[Editor’s Note: The following story contains spoilers for FX and Hulu’s “Fleishman Is in Trouble.”]
Claire Danes tapped into a primal moment from her 20s to bring up that soul-shattering scream in Episode 7 of FX and Hulu’s “Fleishman Is in Trouble.”
The limited series, adapted by Taffy Brodesser-Akner from her own novel, just wrapped its eight-episode run this week. But TV Twitter was a-chatter last week when, with Episode 7, Brodesser-Akner and team flipped the script on what had previously been a series primarily about Toby Fleishman’s (Jesse Eisenberg) freefall amid the divorce from and disappearance of his wife Rachel (Danes).
Danes was largely absent from Episodes 1 through 6 save for flashbacks to her early courtship with Dr. Toby Fleishman and the ensuing moments of bitterness and rancor that torched their tony New York marriage. But in Episode 7, it’s revealed that Rachel, a seemingly steely agent whom we thought was merely fleeing her husband and children, actually suffered a nervous breakdown related to trauma from her first pregnancy.
After being found on a park bench in sweats holding a bagel, a now spinning-out Rachel recounts the events that led to her disappearance to series narrator Libby (Lizzy Caplan). This included a now-viral moment at a yoga retreat with her post-breakup fling, Sam Rothberg (Josh Stamberg). There, she’s asked by a masseur to let out a primal, cathartic scream channeling all her rage.
The two-time “Homeland” Emmy winner is no stranger to playing women with debilitating mental illness, as that Showtime series evidenced. And as Danes recently told The Hollywood Reporter, she tapped into a “bizarre” encounter in her 20s to deliver that barbaric “Fleishman” yawp.
“I remember one time when I was in my early 20s — this is a bizarre story — but I was playing some parlor game at Gaby Hoffmann’s house, she’s a dear friend, and one of her college friends was being kind of annoying. He was just being disruptive for the sake of it,” Danes said. “And something happened where I just stared at him and screamed. I didn’t protest. It was just this animalistic scream. And once it was happening, I was like, ‘Oh, I think I just have to commit to this.’ It was bizarre; it was so inappropriate and I don’t know why that happened, but it did. I think it probably helped me with this because I amazingly had a reference point for it.
“The scream I really enjoyed. The scream I didn’t have much anxiety about because when do you get to do that? That’s like, not a thing,” Danes added. “That’s not one of those scenes you’re going to compare to another version. I just love the baldness of it. I love how it’s set up, too. That she’s completely resistant; she’s kind of giggling nervously. She’s working real hard to evade and avoid it. And then it allows for this kind of insane catharsis.”
Danes is now nominated for Supporting Actress honors from the Critics Choice and Golden Globe awards for her performance — and no doubt for this particular episode.