BrainDead Winstead Weirdest

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: BrainDead Features 'Weirdest Scene' of My Career

For the stars of BrainDead (airing Mondays at 10/9c), the reasons for signing onto CBS’ new summertime folly pretty much fall into two columns. But little did they suspect that they would also get pulled into perhaps the most bizarre scenes of their careers.

To recap the comedic-thriller’s premise: alien bugs are creeping into the brains of Washington, D.C. power players, steering their personalities into strange directions. Among the early victims is Republican senator Red Wheatus, played by Tony Shalhoub,BrainDead who was delighted to work for creators Robert and Michelle King after being (unsuccessfully) courted to guest on The Good Wife.

“A number of times I had phone conversations with Robert and Michelle and for certain various reasons it just didn’t happen, so I was relieved that this came along,” says the three-time Emmy winner, who infused his fictional politico with the “smugness” of Ted Cruz, a bit of Ron Paul and Donald Trump’s “fearless” usage of words. “Actors always talk and share war stories, and friends of mine who worked for them always spoke so highly of [the Kings] and the working atmosphere on [The Good Wife]. They are so smart and so open-minded and open to our input.”

That said, many of the cast who chased the Kings’ prestigious pedigree were not prepared for their far-out, science-fiction-y take on today’s political climate.

“At the time I got the pilot script, I had already been, like everyone else, steeped in this particular election cycle that seems to have started in the Jurassic Period and feels like it’s never going to end,” says Shalhoub. “I started to be obsessed with the whole circus of it all, so this was a refreshing, comedic spin on what’s going on out there. Although sometimes I’m not sure which is the fiction which is the reality!”

“I was pretty stunned by it, just in terms of what a shift it was for the Kings and for CBS,” says Mary Elizabeth Winstead, whose Laurel begrudgingly goes to work for her brother Luke (played by Danny Pino), a Democratic senator. “It was such an adventurous idea for everyone involved, it was risky in an exciting way, and it seemed like it’d be a lot of fun! I had no idea of it would entirely work, because it seemed so experimental in so many ways, a mishmash of genres.”

Graceland alum Aaron Tveit, who plays Senator Wheatus’ legislative director Gareth, concurs, saying: “As a follow-up for the Kings, I thought it was a spectacularly different thing.”

But just how “different” will things get?

While Tveit teases some “very interesting scenes with food that was placed in kind of a different circumstance than you would imagine,” Winstead — who, mind you, counts Final Destination 3, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Death Proof, Scott Pilgrim and this spring’s 10 Cloverfield Lane among her credits — declares, “We have done maybe the weirdest scene I have ever done, which is saying a lot. People are always asking me what’s the weirdest thing I’ve done, and now I’ve got the answer!”

Driving that point home, Tveit adds, “The show is nuts. It’s really nuts.”

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  1. dan says:

    I hope episode two is better than the premiere, otherwise I’m out. Not going to stick around like I did for Under the Dome hoping it gets better. I thought the premiere was different for network tv (especially CBS) and I like the cast, but it wasn’t funny or engaging…just quirky and odd. I’ll decide after tonight’s episode if quirky and odd are enough to keep watching.

    • wrstlgirl says:

      I’m kind of the same. I did enjoy the premiere but that time slot has two other shows that I like to watch also so I’m gonna watch again tonight and then decide if I think it’s worth the hassle.

    • Jeri says:

      Watched 1 & 2 last night and I am hooked. Great show.

  2. HAP says:

    I’m kind of on the fence myself. I’d rather watch Major Crimes in that time slot, and I’ll give Braindead another shot on demand. Hope it gets better.

  3. Josh says:

    It’s kind of weird and needs to find its tone, but it could be a fun light summer show. I love Mary Elizabeth Winstead and her cool layered bob.

  4. MarjG says:

    May be nuts, but also deft and fun. Cast brilliant. I’d been feeling anything but humored this election until Braindead. A must see!

  5. Mollymoo says:

    Eh, didn’t really do anything do anything for me. It was quirky to the point of being uncomfortably weird.

  6. Hannah says:

    Wasn’t impressed with the pilot, but my love for Aaron Tveit is strong enough to carry me through the season if it stays the same.

  7. Pat says:

    I am still going to hang in there. It is a good summer show to watch. I DVR it because Major Crimes is my #1 favorite for that time slot. Yes, Brain Dead is nuts, but hey just look at what is going on real time with a certain Presidential Candidate, hint—the color orange!

  8. ndixit says:

    I think the show needs to embrace the comedy side more than the drama. Because the drama part is hard to take seriously, given the premise.

    • Sarah says:

      Probably because it isn’t drama, it’s satire. It’s more of an intelligent, subtle British-style deadpan humor than your typical American in-your-face comedy. I think the problem is that too much of the audience doesn’t get that.

  9. captfbgnet says:

    I like the show. It has satire blended with dark humor on the shenanigans currently going in Washingtion. With tongue-in-cheek amusement, I’ve had a chuckle or two.

  10. Mayi Vega says:

    I watched because I’m a Danny Pino fan. I think he is doing an excellent job as well as Elizabeth Weinstead . I enjoy the drama and the dark comedy and the plot but I hate the bugs and the blood! I find myself covering my eyes and having nightmares about insects in my ears! I know I’m a “wooz” but it does bring me back to the next episode to see what happens …

  11. asdafasdf says:

    of course the Democrats are the heroes and the Conservatives are the idiots. Can’t expect anything else from Hollywierd morons.

  12. Sis2 says:

    Tony Shalhoub should win an Emmy for his performance on on this creative show. I laugh and cringe the whole watching it.

  13. Julia says: this show!! The re-cap song at the beginning is engaging and there are so many interesting plots going on at the same time – it really gets you hooked!! The cast is wow!! Great acting..was more excited to see Tony Shalhoub..whoop whoop! Keep it up CBS and I’ll keep watching!! Can’t wait for next Sunday!!

  14. captfbgnet says:

    Great show with great acting. Notice how Mary (Laurel) ‘acts’ with her eyes and facial expressions? Hope Sunday night also is better slot for the show.