***The following interview contains slight spoilers***
AppleTV+ has a new crime series out today! Now & Then
tells the story of five college friends whose lives are forever changed after a night of partying ends in tragedy. Twenty years later, they are reluctantly reunited by a threat that puts their seemingly perfect lives at risk. While the eight episodes center around a mysterious death, the story is really about youthful dreams and the reality of adulthood.
Set in Miami and shot mostly in Spanish, the series stars Rosie Perez (The Flight Attendant
) and Zjelko Ivanek (12 Monkeys
) as the lead detectives on a twenty-year-old case. Now & Then
also features an exciting cast of international stars as the five friends still reeling from the bad decision they made years ago: Marina de Tavira (Roma
), José María Yazpik, Maribel Verdú, Manolo Cardona, and Soledad Villamil. Together, these seven talented actors have dozens of award nominations and wins, far too many to mention here.
Perez and Ivanek are the only two actors who play themselves in both time periods. In 2000, Perez’s detective Flora Neruda is a rookie investigating a car crash with her partner, Ivanek’s older and more jaded John Sullivan. In 2020, that case still haunts Flora until a phone call brings all the players back together.
At a roundtable interview, SciFi Vision spoke with Perez and Ivanek about their characters’ journeys through two timelines, from an uncertain professional partnership to a hard-won, mature friendship. Read the transcript below, but be warned: the conversation contains minor spoilers for the first few episodes, mostly about the characters’ personalities and relationship. Stay tuned for more interviews from the series, and check out the first three episodes, available now on AppleTV+, with new episodes released every Friday.Lightly edited for clarity and lengthSCIFI VISION:
Over the first few episodes, your characters relationship evolves kind of slowly. We see sort of the their initial partnership and then a mature friendship. I wonder if you could tell us a little bit of what we can expect to see over the course of the of the series?
It's a really nice thing, because it's something that you see develop kind of from episode to episode to episode, because you see them first in very much just the professional setting. There they are at the scene of a car accident, and she's just joined the homicide squad. I've always been around longer. There's a kind of implied relationship with the boss and the fledgling, and that changes very, very quickly, because she's the one who actually starts noticing things that don't seem quite right.
Within a very few episodes, she starts to learn more about my family life, what's going on with my wife, and what I'm going home to. These connections start to get made on a very personal level, in addition to what's going on in the work, and you see that bond kind of develop and how they start to play off each other sort of as they get to know each other better as people.
The great thing is, then, twenty years later, you've seen how all of that evolved. I'm retired; my wife is gone. Basically all I have in a sense is this friendship, when all she had at the beginning was this job and this endless search for justice and someplace to put all this passion. At the end of it, I'm kind of the one who's down to one friend that I'm clinging to, one connection to the world, and it's a really nice kind of evolution to get to play through. This show going back and forth in time, I think helps that, because one informs the other back and forth. As you see them later, you start to see different things in the relationship early on as well, and where did that come from? The structure of it really feeds that.
Rosie, Flora is the definition of determined. Is it because she has had this training, and she wants to go by the book, or is it just something she is, flowing through her blood, and she kind of is so focused on that, because this is something she craves as an idealist?
Well, when I was first initially offered this role, I told Gideon Raff and Ramón Campos it wasn't enough for me; I needed a backstory. I needed the reason why she was so obsessive. I said, “What if she didn't have family? What if something terrible happened to her family, an injustice that was never corrected, and so she joined the police department because of that reason.” Gideon was like, “I love it. Let's play with it.” What they came back with was amazing, really amazing, and it helped me just dive right in. Also, I have law enforcement in my family, and I've seen them go through it, as well. They are about justice, about what's right and holding people accountable, and I carried that with me as well.
The tone of this series is so interesting, and we see a really different look and tone in each time line. They're not really flashbacks; they’re telling like two stories with this. Did you do anything special to prepare for either side of that timeline?
Well, for me, outside of the physical appearance twenty years earlier, I worked on the physicality of Flora at twenty years younger and also on her immaturity and her how it played out in her emotional response. She has superior officers. She's getting frustrated with him, [laughs]
and that comes from an immaturity, but it also comes from pain, and how young people deal with pain isn't always the best way. So, all of those things I tried to incorporate into that.
Mr. Ivanek, it's great dichotomy between these two characters of Flora and her new partner on this. Whereas she is very by the book, I think he's kind of over it. He’s just been through it enough that he doesn't need to follow the book as much as she believes she does. Was that something discussed as well? Where they stand in their police procedures?
I think he does want to follow the book. I think he's just done it so long that you kind of know that, “Okay, nine times out of ten it turns out to be this.” And this is the one time where she's going to get it, but this is the tenth time. This time, things are different. And you know, just clear your head and look at it fresh. Because he's totally by the book, but there's just a certain amount of “I've done this enough times that I know how this usually turns out.” And if the freshness of her eyes are looking at something going, “Yeah, but why is that door open? Why is this? Why does everyone keep answering the question in the same way?”, it's that that kind of niggles at the case. It's that that starts to break the case. They don't solve it in that time, but all the leads kind of open up, because of that, because of her kind of fresh look at it. I think that's what he gets from her in the initial sense. Then, watching her after he's retired, how she handles the case later, it's like, “Okay, that's everything I would want to be able to do if I was doing it, and everything I hope I taught you and everything you taught me in the meantime as well.”
Yeah. Also, adding on to your previous question, and this question too, Flora was also driven by the issue of classism. She is just so bothered that these rich kids are getting away with a crime, and she knows they're getting away with a crime. It comes from what happened in her past, with her family. There was one scene with the young kid who plays the young Manolo Cardona character, where he spoke when he's walking away, and he turns and he looks at Flora and everything, and that was the greatest thing, right?
It's like, “He's such a prick.” [laughs]
She's like, “I'm really gonna get these guys…I'm really gonna get them in.” So, it's a thing to explore within the Latin community, whatever country you're from, but the classism is great. It really is.
I mean, there's that moment where with older Marco, she's like, “I got you.” She's at that point where victory is hers. It's come 360. “I've got you.”
It took twenty years.
As the season opens, or the series opens, Sullivan, he looks like this sort of maybe a little more typical, the older cop; he's a little more jaded, a little more hard-nosed. Slowly, I think in the later timeline, he becomes a bit of a nurturer for Flora. We see him in episode three; he arrives at her house, and he's bringing groceries. He's saying, “You have to take care of yourself.” I wonder where that comes, where you find that in the character?
I think, oddly enough, that that might start in episode four. So, if you saw the first three, I think it's very soon after that, that we start to get a glimpse of his home life and that his wife is very ill, and that has taken a great deal of his focus. I think it's one part of the reason that he's not as on top of things as Flora turns out to be on these clues and all these things that don't add up and don't make sense. So, all that nurturing and care is completely focused on his wife at that point.
When he loses that and eventually is retired, there's kind of nothing left. I don't even know in the series if we actually have children anymore. I know they were scripted. I think they might have been cut in an episode at some point, but you certainly don't see the children, his children, if he has them, if they existed. I was thinking that the relationship and the love he had for his wife almost kind of excluded them and that became a kind of like unit of two. Then, once that was taken away from him, there's kind of nothing left, and all that kind of love or attention or need whatever, gets poured into Flora, and the tables have just completely kind of turned. She's the one now on top and batting me away when I show up at the office, you know, handling oranges. I wanted to show up every time with some nurturing things. Here's the cake, here're some oranges, here's some fruit, here's some water, here's something, giving myself purpose on the one hand, but also, here's the one person I have left that I can do something for. Here's the one person for whom I can still be good. That, for reasons that get played out, is enormously important.
I'm interested in Flora's ability to accept that nurturing, and while she's sort of pushing it aside and not wanting to focus on herself, I think she's accepting this from her friend. She's not, at least not yet, having a strong reaction. It's, I think, telling me something about their friendship.
I think that Flora definitely loves Sully and views him as kind of a surrogate family member, because she doesn't have anything except for a dog. He is the only one that worries about her and looks after her and all that stuff. I think that's really, really sweet. As hard-nosed as she is and dismissive of people, because she just wants to focus on her job when he comes around, that's when you see Flora smile, even the younger Flora, when she is looking for the cell phone.
And she's like, “I got it.” She's poking fun at him. That's the only time that you see that softer human side, and it's Sully that brings it out of Flora. I think that's just so special. I don't think that was so much on the page. I think that that's just what we worked on and developed.
It's interesting, because in Spain, while we were doing that, we were the Americans in Spain; we had to rely on each other. So, maybe that bled through a bit. But I love that. I love that you see her tender side only with Sully.