‘Avenue 5’: Kyle Bornheimer on Doug’s Weird ‘Reprieve’ From Madness
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Avenue 5 Season 2 Episode 4, “How It Ends: As a Starter and a Main.”]
Life of Avenue 5 it gets even more chaotic in the final episode.
Let’s just put it this way: At the end of it, Ryan (Hugh Laurie) casually informs the passengers of the latest mishaps, including that they accidentally picked up a cannibal and that they don’t have enough rations for everyone for the eight years they’ll be in space. And this comes after a lockdown was initiated to capture the aforementioned cannibal. During all of this, Doug (Kyle Bornheimer) was stranded when his leg got stuck when a door closed as part of that lockdown.
Bornheimer discusses this little break for Doug and teases what’s to come.
Doug seems to get a bit of a reprieve from everything by jamming his foot in the door and getting some pain relief. With everything going on, not only with the ship, but with Mia (Jessica St. Clair), the pregnancy, and who the father is, how much did he need this break from it all?
Kyle Bornheimer: It’s so funny that you put it that way. At some point, we were kind of into the irony of Doug and Mia’s journey between seasons and how, when we meet them—and that was really the hook that Jessica and I loved about those roles—they’re a couple who’s so excited they’re getting divorced and after that stay together in space. [They’re] terrible couple in season 1, and then we meet them in season 2 and this baby, which may not even be Doug’s, has brought them together and they’re suddenly kind of the opposite of who they were. But Doug is still so busy, so much his own worst enemy, so much stuff always going on, usually because of his own flawed character, that it’s ironic that he needs a sort of horrific injury, like you said, kind of a reprieve from the other craziness he usually gets himself into.
Obviously, Armando [Iannucci] is amazing, and these writers are amazing with irony and twists like that, but I’ve never played a character who needs this in his life, this horrific leg injury, this gateway to – as you said – getting a reprieve from the madness , which takes place in this ship.
Doug and Mia just can’t seem to get away from each other. Things happen, they break up and then they end up back together again.
The first season was really about what was wrong with them and why they so obviously needed to get divorced. And as the story progressed, it was like, wait, maybe they’re weirdly perfect for each other, and maybe there’s something about them that matches in some weird way to make them kind of perfect. But it was certainly a pleasant surprise that we were going to go in that direction with them.
Speaking of Mia and the pregnancy, how does Doug feel about it and her at this point?
There’s love and now there’s a child, and I think in some ways you could say that’s the other thing that Doug really needed was another person. Apparently having a child is one of the three or four things in this life that can really change you or bring out the best in you or bring out something in you that is necessary for [take] responsibility. Doug can’t worry so much about his pettiness because he has this thing. So I think when we see him, he’s taken on that glow that happens, I think, of a newfound love in your life, a newfound spirit of, oh, I’ve got to take care of something. It happens to asses, it happens to nice people, it happens to mediocre people, it happens to great people.
It is very rare that you find out that you have a child without doing anything to you. So I think giving this thing to Doug really resets it and we’re going to see a new side of him come out. It may now retreat back to pure Dugness at some point. But I think when we meet him, he’s kind of taken on like, “I’m going to be a father,” and “here’s all the stuff I’m going to do as a father.” And then at the core, I think, the hilarity is that there’s a very good chance it’s not even his child.
The Doug-Mads (Adam Paulson) dynamic is so funny.
It really is. It’s something we giggle about all the time. The way Mads made his way [into this], and Adam Paulson, just a fantastic actor. We’re all such fans of Adam and what he brought to this role, which was that he did something with a small role where he just kept making it so undeniably funny that it just grew and grew. Armando and the writers are so good at spotting that, and that’s why they’ve brought Mads into this cast of characters so beautifully. It was something that we just kept making up as we went along.
Now Mads is in this love triangle here and what does that mean for Doug? All Doug wants to focus on is the child. Is Doug in denial about whether or not this is his child, or does he really not know? Doesn’t he want to know? You’re stuck with these people literally in this ship, so you have to manage, so the kinds of alliances you make and the kind of compromises you make because you know you’re stuck there, I think they dance with each other constantly in this transmission.
Episode 4 ends with Ryan accidentally telling the passengers about all the problems they’re facing, and chaos and panic ensue. How will everyone handle this in the next episode?
What Season 2 ended up doing—without giving away any spoilers, because I think you’re starting to see it already—is that some characters will act exactly as you think they might. Some characters will be forced into a new situation for which they will have to have a new solution that they never thought of or find something new in themselves that was never asked of them. And because different relationships have formed and different dynamics have been forced upon all these characters, the way they come to decisions and the way the worst in them and in some cases even in this satirical show comes out the best in them , is really what I think season 2 did really well too.
We kind of set the table with the basic personality colors of these characters in the first season, and now we’re seeing some shadings, we’re seeing some duplications on them. Zach Woods’ character is a perfect example of that, of where he also starts to develop or starts to reveal his true self. That’s what happens in these crisis situations, right? Either you reveal your true self, or you find the self you didn’t know was there, or you just maintain who you are. And those three things, I think, are what the show sets these characters on a course to travel through.
How do Doug and Mia handle things as her due date approaches? She will have to give birth in the midst of this madness.
I loved that Doug was trying to keep things as normal as possible, like they were having this baby under normal circumstances. I think you can see it in the way he dresses. He is trying to maintain a modicum of normality amidst this complete breakdown of civilization. And I think one of the reasons he does it is to pad and soften the idea that they’re going to have a baby in deep space. And so I think his attempt to come to terms with the reality of what he and Mia are facing lends itself to some mishaps.
What can you tease about childbirth? Will we see him this season?
The way Armando works great is as an actor, and when we’re discovering the story as we’re shooting it, sometimes you’ll have an idea of where things are going, and sometimes it’ll continue, but the way you get there will be circuitous. It will change another time. And what we had planned and what it became, I think, was sort of marrying the scheme and then finding ways to do it as we went along. So I don’t know what I can tease other than it’s crazy what’s going on. It never stops. Once we get close to that date, things will spiral.
What can you tease for the end of the season?
Armando really, especially in Season 2, doubles down on the satire and coverage of what’s going on in society right now with the rise of cultism in politics, the rise of misinformation, how quickly misinformation spreads, kind of collapsing our institutions. We noticed around the middle of Season 1 that we were in for more social satire than we thought. And Season 2 really doubles down on that while still being able to enjoy the show without even knowing it. But once you inevitably tap into it, I think it becomes an even richer experience. So I think as that went on, the balance of social commentary with the comedic exploration of human frailty, I think, was even magnified and multiplied this season.
Avenue 5Monday, 10/9c, HBO