In Prime Video’s The Consultant, Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz leads an ensemble cast of young actors in a twisted comedy-thriller. Opposite his coolly calculated character, rising stars Nat Wolff (The Stand), Brittany O’Grady (The White Lotus), and Aimee Carrero (The Menu) find themselves in a sordid situation in the workplace.
In The Consultant, when the CEO of one of the largest mobile game studios in Los Angles meets an untimely end, a consultant, Regus Patoff (Waltz), is sent in to observe the staff. Uptight and unforgiving, Regus is a fire-at-will “Suit” who hardly has to look for a reason to let go of the staff. When Patoff’s eccentric behavior makes it difficult to leave work at the office, co-workers Craig (Wolff) and Elaine (O’Grady), and Craig’s girlfriend Patti (Carrero), begin digging into his past. As the rabbit hole goes deeper, they begin to think there may be something more sinister at play with this bizarre new consultant.
Before The Consultant premiered on Prime Video, Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with Wolff, O’Grady, and Carrero about the series. During their interview, the trio discusses how much they knew about the show’s peculiar plot ahead of time, tease the challenges their characters face, and talk about working with Christoph Waltz. They also reveal the violent death one of them nearly met and how they handle emotional scenes. You can watch the interview in the player above, or read the full transcript below.
COLLIDER: I have a million questions for you guys, but I like starting off with a curve. For all three of you, if someone has never seen anything you’ve done before, what is the first thing you want them watching, and why?
AIMEE CARRERO: You know what? I wish people could watch my plays, but that’s impossible. Only because you have such a long time to craft it, you get in the groove, and then once you’re in that groove the play closes. So I wish that people could see the play the day before it closes. That’s on my wish list, but alas, can’t. Live. Live theater.
BRITTANY O’GRADY: I feel blessed [inaudible at :42] performance.
NAT WOLFF: You guys better come to my play. You guys gonna come?
O’GRADY: Look, I’ll fly out for it.
CARRERO: Hell yeah.
WOLFF: It’s up until April, Steven.
I was going to say, where was my invite?
WOLFF: Steven, I have a ticket at the will call every single day for you, and you never come.
For sure, that’s definitely going to work.
O’GRADY: If I had a project that I wish people would watch that wasn’t this, I would say Little Voice. That’s my favorite one. It was music, it was heart, it was dogs, it was so lovely. It’s like the purest thing I ever did in my career in film and television.
WOLFF: I would say the music I do with my brother. I think that we just put out a new song. I’d say some of that, or I did this movie called Palo Alto when I was 17, and it changed my life in a lot of ways, and I’m really proud of that movie. It just means a lot to me.
Jumping into why I get to talk to you guys. [The Consultant] is one of those series where you’re trying to figure out everything as each episode is going on. So I’m curious, how much were you told about Regus’ ultimate arc and how things were going to go when you first signed up, and how much were you finding out script by script?
WOLFF: It was script by script, but we got this incredible pilot script where you get the entire tone set up, and then there’s this huge twist at the end. I remember I screamed when I read it, and so I was like, “I have to be a part of this.” I mean, I even chased it.
The rest of the scripts were like Christmas presents. You’d just get it in the email and be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I get to do this scene.”
CARRERO: Yeah, sure. I think (writer) Tony [Basgallop], his mind is amaze. I don’t think I’d want to go in, but I like where it’s going, you know? [Laughs] Patti was sort of light in the first few episodes, so when I signed on I’d only read the pilot– or had only auditioned with the material in the pilot – so I had a long conversation with him. He didn’t really know where he was taking Patti, like how things would essentially play out, but he did know that he wanted to take her from A to Z as far as like, she starts off as one thing and her life completely unravels by the end.
I remember once he floated the idea of decapitating me violently. That didn’t work, or didn’t come to pass, but I was kinda looking forward to that. So I think he really did find it as it went, and that’s part of why it feels so strange.
WOLFF: And immediate. It wasn’t based on some overall outline, he was really going with his gut.
O’GRADY: When I was presented with the material to audition with it, Tony would tell me that Elaine would have to really struggle with her moral compass and be pretty influenced by Patoff, but it was pretty elusive. I didn’t really know which direction she was going to take and what choices she would make, and how she would do it. It was on the fly, and I feel like that’s what it would have actually been like for Elaine, so it was really fun and a good challenge.
I normally don’t ask this question, but I have not watched Christoph work on set, but I’ve interviewed him a few times, and he is an interesting person. What is it like on set?
WOLFF: He is so unique. He’s so uniquely himself, and I’ve gotten so lucky getting to work with a lot of great older actors and he’s, I think, the best experience I’ve had. I think he really is. One of the reasons that he makes such a great villain is that he actually has, in his own strange unique way, a real warmth and a magnetism that you’re just drawn to. It’s like a dream. I would pinch myself after doing that scene in the Hummer with him all day, and I cannot believe that I get to be in this doing these scenes with him.
O’GRADY: I think he’s absolutely brilliant. It’s so great to work with an actor, they often say “don’t meet your heroes, or don’t meet people that you look up to,” and this is just a real treat to be able to work with somebody who is so authentically themselves, and through that authenticity, there’s kindness and creativity and honesty and brilliance, and a genuine generosity to open his heart to us as actors. I felt it all the time when we worked together, and it was such a gift.
CARRERO: He’s like an onion. You’re just constantly peeling at the layers. Because when you first meet him, you think, “Oh what an unusual person,” because he is very still, but he’s also very curious, and he wants to know about the minutia of your life, the shit that you think is the least interesting about you, he wants to know. I think that’s probably what makes him such a great actor is that he really wants to get in and see how people work and what they’re going to bring to the table.
As far as a scene partner, like everybody was saying, it’s just like playing on a championship team with a star player. He just gonna serve you the ball every time, and it’s going to be perfect, and all you have to do is just keep your eye on it and that’s it.
WOLFF: Would you say he’s like, maybe, I don’t know, Lebron James?
CARRERO: I would never say that because that’s what you said about him.
WOLFF: Aimee is coming, she’s like the interview thief. You say something that’s good, and she saps it up and then says it in a more eloquent way. I’m like, “Damn it.”
I am very curious about how actors prepare for big moments. So for all three of you, hypothetically you have a huge scene on a Tuesday, something that’s going to be emotional or really dramatic, you know it’s going to require a lot out of you. How early on are you preparing for that moment? Is it like when you first get ready to start shooting, are you really going into hardcore mode the weekend before? Can you take me through how you like to prepare for a big moment?
CARRERO: I always think that it’s either like you do it on the day, or you spend a good amount of time. Having done plays, you don’t have the benefit of the freshness that comes with saying something for the first time. You have to really find it, and it also becomes kind of like a muscle. I find, for me, if I don’t have the time – like I’m doing an audition or something – I won’t rehearse it too much. But if I have some time with it, that’s more fun for me anyways to dig in and find, through my imagination, find what it must feel like for this character.
Something that I learned from Nat, too – I was doing a play at the same time I was doing The Consultant, and he sent me this playlist, or a few songs, and I used that, still, like to really get my head in, and I hadn’t, up to that point, used music as a way in.
WOLFF: For this, or for your play?
O’GRADY: I think that the preparation process is pretty different for each character. I would say, for this currently, having these six areas in the back of your mind and then to have a balance of being prepared, but also, as Aimee said, having that sense of freshness. Also, being open and able to be flexible and collaborative with the people around you, I think that’s super important, and just present. I think that was a big part of the process, at least for me, on this particular job.
WOLFF: Through music or through relaxation, I like to keep some semblance of the mood of the scene in me and in my body, and then at the end of the day, I like to just let it go. Sometimes if you let it go at lunch or something, then there’s a bigger hill to climb to get back up, you know? So sometimes I’ll try to stay in that zone for the time being. It actually ends up being less energy for me than the up and down.
The Consultant premieres on Prime Video on February 24. For more from the series, check out our interview with the show’s director and producer, Matt Shakman, below.