Reality TV

How Mare of Easttown’s Evan Peters Used His Real-Life Admiration for Kate Winslet

This article includes frank discussion of the latest episode of Mare of Easttown: “Poor Sisyphus.” If you’re not caught up, now is the time to leave. 

Last week on Mare of Easttown Evan Peters stole the show with his emotional, drunken meltdown in front of Kate Winslet’s Mare. This week Detective Colin Zabel took a backseat as other aspects of the case flooded in. But those who guessed that the title of last week’s episode, “Enter Number Two,” was a reference to the Gordon Lightfoot song “If You Could Read My Mind” and predicted Zabel was entering the picture as love interest number two for Mare, are likely feeling pretty smug right now. Zabel made good on last week’s whiskey-soaked flirtatious overture by asking Mare out on a date. Peters tells Vanity Fair that accessing Zabel’s admiration for Mare was pretty easy based on his professional esteem for Winslet. 

In this weeks’ episode of Vanity Fair’s podcast “Still Watching: Mare of Easttown,” Richard Lawson is dubious about Zabel’s motivations. In fact, he offers a theory that both Peters’ Zabel and Guy Pearce’s Richard may have ulterior motives. 

But for Peters, the reason for Zabel’s interest in Mare is obvious. There was one thing about Mare of Easttown that pushed the actor to step out of his comfort zone and tackle a character much more grounded in reality than the heightened Ryan Murphy-verse roles he’s been playing for years. “It was definitely something different,” he says. “I was sent the project and it said ‘Kate Winslet-starring’ and I was just like, ‘Uh, yeah.’”

There was a potential to play Zabel as more of a cocksure, hot-shot detective type but Peters says that in chewing over the role with series director Craig Zobel, they decided it was a better choice to make Zabel more of an eager-to-learn admirer of Mare. Just as Zabel enters the story in awe of Mare’s detective work, Peters entered the HBO series hoping to observe Winslet and her process. “It was really cool to work with her,” Peters says. “I found it really, really helpful to see her balance, juggle, and carry this whole show and work insane hours and still be a delightful, lovely person.”

Peters is disinclined to give away too many of Winslet’s acting secrets but he did note how incredibly detail-oriented she is in preparing for every scene sometimes: “She would walk up to me and be like, ‘Okay, so it’s 2:38 PM. We just came from the Deacon’s place and we probably stopped for a coffee and lunch. Now we’re here and we’re doing this thing.’ I would look at her and be like, ‘Was I supposed to do that? I didn’t prepare like that.’”

So, yes, Peters had no trouble playing Colin as someone dazzled by Mare’s extreme competence on the job. “I hate the word ‘meta,’” he says, laughing. “I don’t even know what it means. But you sort of go in there thinking I’m going to try to learn from Kate. I’m gonna try to do the best job that I can. Colin is also going in there trying to learn from Mare and realizes that she’s really good at her job and really in-tune with her instincts.”

For Zabel, of course, that professional admiration spills over into something more. Despite her gruff demeanor, and fondness for baggy flannels, Zabel wants that date: “He really likes Mare. The whole show for me, and Colin, is about Mare. There’s something about her that lifts him up and brings him out of his funk. She’s such a good detective and he wants that.” Surely, it doesn’t hurt that Mare looks like Kate Winslet. 

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