AT&T Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes had a huge presence at the 2017 Comic Con where Mr. Mercedes‘ crazy yellow smile face logo was spotted all around downtown San Diego. The cast including Harry Treadaway, Kelly Lynch, Holland Taylor, Jharrel Jerome, and Breeda Wool were also present at the sold-out convention, participating in a panel with fans and in roundtable interviews where they discussed the dramatic thriller based on the first novel in Stephen King’s book series. In our interview with Kelly Lynch, she shared how she approached the role of Deb Hartsfield (mom to the titular character), working with Harry Treadaway, and her admiration for Stephen King’s work.
AT&T Audience Network is set to debut Mr. Mercedes on August 9, 2017.
She’s a really interesting character in the book.
Kelly Lynch: “Deb Hartsfield, those were big, alcoholic, crazy, agoraphobic shoes to fill.”
How difficult was that and what did you do to kind of get into her?
Kelly Lynch: “First of all, just the source material, like with Harry (Treadaway), that was it. That was amazing. And David Kelley just made sure the essence of what we needed was all there in those scripts. I felt like I don’t know why but it was weirdly organic for me. I just felt like I understood her. I’m a mother, I don’t have a son – I have a daughter the age of the Brady Hartsfield character – and I just understood this girl.
I talk about it as an actor that luck is almost more important than anything in a person’s life. I believe this. I believe that bad people aren’t born, for the most part. There might be some bad seeds but I feel like bad people are made and they’re victims of circumstance. And they’re human, you know? I never thought of Deb as a bad mother even. I felt like her son suffers from crippling migraines and who knows how they found their way to this place, but she takes care of him a little bit sexually and that takes his mind off of things. And, also, the fact that he has nobody who cares for him – no girl. At one point in the episodes I say, ‘You’re so handsome. You’re so smart. You’re so resourceful. You’re so incredible. I would think that girls would be dripping off of you.’ She really sees Brady as this. She’s so proud of him. He holds two jobs for them. He takes care of everything for her. She can’t leave the house. She does not leave the house until she does…which is a really amazing situation for her. She tries to pull herself back into the world. And, by the way, you will root for her. You’ll see her as a human being and you’ll see her want to make it.
I didn’t prepare anything but let the material tell me who she was. And then Harry and I immediately felt like we were working together. We just clicked. The first day we worked together it was like, ‘You’re in my tribe.’”
That’s different from the book then because you really do not root for her in the book.
Kelly Lynch: “Yeah, I know. We all felt like her part… I told this to Stephen, she felt more like a device in some regard giving an excuse for the boy to be who he is. I said I felt like she contributes to it because he feels like, ‘Okay, I don’t have a girlfriend. I have my mother.’ You love and hate someone for that, especially hate them because, ‘Why are you pretending like you like me because you have to, because you’re my mother.’ Whatever it is, that inner dialogue that would go on.
But, you know, to me it wasn’t that she did those things. It’s this is the weird co-dependent world that they live in. This is how it works for them and this is where they found themselves. This is what dysfunction creates over the years they’ve been together, just the two of them. And how it metabolizes in Brady, what contributes to that? Certainly, his mother’s part of that but not the full (push) I felt in the book more strongly, for sure.”
Do you think she senses there’s evil within him?
Kelly Lynch: “There’s a point where she starts to see there’s another side to him that she hasn’t been focusing on. […] You know when a child is caught for murder, when there’s evidence, you’ll see parents going, ‘No. There’s no way. There’s absolutely no way my son shot that person.’ You’ll say, ‘There’s video of it.’ ‘But that’s not him.’ I think that’s one of the weird, crazy things about being a parent, the way you see your kids. Who they really are is not always available to a parent.”
How much do we get into her backstory when Brady was young?
Kelly Lynch: “A lot, and it comes throughout the 10 episodes. The first time you meet Deb, the first couple of episodes, it’s like, ‘Oh my god!’ The squalor that she lives in and everything. My mom always goes, ‘How’s your hair going to be for this job? How’s your wardrobe?’ I said, ‘Mom, I’m just going to tell you right away…’ And then she read the three books and then she’s like, ‘This is an amazing part!’
You start to find out who she was and I think then the humanity of the whole situation is helped a lot. You start to feel like, ‘Oh my god, this poor woman,’ as opposed to, ‘She’s a monster.’”
How are you describing Mr. Mercedes?
Kelly Lynch: “Well, in a time where we’re like us and them, red and blue, this and that, I feel like it’s us. It’s us. We’re us and this is a show about how us becomes that – whether it’s a Tim McVeigh or Dylann Roof. We’re talking about building walls and shutting airports down and this and that, and this kind of terror that we’re living with, this kind of disenfranchisement where people don’t feel part of the status quo and they don’t feel like they have an opportunity, where they’ve fallen off the ledge of the world, you know? Some of those people get really angry about it and react in a way like a Dylann Roof or a Tim McVeigh or a Brady Hartsfield. It’s the reality that we’re living with.
And, we’ve also lost our manners. I feel like we wouldn’t have been those people. I remember as a kid hearing about the guy in the bell tower the first time this happened, like a person shooting people from a bell tower in Texas. I was a little kid going, ‘What?!’ I was trying to think about a person killing people with a rifle in a university. For hours, they couldn’t get him from the bell tower. You know, Stephen King is interested in the monster in all of us, what ignites that. Is that possible in me? We are ‘it.’”
Were you a Stephen King fan?
Kelly Lynch: “Huge. I mean, when he came on the set to do that little cameo I almost couldn’t handle myself. And I agree with him – I love The Shining but I thought the book was so much better. First thing I was like, ‘Deb Hartsfield, am I okay? Is that okay?’ And he’s like, ‘Yes!’”
Watch the full Kelly Lynch Mr. Mercedes interview: