HBO Max’s new series, based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, “Made for Love,” begs the question, if you could read your partner’s mind, would you? The series’ main character Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti) isn’t given much of a choice when her narcissistic, megalomaniac, tech billionaire husband, Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen) implants a chip in her head that allows him to do as such.
Unhappy with her isolating existence, Hazel tries to escape from the home and the marriage she has been trapped in for the last decade. Working alongside Byron are his associates and employees Herringbone and Barrett who have their own relationships with the fictional tech emperor. We got a chance to speak with Dan Bakkedhal and Caleb Foote to talk about their characters, the series, and working with Noma Dumezweni.
The Knockturnal: Would either one of you like to give a quick synopsis of what the show is about?
Dan Bakkedahl: “Made For Love” is a sci-fi with a comedy bend to it that focuses on a female heroine who is trying to escape her ten-year marriage to a megalomaniac dude that implants a chip in her head. So she is on the run trying to get the chip out and get out of the marriage. And there is this startling handsome bald guy that chases her throughout it, but we will leave that to your imagination.
The Knockturnal: Yeah, you go through a lot chasing after Hazel, what was that like when you read the script and you saw what happens to your character during this chase?
Dan Bakkedahl: Apparently, I am the perfect person for these kinds of jobs because I’ve been shot in the face, punched in the head, thrown down stairs, fingers cut off in a dozen different projects so I must have a very punchable face. I feel like that’s a good thing, you know. I mean someone has to have a punchable face. Someone has to do these jobs, these are jobs that people don’t wanna do. But for me, I look at it and think “Oh that’s gonna be awesome! How are they gonna do that? I’m gonna get to scream at the top of my lungs on purpose, I can’t wait! What day do we do that? Can we do that every day?”
The Knockturnal: Can you tell people a bit about your character?
Dan Bakkedahl: Sure, Lyle Herringbone, as I see him, is a retired Navy Seal who went on to work at the CIA and then got booted out of there for being incompetent and he found his true home working for Byron Gogol being the head of his security essentially. But I have a soft spot in my heart for Hazel and I don’t want to see her go through trouble and I like money, so I’m trying to rescue her and save my own at the same time. But, I’m kind of a fool, I just can’t seem to stop getting hurt and it appears that that dark heart of mine has grown a little softer over the years as well. So we watch this guy, Herringbone, go through Hell, but he just keeps going.
The Knockturnal: And Caleb, could you talk about your character?
Caleb Foote: Bennett Hobbs is the executive assistant to Byron Gogol and Bennett loves what he does. He loves his job so much that his social life- it definitely takes a huge hit and for that, he doesn’t really know how to interact with other people, but because of his lack of social skills, it makes his technical proficiency that much greater. He loves what he does. He’s like SpongeBob flipping Krabby Patties.
The Knockturnal: I think that’s a good way to describe him. I mean, you and Byron have a very interesting relationship. A scene that involves beer between you two guys was pretty interesting. Can you talk about your guys’ dynamic; you and Byron?
Caleb Foote: Yeah, by act four it kind of turns into a buddy comedy and it’s Byron trying to assimilate back to the real-life culture. Maybe not back because he never had a real-world grasp, so he’s trying to make the Hub accommodating and in doing so he is putting himself in situations that for normal people are normal situations, but for him it’s agonizing. And my character is right there holding his hand and I’m gonna help him along the way.
The Knockturnal: So the Hub is this mansion-like cube structure mixed with virtual reality sort-of situations. Would either of you guys ever live in a Hub?
Dan Bakkedahl: I think I just spent the last year living in the Hub. I mean, minus the non-smell thing, I got a lot of cats and dogs and kids, so I don’t need a smell cube. But, I would, sure you kidding me? How long do I have to be there?
Caleb Foote: Ten years.
Dan Bakkedahl: Oh no, I don’t want to do ten years. No.
Caleb Foote: Ten years is tough. I guess if I had all my favorite people in the whole world there, I mean I don’t even know if I could do it then. So that makes you just feel so much more for Hazel because she’s not there with her favorite person and that’s why she goes to such an extreme to get out of there.
The Knockturnal: In episode four, we kind of learn how Byron got Hazel to go into the Hub and he takes her to Rome. If you had the chance to go anywhere in the Hub, where would you go?
Caleb Foote: That’s a great question! I would go to this little island in the Caribbean that I grew up on called Montserrat and I would go to Old Road Bay and it’s just underneath the volcano.
Dan Bakkedahl: You know, if I could go in the cube and go on a trip, I’d go someplace where you wouldn’t survive without being in a cube, so I’d go to Antarctica in a bathing suit of something. I think that would be fun. Go swimming with penguins, because you’re not gonna die because it’s the cube, it’s not real.
Caleb Foote: Yeah I guess, with him having said that, I would go to Mars.
The Knockturnal: There is also a third character in this dynamic that is not here; Fiffany, who is a researcher that works with a dolphin that she uses as a test subject. Dan, your character is probably a little bit closer to her than Caleb’s. Can you talk about where Fiffany fits into this whole scenario?
Dan Bakkedahl: Yeah, first of all, we have to say, Noma Dumezweni, she is unbelievable. I had never met her, I don’t think I’d actually seen her- I knew about Noma because I knew that she had worked on the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway and in London. I was like “Oh man, this will be fun!” But, upon meeting her, we immediately fell in love. We are like brother and sister and found out so many things in common. Anyway, I could go on and on about how much I love Noma, but as a performer, she has a stillness and this seriousness that she brings to a scene that you go, “Oh man, I better start doing my homework or I’m gonna get left behind.” But, know the character of Fiffany is this researcher scientist, she’s very serious, she could have been working for any company in the world and she chose to work for this really powerful and important company that turns out to be run by a madman. I imagine it’s probably what it’s like to work for Elon Musk. I can only say that she handles with such grace. If anyone in the show has grace it’s Fiffany.
The Knockturnal: Did you guys film before COVID?
Caleb Foote: Yes, our filming was interrupted by COVID and then we came back and we did a bunch of reshoots and shot the last two episodes seven months later.
The Knockturnal: Wow, and how did that change the dynamics on set?
Caleb Foote: I mean everyone was talking through a mask, we weren’t kissing each other anymore. No, I’m kidding.
Dan Bakkedahl: I do miss your kisses, Caleb.
Caleb Foote: Actually, so pre-Covid, whenever it was someone’s birthday on set, we would bring out a cake and everyone would sing like we were all a happy family, we’ve been doing the same job and working in all of these crazy locations, so we’d bring out a cake and sing and then at the very end he would blow on the candle and it was before COVID was COVID, there weren’t any cases in the United States and we still had a birthday celebration. I won’t comment if the cake was blown on or not, but we went through the pandemic together and I think that really built our friendships. I mean it was already pretty strong just like Dan was saying about Noma, she just has this ability to be your best friend. I met Noma and after that I was just like, I am related to her. So then just going through this pandemic together and having “Oh, in six months we will eventually return, we will eventually return,” made as this kind of beacon of hope that we were gonna get through a pandemic and finish shooting it and we finished shooting it and we are still in a pandemic.
Made for Love premieres on HBO MAX on April 1st with three episodes available for streaming.