On Monday (Aug. 2), The Knockturnal was on the scene for Prime Video’s “Modern Love” season 2 special New York reception.
It was a beautiful evening. After getting rapid tested, I headed to the blue carpet, which was stationed next to seasonal oyster bar Grand Banks at Pier 25 in Tribeca. It was my first time covering an event at this location, which made the evening all the more special and unique. The views of the Hudson River were stunning at golden hour.
The eight-part second season of the popular series Modern Love brings to life a collection of stories about relationships, connections, betrayals and revelations. Each episode showcases love in all of its complicated and beautiful forms, all inspired by true events from the beloved New York Times column of the same name. The second season of Modern Love features a star-studded cast of actors including Gbenga Akinnagbe, Lucy Boynton, Tom Burke, Zoë Chao, Minnie Driver, Grace Edwards, Dominique Fishback, Kit Harington, Garrett Hedlund, Tobias Menzies, Sophie Okonedo, Zane Pais, Anna Paquin, Isaac Powell, Marquis Rodriguez, and Lulu Wilson. Showrunner John Carney served as writer, director and executive producer. Andrew Rannells directed an episode this season based upon a personal essay that he penned for the column. The season was filmed in Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York, and Dublin, Ireland.
Check out our exclusive red carpet interviews below!
On a Serpentine Road, With the Top Down: A woman’s only remaining connection to her late husband is her vintage car but now, 30-years later, she’s confronted with the difficult choice of selling it – and saying goodbye to her old love forever. Minnie Driver & Tom Burke star.
The Knockturnal: What attracted you to be involved with this episode?
Minnie Driver: The writing was wonderful, and it was a really beautiful episode. I like hard subjects like grief to explore. And grief and love are intertwined. One really being an expression of the other, in my opinion. It was just a really uplifting, wonderful episode.
The Knockurnal: How was working with John Carney?
Minnie Driver: Amazing. He is a very exacting, we didn’t always see things the same way, but I really enjoyed the creative process. I enjoy other people’s opinion, not necessarily coalescing with mine, and then learning and finding middle ground.
The Knockturnal: The episode was so beautiful and heartwarming. Where did you guys film?
Minnie Driver: We filmed in Ireland, in the Wicklow Mountains, and in Dublin.
The Knockturnal: And had you seen the previous season, were you a fan?
Minnie Driver: Oh yeah, I was a fan. I’ve always read the column, and I actually recorded for the podcast, and I’ve loved it since the beginning. Yeah, so it was really wonderful to be part of the season.
How Do You Remember Me? For two young men, running into each other reminds them of their first and only date together. But do they remember that night the same way? Marquis Rodriguez & Zane Pais star.
The Knockturnal: So how did you come to direct this episode?
Andrew Rannells: Well, I wrote this essay for Modern Love a few years ago, and when season two was announced … I’ll be honest, I gently reminded Amazon that I had written an essay and that I would love to have it be considered. And they asked me if I would consider writing it, which I got to do. And then John Carney, the showrunner and creator of the show suggested that I direct it. He was like, “I think you’re obviously in a very unique position to tell the story because it’s your story.” So he was so supportive and I had a really great team around me that helped me out. And so, yeah, it was just a very, very lucky stroke of luck there.
The Knockturnal: Were there any significant changes from the essay to the episode?
Andrew Rannells: Yeah, because the essay that I wrote is very much just from my perspective about these events that happened to me. I was 22 years old, I was on a date with this guy, first date. I got a phone call that night from my family that my dad had a heart attack and was in a coma, and I had to process that information with a stranger. And what I got to do with the episode was that I kind of got to sort of imagine what his evening was like. I know what mine was like but I wanted to just sort of give him a little more space and give him a voice in the story. Now, of course, this is imagined, I don’t know what he was actually thinking, but because we were fictionalizing it, it felt like I had a little more leeway.
The Absolutely. Yeah. I saw the episode, it’s beautiful. I feel like it’s about memory and exploring different perspectives. Can you speak about that?
Andrew Rannells: When John and I were talking about it. I had this idea to sort of do the story Rashomon style and have each person… So no one was like the star of the episode, you know what I mean? Like everybody’s voice got to be heard that night. And that was the most important thing to me in telling it. Again, it’s imagined but I would like to think that if I ever saw him again he would say, “Yeah, that’s kind of close to what I was thinking.”
The Knockturnal: And I also noticed you cast your friends in it like Zuzanna Szadkowski and Nikki M. James!
Andrew Rannells: I did. Nikki M. James, Kathryn Gallagher … It was our first job back during COVID. And it was very exciting obviously, but also very… I don’t know, I was nervous. We had to go on set.
Zuzanna Szadkowski: Yeah. It was like a whole new world. That’s what was so nice to be able to, I think, be together and have friendship so that we can support each other in this weird new landscape.
Andrew Rannells: I will say Amazon was very, very cautious. And there was a lot of testing … a lot of protocol to get through every day. But once we got through sort of doing all of that, it did just become sort of a normal set experience, I would say. Like it didn’t feel that different, right?
Zuzanna Szadkowski: No, once you get used to it and you start to feel safe, then you can do your work. So I think they did a good job of setting up a safe environment and we were able to thrive.
The Knockturnal: Do you hope to do more directing?
Andrew Rannells: I would love to do more directing. This was obviously, a very specific opportunity that was my story and that I got to write. And I’m just so grateful to Amazon that they’re telling these very specific stories. They’re more like short films than they are episodes of television. So it was a very unique way to get into that.
The Knockturnal: We’re excited to see you back on TV again.
Zuzanna Szadkowski: Well. Thank you. I’m very excited to be back on TV and to be in Andrew’s piece because it’s such a personal piece of writing for him. And so as his friend, I was so thrilled to see his writing in the New York Times, and then to see his writing come to fruition as a beautiful screenplay. And then for him to have a directing debut in this regard, I mean, I’m so proud of him. And so then to be included and to be able to sort of watch him, you know, have a front-row seat for me was very moving. I think it’s a story that will really touch people and change people and have an impact on… I think all of the Modern Love stories are very universal, but this one, I think certain people will see themselves in it and it will be really important to them. So to have a little piece of that is huge.
The Knockturnal: Absolutely. And Zane is kind of a new face on the scene, how was working with him?.
Zuzanna Szadkowski: Oh my, he’s such a sweetheart. Yeah. I think that both of the young stars of the show are incredibly versatile actors and they had such a good onset chemistry with all of us. So it’s like I had a minor role and there are all these wonderful actors playing their friends. But I think because of the two of them as sort of the nucleus of it, we all were made to feel part of this one ensemble piece. Zane is as talented as he is cute.
The Knockturnal: What’s coming up next for you?
Zuzanna Szadkowski: I have a big project coming up and so I’m really excited for that. So actually a couple of TV things coming up, and I’m also writing a movie with Andrew Rannells.
The Knockturnal: Are you both going to be in it or it’s TBD?
Zuzanna Szadkowski: It’s still in development. So who knows, but that’d be the dream I think. And so it’d be cool. So we’re writing a very personal story to us.
The Knockturnal: Have you seen the new Gossip Girl yet?
Zuzanna Szadkowski: I have seen it, yes. I’m a fan. I think they did a brilliant job. I feel like, within that first reveal in the first 10 minutes of the teachers being the new Gossip Girl, like blew my mind off. So I think they did a beautiful job of updating it … I feel like it has the same DNA, the same kind of flavor, but really relevant current. I think the new cast is great. I feel like I’m in love with each one of them in a special way.
The Knockturnal: What was it like collaborating with Andrew and Zane on this episode?
Marquis Rodriguez: It was incredible, I think that’s a perfect word. It was an incredibly collaborative process. Andrew and production period did a really good job of cutting out a lot of time for us to get to know each other in the beginning, which is a huge privilege and not very common. You don’t really get to spend time with your fellow actors and your director in that way, all the time. So it was nice to get to know everyone and work with them. And again, it just was a really collaborative process.
The Knockturnal: And how exciting was it to be filming in New York in the middle of a pandemic?
Marquis Rodriguez: Exciting, I mean this is my home. I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, so whenever I get a chance to work here, it’s amazing. It feels very right and like a puzzle piece.
The Knockturnal: I love the exploration of the two perspectives. Can you speak a little bit about that?
Marquis Rodriguez: Yeah. I think that’s what our episode sort of deals with a lot is our memory of other people and our experiences and how they differ wildly from one person to the next. I think memory is a really interesting thing that plays a really important role in our perceptions of people and I think that’s what our episode plays with a lot.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope viewers take away from this episode?
Marquis Rodriguez: I hope that people dedicate themselves to being as empathetic as possible toward others, especially knowing that your experience is not the only experience or the right experience and your memory is not the only memory or the right memory. I want people to make sure that they take that empathy away from this.
The Knockturnal: And what else do you have coming up next?
Marquis Rodriguez: Just holding out hope. You know what I mean? I’m just like every other actor right now, just auditioning and hoping for the best.
The Knockturnal: And we also saw you in Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us, what was that like for you as a young actor collaborating with her?
Marquis Rodriguez: It was an absolute dream. Ava DuVernay is a titan of our industry and she is a genius and to watch her work and to watch it so closely was an immense privilege and something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to work on this project?
Zane Pais: Well, something that was really amazing about this episode was that Andrew wrote the column for the New York Times … and then got to direct to the episode. So it was a very personal story that I got to be a part of. And that was just really dreamy for an actor to be able to work with someone who has such a personal stake in the subject matter. So that was just great.
The Knockturnal: And tell us a little bit about your character on the show.
Zane Pais: So my character, Robbie, he goes on a blind date. And it goes pretty well, but it depends on who you ask. And if you watch the episode, you’ll understand what I mean … It turns the way that neither of them expected it would. And so he’s there to be supportive, but sometimes I think that support can be, maybe a little overbearing.
The Knockturnal: How has working with Marquis?
Zane Pais: Marquis is such a great co-worker. Great actor, such a kind person. And just such a playful scene partner. It was amazing.
The Knockturnal: Are you from New York?
Zane Pais: I am. East Village. Yeah. Born and raised.
The Knockturnal: How is it filming in New York?
Zane Pais: Well, it was great. We actually filmed the episode in Schenectady because of COVID, but New York State, as long as I’m in the state, I feel very homey.
The Knockturnal: You’re from a show business family. Was acting always something you wanted to do or did you later in life figure out you wanted to do it?
Zane Pais: It was like hiccups. I acted when I was younger, and then I wasn’t really interested in it for a while. I went to school for English, creative writing. And then I just fell back in love with theater after college. And from there, I was just totally hooked again.
The Knockturnal: Do you hope to do more theater soon?
Zane Pais: Oh my God, yeah. I mean, I miss it so much. I mean, when theater comes back, I hope to be there. Absolutely.
The Knockturnal: Any other upcoming projects?
Zane Pais: Yeah. I’m going to be doing a movie in November by this really great up-and-coming filmmaker. Kit Zauhar, and she’s got a film at Locarno Film Festival right now. So I’m excited to work on that with her.
Am I …? Maybe this Quiz Will Tell Me: A middle-school girl questions her sexuality when she finds herself having feelings for another girl. She turns to social media quizzes for answers. Grace Edwards & Lulu Wilson star.
The Knockturnal: I loved your episode. Tell us a little bit about your character.
Lulu Wilson: Katie is an eighth-grader who’s just completely uncomfortable in her own skin. She’s awkward going through that stage that we all have been through or are going through. She’s trying to figure herself out and trying to figure out where she fits and how she fits with other people, and especially with herself. And it’s all about that self-discovery.
The Knockturnal: And what was it like working with your co-star Grace Edwards.
Lulu Wilson: She was amazing. We really formed a connection the minute we met. I think we started talking about books or horror movies or something, and then the extensive rehearsal process with Celine and Logan, the directors, really helped us build that connection as well.
The Knockturnal: As a working actor, what is your high school experience like?
Lulu Wilson: I am still going through the high school experience. I’m going into 10th grade.
The Knockturnal: So do you do part-time in a school and part-time with tutors / homeschooling?
Lulu Wilson: Yeah, it’s a little bit of both. I had a very similar middle school experience, as Katie. So I’ve gone through that.
The Knockturnal: What do you hope viewers take away from your episode?
Lulu Wilson: I think that just feeling of self-love and that no matter how you view yourself, you’re going to be accepted by the people around you.
The Night Girl Finds a Day Boy: A woman with delayed sleep phase syndrome meets the love of her life. The catch is: he’s awake while the sun is shining and she is not. Zoë Chao & Gbenga Akinnagbe star.
The Knockturnal: Tell me about your process of getting into character for this.
Zoë Chao: I think Sarah Hayward did such a beautiful job with the script. Then I met Gbenga [Akinnagbe] and then we didn’t really have to do much except ride the words and it’s a compelling story. Hopefully, we were able to add to it.
The Knockturnal: How was filming in New York?
Zoë Chao: It was good. I mean, just to be back filming felt like such a feat and a miracle. And I think all of us really came backfilled with gratitude that we got to work.
The Knockturnal: What do you admire about Gbenga? It was so wonderful to watch you two.
Zoë Chao: His smile. He’s also so authentically himself… just a thoughtful, smart, emotionally intelligent person who really takes care of the person that he is engaging with and is as talented as he is kind. It was dreamy to be working with him.
The Knockturnal: What do you love about New York at night?
Zoë Chao: I think it’s got a lot of mystery, there’s so much anticipation that you can feel in the air and anything could happen is sort of how I feel about New York at night. I’m much more in tuned to people who are alive and living at night ever since shooting that.
The Knockturnal: Do you have favorite New York eateries or spots you like to go to?
Zoë Chao: Oh my gosh. I love dim sum, I love ramen … I remember as a kid coming into the city and going to Serendipity and I have not done that since living in the city.
The Knockturnal: Fun fact Selena Gomez recently became a partner and investor in Serendipity and they reopened it a few weeks ago.
Zoë Chao: Really? Wow. That’s wild. Okay. I dig her music.
The Knockturnal: Anything coming up that you’d like to share?
Zoë Chao: Sure. I have an Apple+ TV show coming out later this year called Afterparty, that’s sort of a whodunnit, comedy-mystery. And I just wrapped a Netflix movie called Senior Year in Atlanta.
The Knockturnal: You’ve been booked and busy. Congratulations on all your success. Lovely to meet you.
Zoë Chao: I’m blessed. Thank you. Nice to meet you.
After our red carpet interviews, we headed into Grand Banks, which is a cute bar aboard a historic wooden ship docked at the pier. The special preview event was hosted by Prime Video in conjunction with Fire TV to showcase how easy it is to take the entertainment you love with you on the go with Fire TV Stick 4K. Towards the end of the evening, guests were given a sneak peek of season 2 projected on the sails of another boat showcasing how Fire TV Stick allows you to stream your favorite shows from anywhere. It was a pretty cool moment. Guests were also able to interact with Alexa through an immersive “Light My Fire” Routine in the Captain’s Quarters that activated red smart lights, triggered a neon sign via Amazon Smart Plug, and played love-themed music via Echo Studio, transforming the environment.
Throughout the evening guests snacked on lobster roles, mini sandwiches and watermelon and tomato on a skewer to name a few. Themed drinks included the “Hopeless Romantic,” “Commitment Phobe,” “Serial Dater,” “The Divorcee,” “The Rebound” and “Third Wheel.” Attendees left with a cute Prime Video branded sailor hat and their very own Fire TV Stick.
Last week, Prime video hosted the a New York cast and crew dinner to celebrate the show at the Times Square EDITION. Star Kit Harington was in attendance. He stars in an episode called Strangers on a Train alongside Lucy Boynton. Two strangers meet on a train from Galway to Dublin in March 2020 and decide to go old school: no numbers exchanged, only a promise that they will meet up on the train two weeks later. And then a worldwide pandemic shuts down all of Ireland.
All episodes will premiere on Prime Video on Friday, August 13 in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide and it is a can’t miss event.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images