19 “Mare Of Easttown” Behind-The-Scenes Facts Every Fan Needs To Know
Here's what went into the making of the show.
The finale of the hit miniseries
aired this Sunday, bringing a Mare of Easttown jaw-dropping and satisfactory end to this HBO crime drama.
The show is a murder mystery set in a quiet, sleepy town that is tranquil on the surface but bubbling underneath. The town witnesses adultery, drug abuse, prostitution, stalkers, kidnappings, and, of course, murder, which puts the spotlight on our protagonist, Detective Sgt. Marianne Sheehan, aka Lady Hawk, aka Mare.
Academy Award winner and acting juggernaut
Kate Winslet features in the titular role as a gloomy, stoic, wisecracking, emotionally reclusive, divorced, middle-aged cop mom who is also a grandma to a 4-year-old boy.
Sarah Shatz / HBO
The show follows Mare as she tries to solve the murder of a young single mother and the possibly related disappearances of two other young girls.
Supporting her in the investigations is Detective Colin Zabel (
Evan Peters) while Mare jumps through hoops to prevent her personal life from falling apart.
Sarah Shatz / HBO
In addition to being a murder mystery, the show is a profound family drama
. It is these qualities that have led many to compare Mare of Easttown to other TV series like Broadchurch, Happy Valley, and Top of the Lake.
Let's dive into what went into the making of the show.
There is a real Easttown.
But most of the show was not actually shot in Easttown.
Except for a few scenes, the show was shot in nearby Coatesville, Aston, and Drexel Hill. According to screenwriter Brad Ingelsby, "
We did shoot some of the show in Easttown, [but] the Easttown in the show is really an amalgam of some of the towns in the area." He tried to capture the blue-collar vibe that permeates the neighboring towns of the real Easttown. The other real-life locations where shooting was done, according to Ingelsby, are "the VFW bar in Sellersville, Girard College, Wissahickon Valley Park, and Pastorius Park in Chestnut Hill."
The actual Easttown police helped Ingelsby enhance the show's verisimilitude.
David Obzud, chief of the Easttown Police Department, was an adviser on the set. Ingelsby wanted the show to look authentic and hence contacted Obzud. In
Obzud's own words, "They reached out to us, and Brad Ingelsby asked to come in. He came in and asked would I mind looking at the script. He had a lot of interest in procedures. 'What about this? Is this what you do? What would you do with this?' He just wanted to learn. He wanted to get everything right." Well, given the show's success, he did get it right.
The show marks Winslet's first time as an executive producer.
This is the first time Winslet has found herself in the role of executive producer. She was totally fascinated by the script and kept reading it all through the night. Winslet
joined the cast about 48 hours later. She even lived for a month in the area where the series is set to “ get a sense of the place.”
The show's creator grew up there. (Well, almost there!)
Margo Moritz / Via
Ingelsby, who is also the show's creator, didn't grow up in Easttown, but he was raised in the nearby Chester County town of
Berwyn. Although the character of Mare isn't based on anyone in particular, Ingelsby drew on his experiences growing up to add characters to the show. For example, his great uncle, a priest, was a regular visitor to the family home and used to drink Manhattan cocktails — " as Father Dan Hastings does with Mare’s mother, Helen." Ingelsby was also the Easttown Library’s 2020 Barbara Robinson Author Visit speaker.
This is the second time that Winslet has appeared in a TV series.
The first time Winslet appeared in a TV series was in 2011, when she appeared in HBO's miniseries
Mildred Pierce. Stephen King reviewed it (he liked it; just didn't like the length).
The show was influenced by
Broadchurch...and other series.
ITV / Via
Mare of Easttown debuted, the one show it has been consistently and positively compared to is ITV's Broadchurch. That series also follows two cops, played by Olivia Colman and David Tennant, as they try to solve a murder in a seaside town in Dorset, England. Ingelsby confirmed that influence and also mentioned The Killing, True Detective, Breaking Away, and Boogie Nights as inspirations for the series.
There's a lot of local food product placement.
Evan Peters was shooting
at the same time. WandaVision
Peters was shooting simultaneously for another big project,
WandaVision. He would travel to Atlanta for WandaVision and then to Philly for Mare of Easttown. He explained, "They started shooting simultaneously and then the pandemic hit, and they naturally broke simultaneously, and then they picked back up simultaneously, which I couldn’t believe." He watched The First 48 to prepare for his role as Colin.
Winslet hid in the trunk of a car during an intimate scene.
As the show's executive producer, Winslet always made sure that everyone was comfortable. There's a scene in Episode 4 that happens in a car where Mare's daughter, Siobhan (
Angourie Rice), shares an intimate moment with her girlfriend. Because the scene didn't have any nudity, an intimacy coordinator was not involved, but Winslet sensed that Rice was uncomfortable. Winslet described the experience: “I ended up being in the boot of the car. I knew it would make them feel better to have that one person who would be able to put their hand up and say, ‘Actually, we need to cut now; is everyone feeling OK?’”
This was the first time Winslet had held a gun.
The character of Mare is unlike any of Winslet's previous roles, and none of her previous roles required wielding a gun. Winslet told
EW, "You know what was even more shocking than the fact that I'd never held a gun was how shocked everyone was that I'd never held a gun." Well, the only time she held a gun, she put it to good use.
Winslet aced the Delco accent.
Once the first episode aired, what got attention from many viewers and reviewers was Winslet's command of the "Delco" (Delaware County) accent. Winslet confessed,
“It is absolutely up there amongst the top two hardest dialects I’ve ever done.” To ace the accent, Winslet trained with dialect coach Susan Hegarty. Her grasp of the accent stood out so much that Saturday Night Live parodied the show in the the skit " Murdur Durdur," in which Kate McKinnon stands in for Winslet.
Winslet's hair was deliberately done badly.
This is only the second time Winslet and Guy Pearce have worked together.
Winslet's first foray into the world of TV shows,
Mildred Pierce, was also the first time she got a chance to work with childhood crush Guy Pearce, who played her love interest, Richard, in Mare of Easttown. Winslet, who said that she was "completely obsessed with him" as a kid, explained, "It was that bad, and so when I did work with Guy in 2010 on , I had to come clean about all of this. I had to say, 'Look, I've been in love with you since I was 11. And we share the same birthday, which I've also known since I was 11 years old.'" For Mildred Pierce Mare of Easttown, she phoned Pearce to tell him about the character she wanted him to play — and Pearce was in.
On the set, it was testing, testing, and more testing.
Shooting for the series was shut down on March 13, 2020, and resumed in mid-September. Because the show was shot amid a raging pandemic, the cast and crew had to be super cautious. According to director Craig Zobel, they "
had 10,000 tests over the course of the shoot." The props master described working on the sets as " walking through mud," and the rigorous protocols and arduous task of sanitizing the props and locations took an emotional toll on her.
Thanks to the quarantine, Winslet and Pearce got to celebrate their birthdays together.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Winslet and Pearce were in quarantine together on their shared birthday, Oct. 5. Winslet
detailed what happened that day: "On our joint birthday, I woke up, I opened my bedroom door to go to work, and there was a gift and a card from my childhood sweetheart outside my door. And then of course I did the same thing for Guy. So it's very sweet, and kind of tinged with a little bit of romance that I quite like, and it was absolutely lovely."
One of the cast members died while the shooting was suspended.
Phyllis Somerville, best known for her roles in
The Big C and Little Children, died at her home in New York City on July 16 while the show's production was on hold. She didn't die of COVID-19 but of natural causes. She played the role of Betty Carroll, who calls Mare in the very first scene of the first episode to investigate some voyeurism.
And finally, there is a real "Mare"!
Although the character of Mare is fictitious, Winslet based her role on a real-life police detective.
Christine Bleiler, a Chester County detective, was Winslet's inspiration for Mare Sheehan. Winslet described her as her “ go-to person” for most of her cop-related mannerisms. She further revealed, “I would honestly call her at 5 in the morning and I’d say, ‘Christine, I’m so sorry. Are you awake?’ ‘Well, I am now.’ I would say, ‘There’s a line I have today. It’s about cellphone records in the case, and I’m just not sure…,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh, no, you wouldn’t say it like that. No, no, no, it’s messier; make it more like this.’ TV and Movies
Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.