“Lessons in Chemistry,” the Apple TV+ series based on Bonnie Garmus’ best-selling book, hinges on the chemistry between Elizabeth Zott (Brie Larson) and Calvin Evans (Lewis Pullman), which star and executive producer Larson chalks up to luck.
Zott and Evans collided like atoms when he threw up on her dress at a pageant hosted by their workplace, Hastings Lab, after they had already butted heads over Elizabeth taking some chemical ingredients from Calvin’s supply. But throughout the first two episodes, they begin to understand each other before Calvin’s untimely and tragic death.
“We didn’t have that much time before filming, but sometimes it just works out is really just all I have to say with that. It was like a nervous thing for everybody because the show is really propelled by their love and by their commitment to one another, but it’s a short amount of time,” Larson told TheWrap. “You don’t have much to work with, but I just think that’s how it works in the book where there’s just this undeniable love and beauty between them —it just ends too soon. To be able to depict that, and once we had that, we were like, ‘Okay, the show’s gonna be okay.’”
In addition to starring in the adaptation, Larson also executive produced the show, which she said “looks like I’m just a person on my phone a lot.”
“For me was only additive. It was more work, but it was really important work because it just allowed me to be the best teammate that I could possibly be and really understand everybody else’s role on set and how to best support that,” she said.
Larson was passionate about expanding the historical scope of the novel and the time period in which the novel is set.
“There wasn’t much that we veered away from in the book. The book is so strong. Adding more context to that period of time was the biggest difference,” Larson said. “It’s not that the book is bad. Books are just different. You can focus in on someone’s point of view in their internal mind, and you don’t think so much about like, ‘Okay, she goes to the grocery store, who’s at the grocery store?’”
Larson said the creative team had a lot of “honest conversations” amongst themselves and with consultants to bring the racial storyline to the forefront.
“These were things that we had to work with consultants on and have really honest conversations about like, what that world would look like where she lives and and what this period of time was like. And once we had those conversations, it just became very clear that that had to be present.”
Seven out of eight episodes of “Lessons in Chemistry” are now available to stream on Apple TV+.