Dana DeLorenzo graced with amazing new series
A year after her classic role as Deadite-slayer Kelly Maxwell on ” Ash vs. Evil Dead ” came to an end, Dana DeLorenzo is once again living in a state of grace — and appropriately it’s in the critically acclaimed noir drama series “Perpetual Grace, LTD.”
Wrapping up its first season with its 10th episode on Sunday on EPIX , “Perpetual Grace, LTD” follows the twisty plight of James ( Jimmi Simpson), a hopeless drifter who is lured into a seemingly simple plan to pilfer $4 million from pastor Byron Brown (Sir Ben Kingsley) and his wife, Lillian ( Jacki Weaver). Unbeknownst to James, “Pa,” as the pastor is known, is far more dangerous than he could have imagined, and the unforeseen circumstances pull the deeply damaged soul into a labyrinth from which there appears to be no escape.
Damon Herriman plays Paul Allen Brown, the manipulative, estranged son of the Browns who concocts the plan with his scheming girlfriend, Valerie Spoontz ( DeLorenzo ) — a used car saleswoman who ropes an unsuspecting sheriff, Hector Contreras (Luis Guzmán ), into the plot.
” The series is so gripping. I’m such a fangirl of this show, ” DeLorenzo enthused in a recent phone conversation from Los Angeles. ” And it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a small part of it, which I am grateful for. But I love the show as a viewer as much as I loved filming it. ”
One of the most refreshing shows to come down the television pike in quite some time, “Perpetual Grace,” created by Steven Conrad and Bruce Terris , is a wildly imaginative series that clearly tips its cap to Alfred Hitchcock. Still, the series doesn’t take 100 percent of its cues from The Master of Suspense, and in fact, it sometimes seems to employ the dark humor of the Coen brothers. Almost seeming to defy any sort label, one thing is for certain: With “Perpetual Grace,” Conrad and Terris elevate the mystery genre.
” People are trying to fit it in a box and this show does not fit in a box. I love its originality, ” DeLorenzo said. ” How I’ve been describing it is a ‘Hitchcock-inspired, dark comedy thriller with heart.’ If there’s any influence that Steven and Bruce have talked about, it is Hitchcock, even in the script, it would say, ‘Hitchcock close-up.’ They bring in that dark, suspenseful thriller aspect in a very specific way — the way that Hitchcock might — but then incorporate comedy by turning the situation on its head in a way that borders on the absurd. Because life can be pretty absurd during tumultuous times. And the absurdity makes it hilarious. ”
By saying “absurd,” DeLorenzo doesn’t mean “Perpetual Grace” is a farce, but rather has moments where the scenes can be darkly comedic amid some very serious circumstances.
” In those really dark moments, you can have a character like New Leaf (Chris Conrad), carrying around a Chili’s buzzer that he rigged to his parents’ life support, which will light up when his parents die. He gets an identical buzzer while he’s waiting for a table at a Chili’s. He confuses which one is which, ” DeLorenzo continued. ” Suddenly one of them goes off. Is it the parents-are-dead buzzer, or your-table-is-ready-buzzer? The suspense creates tension and ultimately some painfully funny dialogue. ”
DeLorenzo added that the moment isn’t “funny like a one-liner,” it’s funny because in life’s darkest moments, there can be things that are oddly amusing.
” What makes ‘ Perpetual Grace, LTD.’ such a compelling story is the characters. They are completely original, nuanced and wonderfully specific. And yet, relatable. You root for these characters because they’re broken, struggling to relieve the guilt for something they caused. Each of them wants to right their wrong, ” DeLorenzo explained. “But the harder they try, the worse everything gets, and eventually they all become intertwined in a spider-web-in-quicksand kind of way.”
” It’s morbid and tragic, yet optimistic. But it’s also wonderful, comedically . I really love how Steven and Bruce know how to swing that pendulum a certain amount, ” DeLorenzo said. ” It never gets too serious or too silly. Right when it’s about to go one way, the pendulum swings back to the other. I really commend them for how effortlessly they do that. ” DeLorenzo said the opportunity to do “Perpetual Grace” came around when she least expected it, thanks to her previous connections to Conrad and Terris , who she worked with together and separately 10 years ago on some TV pilots in Chicago. And while the actress’ screen time is far less than the time she spent on ” Ash vs. Evil Dead, ” DeLorenzo didn’t spend her time off away from the set, but rather shadowing Conrad directing every chance she could get.
Perhaps DeLorenzo’s biggest coup on “Perpetual Grace” was having the opportunity to watch Kingsley in the fifth episode of the series, which features a stirring, four-page monologue that the Oscar-winning actor shot over the course over three days. She said the opportunity was “a masterclass on acting” and gave her and Kingsley the chance to bond, simply because both are such huge admirers of Conrad’s writing.
” When Steven introduced me to Sir Ben, of course, I fumbled, I couldn’t even say ‘ honor to meet you’ in a complete sentence. But he was so gracious and kind, he took my hands and kissed both sides of my cheeks, so I finally stopped blabbering, ” DeLorenzo recalled. “And then we started talking about the writing, and how he jumped at the chance to do this, which Steven said was thrilling because he was their dream choice for the role.”
What came next is a moment DeLorenzo said she will never forget, mainly out of potential embarrassment.
“I said to Sir Ben, ‘Yeah, Steven is such a brilliant writer that all you have to do as an actor is just say the lines, like David Mamet said.’ And his response was, ‘You’re absolutely right.’ I remember thinking after that, ‘I hope Ben Kingsley doesn’t think him I’m giving him notes on how to act!'” DeLorenzo said, laughing.
Luckily, DeLorenzo said, Kingsley is a “consummate professional with zero ego,” which made an already satisfying experience on “Perpetual Grace” all the more worthwhile. “Being part this show has been a tremendously exhilarating experience,” DeLorenzo said. ” I’m just counting the days to when, hopefully, we go back to work. Because I miss it. I’m desperate to see where this story and characters go from here. ”
And while DeLorenzo has already had a dream job as one of stars of ” Ash vs. Evil Dead, ” the opportunity to do a show like “Perpetual Grace” helped her scale even higher professional heights after a decade and a half of struggles trying to get a foothold as an actor in Hollywood.
“I’m passionate about ‘Perpetual Grace’ because after 15 years of the highs and lows and rejections and triumphs, it’s all worth it when I get to work on something I love with people I’ve admired for a while — especially when those people are all passionate about the work, and everyone’s there for the same reason you are: to bring a story to life,” DeLorenzo said, humbly. ” I get to be part of a dream team and everyone is a team player. I don’t take a day of it for granted because that kind of camaraderie is what it’s about, man. ”