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Ben Stiller Uses His Kids as a ‘Focus Group’ for ‘Severance’ Storylines

Stiller joked it's an "ongoing debate" whether or not his family wants to know behind-the-scenes details for the Emmy-nominated series.

Ben Stiller, Severance premiere

Ben Stiller

FilmMagic/Getty

Ben Stiller is making his family dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge any spoilers about “Severance” Season 2.

The director and executive producer of the Emmy-nominated AppleTV+ series revealed to People magazine that he asks kids Ella, 20, and Quinlin, 17, to be a “focus group” for “Severance” plotlines…but his family would much rather Stiller undergo a Lumon severed procedure to keep his work and home life separate and avoid any Season 2 spoilers.

“My kids were sort of the first test screening for me in terms of when I was editing episodes,” Stiller shared. “I would show them and they started to get into it. I showed them at different times, but it was fun to have them as kind of a focus group to see what they reacted to.”

Yet as Stiller works on Season 2, his kids don’t want any spoilers.

“We have this ongoing debate about spoilers because I’m working now on the scripts and prepping the show,” the “Dodgeball” star said. “And I will want to ask them questions and they’re like, ‘Well, don’t tell us.’ Do you want to know or not? So it’s like an ongoing debate.”

Stiller continued, “I don’t know what’s going to happen because then my son’s like, ‘Well, there’s going to be dailies that are going to come in and we’re going to hear about you’re going on location to a certain place and we’re going to ask questions,’ so I think they both want to know and don’t want to know. So we’re trying to figure it out. We have to all figure it out together.”

“Severance” follows Mark (Adam Scott), a cog employee who opted for an experimental procedure to have an alternate work self. Yet as his boss (Patricia Arquette) becomes more involved in both his personal and professional lives, Mark starts to wonder if he made the right decision.

Showrunner Dan Erickson exclusively told IndieWire that director Stiller was “fiercely protective” of the pilot Erickson penned. “I feel like from our first conversation, he had it in his head that there’s something special here, and he knows at this point in his career that he has the clout to protect something like that and make sure it doesn’t get watered down, make sure it doesn’t — in the translation to the screen — start to feel more like something we’ve seen before,” Erickson explained.

The AppleTV+ series garnered 14 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Drama Series, Directing for Stiller, Actor for Adam Scott, and Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette.

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