To get you ready for tonight’s Season 3 premiere of The Affair, here’s what series creator and executive producer Sarah Treem, and stars Maura Tierney and Joshua Jackson shared during this past summer’s CBS Studios International press junket.
Where does the story pick up at the beginning of the season?
“It starts three years after the end of the second season,” Treem explained. “We pick up three years later, and there is going to be a new perspective — a character named Juliette Le Gall who is being played by Irène Jacob. We’re really excited about it.” She added, “This season is really about accountability. I think you saw [that] from the end of last season that all of the characters were somewhat responsible for Scott Lockhart’s death except for maybe Noah Solloway. It’s like it gets worse before it gets better. All of the characters are having to take stock of who they actually are, and they are all very much at odds with themselves this season, which I am excited about.”
Why did you choose to move the story forward three years?
“In terms of the time jump, it will reveal itself when you see the first episode and you understand what has happened over those three years,” said Treem. “It just felt like an organic place to start a third season.”
Will Helen and Cole’s stories overlap this season?
“Everybody wants to know, when do Cole and Helen have sex?” said Treem. “I can promise you that’s actually not going to happen this season. So, take that off the radar. But I think yes, the show is about these four characters, so they will always be intertwined in each other’s lives in some way, and Cole and Helen do have some overlap this season for sure. They have an interesting relationship because they have the shared history, but they don’t really know each other at all.”
Why do you think the couples on The Affair stay in these highly dysfunctional relationships?
“Cole and Alison, they have this enormous lengthy shared history together and they had this incredible tragedy that both bound them together and drove them apart,” remarked Jackson. “And after a lifetime of togetherness, particularly for him, he just didn’t know any other way and that’s specific to that relationship. But I think in each relationship on the show and each dynamic between two people is its own thing.”
Treem added, “All relationships are dysfunctional in some way, and functional in others. The question is if the relationship gets to be more pain than anything else then people get out of it. I think we also have a really high tolerance for pain as human beings, and you don’t like to be alone. It’s scary to contemplate whether you will be happier on your own. There’s something that’s existentially terrifying about that.”
Season 2 got into the influence Noah’s father may have had on his relationships with women. Will that continue to be explored?
“I actually think that this season is a lot about Noah’s relationship with his mom,” Treem told us. “It takes two parents to create a child, and Noah’s relationship with his father and his anger toward his father is more obvious than his relationship with his mom. But I think Noah’s relationship with his mom and what happened and the circumstances surrounding her death are very much a part of why he became the person he is.”
Depending on the point of view, do you feel that you are playing different characters?
Well, I certainly [was], particularly in the beginning of Season 2,” Jackson explained. “[In Season 1] Cole was seen from really mostly one other perspective and occasionally Noah’s. So in that case you are paying a pretty narrow shift between those two perspectives. Once we got into Season 2 and you got to see how Cole perceived himself it was a pretty radical departure from how he had been before. There is a great joy in being able to play something that is rooted in the central truth about a person, but with very different facets of being exposed depending on whose perspective he is being revealed from.”
“In Season 1 the way Helen was perceived through Alison’s point of view was very different from Noah,” Tierney weighed in. “So it’s sort of like there are four actors but twelve characters.”
“Yeah, take that, Tatiana Maslany,” Jackson joked.
With a story told from several perspectives and the same scene being played out at least a couple of different ways, what can you share about the filming process?
“Sometimes we will do two [perspectives] in the same day,” said Tierney. “Like we will do Noah’s side and Helen’s side in one ten-hour period of the same scene. It is fun though. I like doing that. You could really have something to be in opposition to, and it didn’t happen three weeks ago, it happened like three hours ago”
“It is definitely intense but it is rewarding,” Jackson commented.
Photo Courtesy of CBS