Reality TV stars who return for further seasons are too addicted to the spotlight, says UnREAL star Constance Zimmer.
Season 4 of the US satire will be an “All Stars” edition, bringing back male & female contestants from the fictional show-within-a-show, Everlasting. It requires a special type of person to return to a Reality show, once they have survived their first experience.
“People go back for more. Bachelor in Paradise-type shows are people who have been on the show before and now they are coming back to do it again. So there are people who love it, crave it,” says Zimmer.
“A couple of people I have spoken to say it kind of becomes an addiction. Once the shock of it is over, and what you signed up for (is over,) then you feel like you can turn it around and manipulate them back. But then they realise you can’t.”
Last year the US Bachelor in Paradise shut down production following an incident in Mexico, with claims of drinking and sexual misconduct between two contestants. For Zimmer it was practically a case of life-imitating-art.
“We were shooting Season 4 when that story came about. I’d be lying if I said we don’t take some of that and use it on our show. It was almost a little too… unreal.”
“I play a lot of these strong, unapologetic characters”
Playing ruthless producer Quinn has been a joy for Zimmer, whose previous credits include Entourage, House of Cards, The Newsroom and Agents of SHIELD. Widely praised for her scene-stealing performance, it also landed her an Emmy nomination.
“I play a lot of these strong, unapologetic characters but Quinn is the first character where I’ve been a lead. All the other characters have been recurring or supporting and I haven’t been given the time to make them very well-rounded. What’s been the greatest gift with Quinn is I feel like I am able to show so much of the character and show that she is six-dimensional,” she continues.
“It’s hard as an actor to gauge what people are watching or if they care. (The Emmy nomination) was really a feeling like when Sally Field won her Oscar and said ‘You like me! You really like me!’ That was how I felt just from the nomination alone.”
To ‘break out’ in a show that screens on a female-skewing cable network was even more remarkable.
“It was on a network that wasn’t necessarily known for dark comedy.
“(Lifetime) is a network pretty much geared to doing things that are ‘nice’ for women, and stories that are not controversial. But on UnREAL everything is controversial.”
While UnREAL takes pleasure in debunking the making of Reality TV there are times on set when the lines blur for cast and crew as they film behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes of the behind-the-scenes…
“A lot of the time we have real camera crews in our shots pretending that they’re fake-camera crews. We can be watching the monitor pretending we’re watching ‘Everlasting’ and we are actually watching what they’re shooting for UnREAL. So it becomes incredibly meta.”
“Wait are you improvising? Are we in the scene?”
Zimmer has also directed for the first time in Season 3, and again in Season 4 -a challenge for crew trying to discern between Quinn and Zimmer.
“I’m not yelling at people because I can’t be mean. But I have to stay in character. So everybody is like, ‘Wait are you improvising? Are we in the scene?’ It’s so insane. Everybody has to sign waivers to be on camera because you never know who will be seen. There are real crew mixing with fake crew all the time.”
But while Quinn is adored for her tough exterior, Zimmer concedes she still wants to bring out more shades of her personality.
“I would really like to see her less angry,” she explains. “It’s such a covering-mechanism, and such a wall. I remember seeing one episode in Season 2 where I got to smile and laugh when Quinn was falling in love with John Booth (Ioan Gruffudd). Even the crew said ‘Who’s that person?’
“That’s why I like it when she drinks. It takes a little bit of the edge off her.”
For now Australian fans are so enamoured with the show, Zimmer says they can seemingly do no wrong. She is just happy they are so addicted to un-Reality and that they are investing in some of the issues it raises.
“Messages of feminism, equal rights, sexual assault”
“The fact that people are talking about us and they care so much about the show and the characters and the messages of feminism, equal rights, sexual assault…. there’s so much going on in the show that I am happy the ones who are watching it, are getting it,” she says.
“They are devouring it, and it makes me very proud.”
UnREAL is currently screening on Stan.