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'Big Love': Season 3 insight, Season 4 scoop and why we're wild about Harry

April 23, 2009 |  8:10 am

DSC_2751 “Harry Dean Stanton rocks,” declared one audience member while filing out of the “Big Love” panel at PaleyFest on Wednesday night. And the 82-year-old actor sure kept things lively during the event (moderated by our very own Mary McNamara) -- alternating between bemoaning his alter ego’s death and waxing philosophical, and in effect stealing the show in between.
In addition to Stanton and the show’s creators, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, most of the main cast members of the critically acclaimed HBO drama were in attendance, save Ginnifer Goodwin (Margene), whose unexplained absence spurred sighs of disappointment from the crowd. Turns out she, along with Amanda Seyfried (Sarah) and Mary Kay Place (Adaleen), were off filming movies. Some highlights:

Grant him peace As previously reported,  Roman Grant is, in fact, dead. “Dead is dead on this show,” confirmed Olsen. Good thing Harry Dean Stanton isn't. In the first of many musings, the venerable actor responded to Roman’s demise by declaring, “I’m famous and a legend, and they kill me in the series, and why?…Christ rose from the dead. And where do you go after you die? What were you before you were born? I’m playing a patriarch and all, ... so everything I do is ordained by God, and I’m a gangster, similar to the Sopranos, actually, and all religions are gangs to me and I have no beliefs. I am nothing. But I mean that in a good way.”

Scheffer said Roman's hulking presence will linger next season -- in spirit, if not in body. '“He was a looming presence. And he’s still a looming presence,” declared Scheffer. “From the grave, let’s say, all things are coming to light that are hidden.”

The deal with Ana “She was our Yoko,” proclaimed Jeanne Tripplehorn (Barb). Even though this fourth wife was married and divorced within the course of an episode -- “If he hadn’t pressed her on those tips, she might still be with us!” said Bill Paxton ruefully -- Paxton (Bill) is not closed to the possibility to furthering the Henrickson clan. “I hope there’s going to be more wives,” he said.

That’s so not Nicki Chloë Sevigny, who appeared in a decidedly un-Nicki skirt that revealed nearly all of her never-ending gams, received a warm audience applause for her riveting portrayal of the prickly yet DSC_3147 sympathetic second wife. Plus, “I get all the great zingers,” she remarked. (“And look at these legs!” marveled Stanton appreciatively.)

What happened to Rhonda? Last time we saw the wayward compound gal, she was hitching her way to L.A. in a truck cab. “She’s a gal who makes her way around,” said Scheffer. “You might see Rhonda here on Hollywood Boulevard,” joked Olsen.

What's in store for Season 4 For Alby (Matt Ross), “there’s a power vacuum on the compound, so there’s a lot going on with that,” said Scheffer. “J.J., Nicki’s ex, is back in town, and Cara Lynn is stolen from the house in the light of day and gone to the Henrickson house to receive Communion. The church of Bill was begun. [Barb] has lost pretty much everything ... she has to go through life with a different identity, now, and a different kind of reality going on…. Chloë’s got Cara Lynn to deal with, but you know, Nicki will always be Nicki.”

Also, we haven’t seen the end of the Ben-Margene sexual tension, and Scheffer said they’ll be delving into the subjugation of women in a deeper way. And “finding a single story that brings in all the family to it,” revealed Olsen. Alby’s homosexual leanings will also be explored. “We’re getting out of the restrooms,” affirmed Scheffer. And Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) will embrace her ability to be a home shopping network star. “With Margene, it was like, you know she can’t stay baby doll forever,” remarked Olsen. “There’s a chance that she could become the queen of the QVC.”

Scruffy lives! As for the saga of embattled wife and mother Lois (the great Grace Zabriskie, who looked elegant in black), “we’ve got a pretty big story for her and her husband and maybe a grandson or two,” revealed Olsen. According to Olsen, there’s also something hidden in a line Lois spoke to Wanda about her precious bird Scruffy (“Might you tell me from where you made the purchase of that bird so if I might want one for companionship I would know where to procure one?”) Um, so she’ll be selling birds on the black market? Hopefully she won't be tending to their unmentionables with a Q-tip as well.

Defending Bill Paxton took issue with the less-than-positive outlook on his character. “[Bill's] not a control freak -- he’s a patriarch, he’s a visionary, and is really, would do anything, I mean, anything, for his family,” insisted Paxton. “He’s a guy who when he’s tested, he’s got reserves, and I admire the hell out of him. I see him as kind of an old Western guy, like you know, like one of the great Western icons, like Alan Ladd.”

There’s no such thing as a small part Case in point: The character of Kathy (Joey's second-wife-to-be) was a bit role that expanded to accommodate actress Mireille Enos' abilities. “She was just going to be a one-hit wonder,” revealed Olsen. “She had a very assigned purpose in an episode in the second year ... and when Mireille showed up for the performance, we just fell in love with her.”

The 'Big Love' women rule And they’re not afraid to do the heavy lifting. “You know what I love?” declared Tripplehorn. “I love women and power tools on the show. And Mary Kay, with her Hummer. Nicki’s always on the roof, or got a refrigerator on her back.… Talk about empowering.”

DSC_3160 Road Tripping Episode 6, in which the Henricksons journey to Hill Cumorah, N.Y., turned out to be a road trip in real life. A caravan, actually. “It was the greatest time,” recalled Tripplehorn. “Chloe and I were in my little Prius,” dubbed the Smug Bug, and others were in a van nicknamed the Black Stallion. “We rocked an El Torito like it’s never been rocked,” revealed Paxton. Only, as Sevigny pointed out, “  ‘Entourage’ gets to go to Cannes, and we get to go to Sacramento?”

Hope for the future “I can’t wait to see what’s ahead for this family, or Barb. I can’t wait to start shooting again in August because I have no idea personally where Barb is going to go,” said Tripplehorn. “I have a feeling that the Henricksons are truly starting their own faith, and I hope that Barb takes a real active role and embraces this new faith.”

“We’re going to take over the world!” Paxton responded. 

“What about me? I’m dead,” harrumphed Stanton. “I’ll have to have a meeting with the writers on this.”

-- Allyssa Lee

Photo credits: Kevin Parry / The Paley Center for Media