AE: Is the group marriage not a social issue? I ask because at one point when Lacy first goes over there, she’s sort of, "Oh, I’ve met some kids from group marriages." It seemed to me like she was a little surprised, as if it was kind of unusual.
JE: Yes, she was surprised. It’s a little unusual, but not hugely so. It’s probably the same as if you showed up and discovered someone you knew well was in an interracial relationship and you’d never known it. You’d have a moment of surprise, and then you’d be like, "Oh. I’m surprised because I didn’t know, not because it’s shocking or anything."
Sasha Roiz, Sina Najafi, and Easi Morales
AE: Sam is revealed as being gay in a very casual, off-handed way. Nothing on television happens by accident, so what was the thinking in that revelation?
JE: I particularly wanted him to come out in a very casual way, like you said, and I wanted him to come out in a casual way in front of Willy [Sam’s 11-year-old nephew], so that we knew that Willy knows. If we know that Willy knows, then that tells us in an instant that this is not shocking or something you’d hide from kids. It’s not even the first time Willy’s heard about it. It’s just the way the things are.
AE: We’ve already seen Sam kill once in the pilot, and at the end of episode 103, he is tasked with killing someone rather shocking who we won’t mention here. How do you feel about the character of Sam? How do you view him? On one hand, he has a loving home life and a great relationship, but he’s also a killer.
JE: He’s a killer, but he’s not a crazy serial killer or a psycho killer. He is a man with a job. He’s the hit man with a heart of gold. He metes out justice because he doesn’t feel that the authorities are the people who can best do that. He feels that he’s grass roots. The Halatha is an organization of the people and it metes out justice. He’s just the instrument that does that.
I think he would prefer to not be in that line of work ultimately. He talks about if he and Larry were to have a family, he would not want to be in that line of work. I think he has a strong ethical core; it’s just that his job happens to be a very tough job with tough decisions. If he worked in a hospital and had to decide when that patient was beyond saving, he would probably see it as fairly similar. He has a job that regrettably just happens to involve decisions of life and death.
AE: Maybe I misunderstood the Halatha. Are they analogous to the Mafia or…
AE: So you described them as meting out justice. I don’t really think of the Mafia as meting out justice so much as ruling by intimidation and fear.
JE: I guess it depends on who they’re dealing with, if they’re dealing with people outside the organization or inside. If you can imagine some guy in the organization has failed to turn in money he’s made, that’s going to lead to disorder, a mob war, and death. He’s done something wrong. Justice has to be dealt, and Sam would be called in for that sort of assignment. The judge who refuses to release a prisoner despite having accepted the bribe, he’s got to be taken care of. He didn’t play by the rules. It wasn’t fair.
I’m defending the mob! [laughs] That’s not what I had hoped to spend my day doing, but I’m trying to get Sam’s point of view on it. I do get the feeling that Sam rationalizes it, so I’m trying to get my own line on how he rationalizes it. It helps to understand the character.
AE: It’s a tricky thing, and it’s tricky for the audience too. We all know about the Sopranos and how ruthless they could be, but people followed them and cared about these people who were doing these horrible things.
JE: And of course, you walk the line of, "Oh, does that mean we have an evil gay character?" Or are we doing a good thing because there’s a gay character who is tough and he’s not, you know, designing the interiors of fine restaurants.