his history that is kind of similar to mine.

How have you both weathered the COVID crisis? Are you going the productive route or are you vegging out on the couch? 

HC: I am not really putting any expectations on myself to be productive during this time. I really just have a sense of calm and a feeling of gratefulness. I am healthy, my family is healthy.  I spend a lot of time switching from old movies to reading actual books on my front lawn with my dog, so it’s really just about slowing down and living moment to moment. And I think that’s something that many of us are doing during this pandemic. It’s forcing us to do that. 

CC: We have been hunkered down for the last few weeks and I have simply gotten a head start in spring cleaning turning the flower beds outside and putting the new ones in and opening the outdoor pool, stuff like that. Getting stuff done.