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'Death and Other Details' stars: Shipboard murder mystery has family tension, laughs

Violett Beane and Mandy Patinkin star in "Death and Other Details," premiering Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hulu
Violett Beane and Mandy Patinkin star in "Death and Other Details," premiering Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hulu

NEW YORK, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- Jagged Little Pill actress Lauren Patten and God Friended Me alum Violett Beane say they wanted to star in Death and Other Details because it blends comedy so well with drama, mystery and social commentary.

Set to premiere on Hulu on Tuesday, the show follows Imogene Scott (Beane), an amateur sleuth who must team up with Rufus Cotesworth (Mandy Patinkin), a private detective she despises, to clear her name when she becomes the prime suspect in a murder on a luxury ocean liner.

Patten plays Anna Collier, Imogene's wealthy adopted sister. Rahul Kohli, Angela Zhou, Hugo Diego Garcia, Pardis Saremi and Linda Emond co-star.

Patten and Beane credited the show's creators, Mike Weiss and Heidi Cole McAdams, for setting the stage so the cast and filmmakers could work together and perfect the scenes during rehearsal.

"You find the tone and what direction we're taking these scenes. You can play it in different ways, and we had to figure that out as a company," Patten told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

Lauren Patten can be seen in "Death and Other Details," premiering Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hulu
Lauren Patten can be seen in "Death and Other Details," premiering Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Hulu

"But, really, so much is on the page. Mike and Heidi are really awesome and specific writers. Thinking about the tone and the humor, the humor is really coming from the characters," she added.

"I never felt like I had to figure out: 'Well, how do I play this joke? What's the best rhythm to say this so it will work?' It's just so naturally baked in."

Mandy Patinkin attends the premiere of Amazon Studios' "Life Itself" at the ArcLight Cinema Dome in Hollywood in 2018. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Mandy Patinkin attends the premiere of Amazon Studios' "Life Itself" at the ArcLight Cinema Dome in Hollywood in 2018. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Beane said Death and Other Details has something for everyone, and it is a show she would likely enjoy watching even if she weren't in it.

"There isn't anything to not like about it. It really does cover all of these aspects," she said.

Violett Beane arrives on the red carpet at the "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" U.S. premiere in Times Square in 2019 in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Violett Beane arrives on the red carpet at the "Pokemon Detective Pikachu" U.S. premiere in Times Square in 2019 in New York City. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

"Because it's a murder mystery, you are involved as an audience member. You're not sitting back, maybe on your phone or maybe having a conversation with somebody else. We give you all of the clues. If you listen to everything, you can solve this!"

Another draw for the actresses was that the female characters were quirky and well-developed.

"Imogene is an incredibly strong-willed person. She doesn't take 'no' for an answer. She needs to see something to believe in it. She is a realist," Beane said.

"She went through a lot as a kid, and I think that because of that, she puts up a lot of walls and it's hard to break them down."

The actress said she was similar to Imogene in this way when she was in her early 20s.

"I had so many walls up and I didn't let a lot of people in," she said.

"I grew to realize that actually the strongest thing you can do is let people in and describe how you're feeling and share those things," she said. "So, in a way, I feel like Imogene and my younger self are very, very akin."

Patten described Anna -- who is being groomed to take over her family's company -- as "driven" and "tightly wound."

"She's got a lot on her plate," Patten said.

"She's trying to close this deal on this trip that the show takes place on. She's somebody who prides herself on having it altogether and being in control, which I think is a fun place to start with a show."

The actress said it was exciting to play someone who is vastly different from her in some ways, "down to wearing these 5-inch heels throughout the entire shoot," but totally relatable for her in others.

"What I do feel similar about is how much she really cares about her family and the company and really protecting her people and how much she goes after stuff. I relate to that drive," Patten said.

The relationship between the two characters is close-knit, but also fraught with tension.

"They genuinely love each other," Patten said.

"But there's like a fault line because even though they grew up as sisters, they aren't actually sisters, and Imogene actually has a very different life experience than Anna. That gets to play out in really interesting ways throughout the season."

Beane said the women are forced to be honest with each other when neither of them is wired to do that comfortably.

"They don't handle it the best way because they don't know how," she added. "Both characters play things close to the vest for completely different reasons."

Having Rufus turn up and "throw a monkey wrench" into the plot was also a great twist, according to Patten.

"Imogene, for very specific reasons, but also the Collier family and Anna, all sort of hate this guy and think he's a hack," Patten said.

"Everybody feels thrown off by his presence because of the history with him and what he represents."

Imogene met Rufus when she was a little girl, and although she regarded him as a father figure for years, they are not on good terms when they cross paths again on the ship.

"There is such a dramatic change in their relationship," Beane said. "He completely neglects her and walks away in her mind and causes a lot of additional trauma to her. Then, as the season progresses, they kind of need each other."