Seven Actors Discuss Paul T. Goldman’s Experience

Dennis Haysbert with Paul Finkelmann Paul T. Goldman.
Photo: peacock

There is a moment in the second episode of Paul T. Goldman — a surrealistic Peacock drama-documentary series about Paul Finkelman’s search for justice after falling victim to a scam perpetrated by his second ex-wife — when Ludwig Manukian, an actor who appeared briefly on the show, expresses concerns about Finkelman’s outsized role in the series. “He’s the main guy?” he asks in disbelief. “Wow. That’s weird.”

For any aspect to stand out as particularly quirky in a show as iconic and adventure formally as Paul T. Goldman is an achievement. Directed by The next Borat movie Director Jason Woolner Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the six-episode limited series features a blend of dark mystery and true crime satire, documentary storytelling, and a dramatic re-enactment of Finkelman’s life written by and starring Finkelman (under his adopted pseudonym Paul T. Goldman). . At the center of this tangled web lies Finkelman, a middle-aged man whose erratic demeanor and antics make him feel like an alien from a non-existent country.

In 2012, Finkelman grabbed Liner’s attention by relentlessly tweeting to him and dozens of other film directors about producing the script he’d written, based on the books he’d written (under the separate pseudonyms Paul T. Goldman and Ryan Sinclair) about his life — or at least his version of it. Of which. Woolner agreed, but on the condition that he could tell the story his way. His vision was to produce Finkelman’s script as written—even when some details seemed fanciful or exaggerated—while simultaneously shooting a documentary about the filmmaking process. The show’s crew will appear in both segments, with shots spliced ​​together to form the final product. And if any of this sounds confusing, television networks have unsurprisingly raised similar objections. The show has taken more than ten years to find a home and has had staggered productions and starts during that time. Woliner began filming interviews with Finkelman in 2012 and filmed a pilot in 2017, then bided his time until Peacock signed on in 2022 and could resume production. The finale, released Jan. 22, includes scenes from the Los Angeles premiere of Peacock as well as Winkelman Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance Along with Rogen.

On paper, a few might describe an actor Paul T. Goldman as their dream project. It’s an impossible-to-market, low-budget movie based on a clumsy script and starring a first-time actor that, at times, feels like it’s being exploited. But it’s full of recognizable faces from the Finkelverse that will have viewers pointing at their screens and saying, “This blah blah blah blah!” Actresses Melinda McGraw (Mad Men, The Dark Files, The Dark Knight) and Christopher Stanley (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Mad Men) play significant roles as Paul’s ex-wife and Finkelman’s attorney, respectively. Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Zero Dark Thirty, Billion), Dennis Heisbert (24, fever Allstate Insurance Spokesperson), Josh Pace (Ray Donovan, The Spill and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Woody Wallace (ET, Cujo, The Hills Have Eyes) have recurring roles, while Jake Regal (The Sex Lives of College Girls, Hollywood), a relative newcomer, has unique experience portraying Woliner while also directing.

McGraw is on the set with Finkelman in the series.
Photo: peacock

How these actors were introduced in this project varied depending on when they were on board. McGraw, who participated in the 2017 pilot, says Wollner sold her on the project over the phone even though she couldn’t envision what the show would look like at the time. The actors who signed on were subsequently sent a reel of footage to avoid any confusion, but it often required a personal note or phone call from Woliner before they agreed to the part. When Wallace gets an offer to play Terry Jay, Finkelman’s pet psychic, scheduling conflicts force her to choose between Goldman or a pilot starring Kerry Washington, but the originality of Lehner’s project tipped the scales in his favor. “It was a real fight,” says Wallace. “But I just thought, This is very unique, and if it continues, it’s going to get really big. Heysbert echoes this, noting that his role as FBI agent Portman piqued his interest because the project seemed like a refreshing change of pace from his usual day-to-day life. “It definitely wasn’t for the money,” he says, laughing.

Having a camera crew on set documenting the show’s production was a first for most of the cast, and with that extra layer of storytelling, Paul T. GoldmanAudiences can watch how the actors interact with Finkelman in all of his quirky glory. Their unscripted interactions vary from warm, like McGraw showing him the ropes of working out on a TV set, to awkward, like Goldman trying to date action star Grillo and discovering a slight overlap between them. (“It’s the worst!” Finkelman declares with conviction. “I mean, I’m having a good time,” Grillo replies.) Grillo remembers the time he and Finkelman spent together fondly. “It’s like Forrest Gump,” he says. “Whether you’re laughing at him or laughing with him, because of who he is, there’s no malice or venom involved — you just laugh.” He’s not the only actor on the show’s cast who wonders if Finkelman is a participant aware of the laughs he generates.

Grillo Inn Paul T. Goldman.
Photo: peacock

Naturally, these adorable interactions spilled over into moments that weren’t caught on camera. After the pilot wrapped, McGraw says Finkelman gave her a copy of his book, double standard With a touching inscription that reads, “Thank you for giving me the beautiful Audrey I never had.” (Finkelman’s ex-wife did not agree to star in the series, so her character was given a pseudonym.) The two have maintained a friendly texting relationship ever since. “He texted me when he saw the show’s billboard on Sunset Boulevard,” she says. “He told me about his life in Florida and the alligators. He’s the sweetest guy. What you see is what you get, and that’s a beautiful thing in this world.” Paice — his character, Ryan Sinclair, is a fantasy author who Finkelman created for himself because “James Bond wouldn’t write the James Bond books himself” — notes that after filming together, the pair shared a drive back to their hotel like “the scene was going on.” Paes asked him to elaborate on some specific details of his story, and Finkelman began to retell his entire life story in a fully dramatized fashion. “I texted Jason later, and I was like, ‘We should have filmed that,’” Pace says. Later, at the series premiere, he says Finkelman gave him a photo he took of the two of them filming and she asked him to sign it, and then the couple snapped “A year from now, we’ll take another picture of the picture.” Jason said. Everything about it is dead to infinity.”

The rivalry with Finkelman as creator for the first time presented the cast with a unique set of challenges. They had to be patient, understanding, and flexible – all while filming their scenes on fast-paced schedules thanks to the modest nature of the show’s production. What Finkelman lacked in a natural acting ability and cutting edge writing, he made up for in raw instincts and enthusiasm. Wallace coined this as a creative feature of sorts, as it allowed him to be “more honest” and “not bring his mind to it”. Sometimes this led to him being a worse scene partner, such as when he ordered McGraw to tone down the nuances of her portrayal of Audrey because he wanted her to look more “obviously bad”. “I wanted it to look like, Well, anyone could have taken itMcGraw remembers. He said, “No, there were red flags everywhere.”

Other times it made him a ruthless collaborator, like when he tried to fire Regal because he wanted Woliner to appear in the show’s dramatic scenes himself. “I found it funny,” Regal recalled. “I knew I wasn’t going to be fired and that it was just something unfolding within the confines of this exploratory space. But there is something human about seeing another human being say, ‘I don’t like this person. Can we get rid of it? “The fame bug bit him a little bit,” Stanley says he realized while filming that scene. But at the same time, it’s urine. All you have to do is meet him for five minutes and you’ll know that’s the way he is.”

Stanley responds to Finkelman in the series.
Photo: peacock

Overwhelmingly, the actors speak positively about their experiences with Finkelman, though the adjectives they use to describe him — childlike, authentic, pure, naive, off-centre, humane, honest, sweet, vulnerable, funny, himself — don’t necessarily make for On an attractive word cloud. “We’re not making fun of this guy, are we?” McGraw recalls asking and Lehner at the beginning of their first phone call. He replied, “No, we are trying to tell his story.” “But it’s also the story of his trying to find what he needs.” For most of them, Finkelman’s catharsis would have been offered that allowed them to set aside any concerns they had that he was being exploited and fully commit to carrying it out.

In fact, as production went on, some of the cast began to question whether the power dynamic was as one-sided as it first seemed. Plenty of normal people are rejected by immoral partners, Heysbert notes, but almost none get a chance to “turn their pain into profit.” Think of how difficult it must be to convince anyone of that He listens For your troubles.” So, what did Finkelman allow himself to transform himself into one of the rare few? Was it will, perseverance, and the law of transfiguration? Maybe. “Was he having sex with us the whole time?” Grillo asks. There is an archetype of the fool who is wiser than all, and I think Paul has that quality.”

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