Anatomy of an Emmy-Worthy Scene: Search Party's John Early, Directors Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss Talk Elliott's Fiery Talk Show Cameo

In Search Party‘s sixth episode of Season 3, John Early‘s Elliott Goss is blindsided by conservative pundit Charlie Reeny on live television after he agrees to appear to discuss his friends’ murder trial. Below, Early — one of TVLine’s Dream Emmy Nominees — and series co-creators/directors Charles Rogers and Sarah-Violet Bliss take us behind the scenes of that incendiary (yet hilarious) war of words.

CHARLES ROGERS | We liked the idea that Charlie was a match for Elliott, and because he’s such a strong character with so much conviction, it was fun to see the rug being pulled out from under him.

JOHN EARLY | Earlier that year I tweeted, “I’m ready to play Milo Yiannopoulos in a searing HBO original TV-movie,” like in the grand scheme of Game Change with Julianne Moore. I was like, “This is my People’s Choice Award-winning role!” [Laughs] Then, Sarah-Violet and Charles immediately texted me and were like, “We’re writing a long arc of you descending into alt-right contrarian-pundit-Milo stuff.” When I read the scene, I was excited to see the seeds being planted.

ROGERS | The look John gives after [the line], “That’s not my book,” was such a pure John moment. It was hard for us to imagine exactly what it would look like for Elliott to feel in over his head, but John found a very funny vibe for that. Elliott’s bug eyes are something you don’t always see!

EARLY | I didn’t know how I was going to play that, but it was so fun to not just play a moment of embarrassment, but to do it where it’s actually on live TV. When he realizes he can give in to the theatrics of cable news and go for the jugular, I remember them telling me to make sure there’s a clear visual moment of that turn. That’s my favorite part of the scene, honestly. It was the only subtle moment I’ve ever had on the entire show. [Laughs] The moments where I’m not completely clowning or screaming are really few and far between, so it was nice to see a moment where his wheels are turning.

SARAH-VIOLET BLISS | I love when he turns the tables and says, “I’m sorry, did you just fart?” [John] took liberty with that, which was great. When they started their screaming match, it was so fun to hear them really go for it and not feel inhibited.

EARLY | These characters are pure id. They like to think they’re in control of the way they’re appearing on TV, but their deeply opportunistic ugly selves just erupt immediately from underneath a pound of foundation. Also, it’s one of my favorite looks of Elliott’s. I so rarely understand what’s going on with Elliott’s costume, which is part of the genius of it and it helps me as an actor, but I felt cute! Normally as Elliott, I feel like a big lazy baby just rolling around on the set, sucking my thumb.

Search Party Seasons 1-4 are available to stream on HBO Max.