While 13 Reasons Why is a series that largely focuses on how Hannah Baker's friends are coping after her death, some of the series' most emotional moments comes from the scenes involving her parents. Although Hannah's parents are preoccupied with financial woes prior to Hannah's death, their only child is a joy to them, and when she dies they're utterly distraught.
The roles of Andy and Olivia Baker were obviously no easy characters to portray, but actors Brian d'Arcy James and Kate Walsh both put on performances of a lifetime. Now, in an interview with EW, the two have spoken a little on how delicately and carefully they approached the roles, and how they managed to be true to the characters and their experience.
Speaking on how he formed the character of Andy Baker, Brian d'Arcy James talked about the importance of researching and learning from those directly affected by suicide:
"Tragically there are many people for whom it’s not only unimaginable, but it is their story. So first and foremost you want to honor that and be true to what you’ve learned, the research you’ve done, and the goals that you have for your character to represent this tragic thing."
Although it was crucial to show how suicide went on to affect families, actor Kate Walsh also talked about how essential it was that 13 Reasons Why showed the normalcy of the Bakers' life before Hannah's suicide. This was particularly key to relaying the notion that many people simply don't realize the struggles that their loved ones might be facing until it's too late. Walsh said:
"That’s a very common thing in families. It was really important for them to show that the Bakers are basically a regular family and they had regular issues that people go through. They were doing what they thought was the best that they could. So it can be missed."
But while the pair had their work cut out for them in playing the roles of Hannah's grieving parents, they both recall that one the hardest scene of the entire series to film was the one in which they find Hannah's body. Walsh explained:
"It was one of the last scenes we shot, and everybody who signed on to do this show, from the studio to producers to the cast and the crew, every single person, all the writers, were hugely sensitive and cared deeply about this piece and about the subject matter."
While d'Arcy James also commented:
"We were keenly aware of what the scene was and what it represented. There was a somber quality of just quietly getting the job done, ever efficiently and with great respect."
And, although 13 Reasons Why may be a controversial show, ultimately Walsh is hopeful that the show's legacy will start a much-needed conversation around mental health, as series creator Brian Yorkey hoped:
"Brian really wanted this to be not an insulated high school show. It was really about the broader effects of depression and sexual assault and all of these things that are happening in high school in the community, and to actually have a dialogue between parents and kids, and teachers and kids, and have real language around [suicide]."
13 Reasons Why is available to stream on Netflix now.
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(Source: Entertainment Weekly)