HomeNewsCristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper on How ‘The Resort’ Became TV’s...

Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper on How ‘The Resort’ Became TV’s Trippiest New Series

TikTok has found The Resort. Pairing stills of Cristin Milioti and William Jackson Harper with “Creepy Music Theme #2,” viral videos make the fantastical (and, worth noting, entirely fictional) Peacock series look like a real true-crime event.

Though it’s a little twisted, Milioti agrees that this is the perfect way to market the series. Popular TikTok accounts have made hobbies out of showcasing real-life disappearances from cruises, all-inclusive resorts, and other far-off getaways—a perfect tie-in to the mysterious plot of The Resort. “I didn’t know that at all,” Milioti says, making a mental note to search her show on the app later. “I love that.”

That’s the benefit of having a mind-boggling, existential, genre-warping TV series. When anything’s up for interpretation, people will interpret it. They’ll compare it to real life, like the flurries of fans are doing on TikTok. But they’ll also share theories on Reddit, tweet about the creepiest scenes, and ponder over existential crises together.

Harper and Milioti, who hopped on a Zoom with The Daily Beast’s Obsessed to discuss their ongoing series, are no strangers to all-over-the-place, bonkers genre series like The Resort. While Harper rose to fame starring alongside Kristen Bell in The Good Place, Milioti worked with The Resort creator Andy Siara on the Groundhog Day-styled rom-com Palm Springs.

In a show of confidence in the series’ potential widespread appeal—and also its delightful weirdness—NBC will air the pilot episode on Thursday after America’s Got Talent (its most-watched summer series going on 16 years), with the hopes that fans who sampled it will head to Peacock to stream the rest.

“I like being a part of something where I have my theory on what happened and how it all went, what the rules of those worlds are, and someone else has a completely different interpretation,” Harper says. “You wind up in territory where, since there’s less of an outline we’re familiar with, there’s a lot less room for people watching and saying what you should’ve done. They’re just along for the ride. The ground underneath them is shifting as well.”

The ground does plenty of shifting in The Resort—both literally and figuratively—while Emma (Milioti) and Noah (Harper) try to solve a decades-old mystery case in the Mayan Riviera. Two teenagers disappeared in 2007, and when Emma finds one of their phones, she decides to use the opportunity to revitalize her marriage with Noah while also saving the day. The series also flashes back to those fateful moments leading up to the disappearance, introducing us to plucky young couple Sam and Violet (Skyler Gisondo and Nina Bloomgarden).

There’s a bit of rom-com to The Resort (perhaps in the Modern Romance way, falling out of love, rather than in it), meshed with adventure, thriller, and psychological drama. As Emma and Noah get older, their relationship and ambition dwindles. Vacations aren’t relaxing anymore. They’re tiresome, but being home is worse, because domestic life is drab.

“I’m drawn to things that can’t quite be put in one category,” Milioti says, realizing she’s in existential crises in a good handful of her recent roles: in Palm Springs, she’s stuck in a time loop, and in Made For Love, she’s trapped inside an evil billionaire’s fake world. “Of course, I love to skip around in an existential soup. I feel like that’s what we’re always doing. Now more than ever, since we’ve all gone through this collective experience as a species in the last couple years.”

Plus, oddball series like The Resort can be more fun when the fans start to chime in. (Remember all the theories bubbling around Severance when it premiered earlier this year?) While Harper and Milioti aren’t too tapped into the social media buzz, the latter says she recalls gushing over a Palm Springs fan theory with Siara back when it dropped on Hulu in 2020. It has something to do with June Squibb’s Nana character. Milioti can’t quite remember.

“There’s something that’s ringing a bell deep in my brain through layers and layers of Real Housewives clips, whatever takes up space up there,” she says. “[Andy] told me there was some crazy theory—something where she was me or something? That she had [time] traveled?”

With the penultimate episode of The Resort premiering on Peacock this week and the finale right around the corner, fans will be speculating about the magical meaning behind the Oceana Vista. It’s hard to predict what’s going to happen in the final beats of the show, perhaps because The Resort is truly like nothing else that’s ever aired before.

Milioti equates the series to Force Majeure with “a touch of amber from Jurassic Park in it.” There’s a romantic tooth-pulling scene in this week’s episode evocative of The Americans—Milioti, an Americans obsessive, pulls up her phone to watch the clip after I mention it—but it’s not as dark as a textured drama. There’s still a bit of Palm Springs bounce lingering from Siara, who certainly has a knack for genre-bending.

There’s no true comparison, according to Harper. He didn’t watch anything to prepare. Nothing could size up to the peculiarity of The Resort. This is a lot like his character, Noah, too: intrigued by the situation, but not inclined enough to actually change his daily routine for anything.

“Honestly, reading it, I was like, ‘I’m not sure: Is it a comedy, but is it a comedy? It’s a mystery, but is it? It’s a relationship drama, or maybe not.’ The fact that it’s just to the left of so many different things, I kind of went in blind, if I’m being honest,” he says. “This is one where the best path forward is to just play it as it lays. Be a dude. Let the weird happen around you.”

Though the last few episodes of The Resort force the characters to trek into the jungle, one of the best aspects of the show is the titular resort. The resort is a character in and of itself. Half the time, it’s glamorous, filled with swanky guests dripping in sea water and strawberry daiquiris. In the other timeline, the resort is rundown after being hit by a massive hurricane.

“Seeing it before we got in there and started shooting, in its former glory—then, a week later, [the set designers] having worked on it and completely put that giant tree through the window? Truly, it was incredible,” Milioti recalls. “It was like being inside of a video game.”

Both Milioti and Harper say they’ve never seen anything like it, that it was the “craziest” set design they’ve ever worked on. Dead plants and iguanas strewn across the creaky floors. Busted up windows. Murals with cracked paint. Shattered Christmas ornaments everywhere. Part of the realness comes from the fact that the team shot at the abandoned Ritz Carlton, San Juan in Puerto Rico, which was destroyed in 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

“It was also one of those things where everywhere you turn, it was all destroyed. You went down a hallway, that hallway was destroyed. You open up a room door, that room was destroyed,” Harper says. “As an actor, it’s a lot of fun to feel like, ‘Wow, I’m just really in a busted place. Anything I do is fair game here, because the field is so big that you can play in it.’ As opposed to: ‘Make sure you don’t touch that shelf, because that shelf is not real!’”

Before they sign off, Harper’s dog, Chico, begins to bark at his doorbell. Milioti signals that her dog, Rupert, recognizes the bark and looks around. Their dogs know one another. In fact, they’re good pals. It’s a small detail, but in the ocean of fantasy elements in The Resort, it’s nice to stay grounded in the realism of it all—the abandoned resort, the true crime element, and the relationship between these two and their dogs.








0/5 (0 Reviews)

Most Popular

Recent Comments