Troppo is a new crime drama and in this exclusive interview the cast and creators talk about the live snakes on set, second chances, and more.
Troppo is one of those crime dramas that will hook you from the very start as you try to piece together hints to discover what actually happened. However, the majority of viewers will be shocked by the big reveal. In this exclusive interview Mama’s Geeky talks with stars Thomas Jane (Ted Conkaffey) and Nicole Chamoun (Amanda Pharrell), as well as Author Candice Fox and Creator/Showrunner Yolanda Ramke, about the live deadly snakes on set, second chances, and the inspiration behind the story.
Where Did You Get The Inspiration For This Story?
Candice Fox: We were having a mini “me too” moment here in Australia, where some celebrities were accused of terrible crimes. And there was a lot of assumption that they had done that before they went to trial, before they were arrested. Just as soon as the rumors came out, people were saying, yeah, he looks like that kind of guy. Whereas it’s like, that’s not really what you should be judging that on. So I was interested in prejudice and how far people will go just based on an inkling or a rumor, hearsay. I was also interested in people who are innocent. And I thought to myself, What is the worst thing you could possibly be accused of? What is the stain that will not rub off? Because the fact is, if you kill your wife, you do time and you get out and they’re still going to serve you at the local grocery store. But if you’re a child sex offender, it’s a lifetime crime. You will never remove that accusation, or that conviction. I’m really interested in that. How that can destroy your life.
How Much Time Did You Spend Together Before Filming?
Thomas Jane: Nicole walked into her Zoom meeting, when I was in Montana making a Western and Nicole was in Australia. From that moment on, we knew we had a show, because that kind of chemistry, you can’t invent. You can’t fake that. And she nailed the character of Amanda and that’s a not an easy target to hit. So we knew we had a show, but then we also knew these people are not the kind of people that are gonna wrap it six o’clock and then go grab dinner together. That would work against what both of us were working really hard to build. I have to tell you, it was a little odd for me. Normally I’m a little more social or giving as a human being when the cameras are not rolling. When they are rolling, of course I give it everything I’ve got, but any interaction off set would have worked against us, I think.
Nicole Chamoun: I agree, but it’s tricky. It’s tricky, because I am social and I was dying to find that connection outside. But I knew instinctively that this was the right way. And that I just needed to trust the process and trust the work. I think it paid off watching. Tt would have been nice, like grab a beer, but that’s not them. It just isn’t. You have to respect that.
How Was Working With Real Venomous Snakes?
Nicole Chamoun: You feel safe because you’re on set and there’s snake handlers, but there was a couple of takes where the King Brown was behind Josh Helman and he pushed the glass open and the snake had started to come out. And I’m like, called cut someone called cut.
Yolanda Ramke: Obviously Australia has many of the world’s most deadly snakes. Which is fun for us. I remember, at one point, we actually had four of the most deadly snakes in the world on the set at once. And they were all in their own individual glass tanks. The guy that was handling them was super professional, and knew exactly what he was doing. But it was so disconcerting to see someone walk in with essentially like a potato sack, and just pulled this snake out of it, and put it in a glass tank. They like to push the lids and every now and then you hear a tap tap. And you’d see one of the lids going up and down. So you’d have to put something heavy on the glass tank to keep them in. Everyone was very much on their toes that day. It was pretty alarming. There’s a shot in Episode Four where the guy milks a snake’s venom. And we did that for real. That was actually on the set. And the poor camera operator at the time, who had to be right in close, is terrified of snakes, and was just completely traumatized by having to be that close to this thing.
What Do You Hope People Take Away From Troppo?
Thomas Jane: The show makes a timely statement on how the media has this awesome power to destroy people. You read about something and somebody will send a tweet or state an opinion on something. And then some other journalist or similar will come in and destroy them and they’ll lose their job, they’ll they’ll lose their life. That does not seem human. That’s not human. I think that one of the things you can take away from the show is just a little glimpse into how that happens. And why maybe it’s not such a good thing. You read about it on your tablet and oh, that guy’s life is destroyed — next.
Nicole Chamoun: Not to judge a book by its cover. So very often we make rash judgments on who people are, based on a very small amount of information. It’s important that we take some time to find out who we are at our core, and not just judge what you see, because often you’re wrong.
Yolanda Ramke: We do go to some fairly emotional, dark territory in the show. The sort of real balancing act was to be trying to inject as much levity and fun in that as we can — particularly in the kind of the dynamic between Ted and Amanda. Ultimately, without getting into spoiler territory, I think it’s that thing of just wanting, trying, to look for the hope. The light in the darkness, and the value of compassion and empathy. Myself, Jane, Ellen, the script producer, in particular, worked really hard to make forgiveness the beacon that we were kind of heading for. I hope that people come away with that feeling.
How Did This Incredible Cast Come About?
Yolanda Ramke: The first person that we brought into the fold was Thomas. And that was a real coup. I was very excited about that. I think Tom has some pretty amazing genre pedigree having made films before like The Mist. He has a versatility in terms of being able to navigate drama and comedy that we wanted for this character. We knew that he’d be a really great anchor for this show. Then it was about casting opposite Tom and finding Amanda, which we knew was going to be the biggest challenge we were going to face. When Nicole Shamoun stepped into the audition room, for me actually, basically the minute the thumbnail of her audition tape showed up in my inbox, I knew. It was the minute I saw her face, I was like that is Amanda, and I just hope to god, this is a good test. And her test was exceptional, and she just got better every time she tested. Then once she and Tom were testing on Zoom together, it was pretty clear that she was Amanda. In terms of the supporting cast, we were incredibly lucky to get David Lyons, who’s just an extraordinary actor. We just we just lucked out on on every front. We were spoiled. really spoiled. The luck is in part due to the state of the world, because actors who had been working overseas so long, were home in Australia and it was easier to get them.
There Are More Books, So Will We Get A Season Two?
Yolanda Ramke: That’s the hope. There are conversations happening, but you know, it’s still early days. So we’ll have to see where we go. But certainly the second book delves a lot more into Ted’s case and Ted’s past. The natural thing would be to kind of follow that trajectory. So fingers crossed, we get a chance to do that.
Candice Fox: All I can say is watch this space. I would be taken out and shot if I say anything about how season two is going, or if season two is going, so I can’t reveal. But at least you have the books. So you can read ahead and get all that satisfaction about what happened to Ted and who is responsible for that.
Full Troppo Interviews
Be sure to check out the full interviews for Troppo so you don’t miss out on other tidbits about this incredible show!
Troppo is the story of Ted Conkaffey, played by Thomas Jane (The Expanse, The Vanished), an ex-cop falsely accused of committing a disturbing crime, who has escaped to hide away in the tropics of Far North Queensland. As he tries to avoid discovery, he’s drawn into investigating a wild murder and a missing person, alongside a complicated woman named Amanda Pharrell (played by Nicole Chamoun), with dark secrets of her own.
Adapted for television by creator Yolanda Ramke, Troppo is based on the book Crimson Lake, the first novel of a gripping contemporary crime series set in Queensland, Australia, and written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox.
Stream Troppo Season 1 on Freevee, the new name for IMDb TV, on May 20.
You Might Also Enjoy...
Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.