When FX’s comedy Breeders returns for season 3 on June 9, the show will look remarkably different. Ally and Paul’s relationship has collapsed, and the two of them are now going in entirely separate directions—a whole 180 from where the series started. That may startle the audience, and it might even be frightening for some actors to venture into such uncharted territory. But for star Daisy Haggard, who portrays Ally opposite Martin Freeman’s Paul, it was exciting.
I recently spoke to Daisy about Breeders‘ big narrative changes, if her perspective on Ally has changed with all that the character has been through, and if her own experience as a writer—she created, stars in and co-writes the BBC comedy-drama Back to Life—has helped her navigate Ally’s world. Preview season 3 in our interview, then tune into the season premiere Monday, June 9 on FX.
Brittany Frederick: Breeders season 3 essentially blows up the show. After having two seasons to settle into Ally and her world, what was it like to then take all that away this season?
Daisy Haggard: I love that. That makes your job as an actor really fun because you think, “Oh, I don’t know what’s going to happen. How are we going to do it?” We’re not getting [the scripts] all at once, so we’re finding out what’s happening in the story as we’re filming sometimes and I just find that really exciting. This season they really threw a lot at Ally, so I had a lot of big dramatic, juicy, chunky scenes to play, and it was just a thrill.
BF: Ally has gone through more character development than viewers would see in a typical comedy. Has your perspective on her changed as she’s evolved so much?
DH: I don’t know that it has. I think that she’s sort of grown with me, so I don’t judge her that objectively. I get the scenes and I see where she’s going. It’s more that you are like going on a path with someone going, “Oh, no, they’re going on this path. Oh, no, poor thing.” It’s like you’re holding someone’s hand and you’re sort of doing a funny dance with them.
I feel like she’s still the same person, but she’s got a lot on her plate [in season 3], and her ability to contain her anger and her own frustration is very thin at the moment. She’s much more like “Argh! I’m a woman, hear me roar.”
BF: What do you love about her character? What keeps bringing you back to play her?
DH: She’s really strong and she’s really direct, and she says what she thinks. I’m much more silly. I think she’s way more grown-up than I am, so we’re very different. But she’s really good at saying, “No, I’m not happy about that,” or expressing how she feels when something isn’t right. I think she’s a good mother. She loses her way a bit in this season, because she’s got too much going on, so something’s got to give.
But I think she’s fun and a good mother and a good partner, and would be a good friend. I really like Ally. I think I’d get on with her. But she’s more sensible than me. And I think she’s quite sorted in a way that I like.
BF: What was it like for you to navigate Ally and Paul’s new relationship with Martin? Were there any particular highlights you want viewers to look forward to?
DH: There’s a great scene with me and Martin where there’s a moment I think many couples would relate to. I challenge him on something that I’m not particularly happy about, to do with perhaps him having a new female friend. When we did the rehearsal for the scene, before we shot it, all the crew went “Ooh!” It was such a well-written scene, the men and the women in the room could really feel the argument that was brewing between this couple. So that excites me.
BF: But while their relationship is rocky, you two have now worked together for three seasons, so how has your dynamic evolved? You’re continuing to build these characters even as the characters are falling apart.
DH: It’s great, because I knew Martin before; I’d never worked with him, but we were friends, so we had this familiarity, which I think really helped. You have a rhythm together. It just makes each season a bit easier. It means that when you are thrown seven or eight pages a day with huge speeches, you have this understanding, because you’re kind of work married, that you just get in there and do it. We get on really well. We only ever make each other laugh or work well together. It’s just been really nice to work with somebody so good, so many times, for such a long time.
BF: Breeders is one of several great comedies that you’ve worked on over your career. Have you noticed that there’s a common thread between any of those shows that makes for outstanding comedy?
DH: Whether something’s super broad or super naturalistic, it’s about truth. It’s about it feeling truthful and honest and kind of clear, if that makes sense. Even if you’ve got this huge premise and everyone’s really silly, there has to be a truth to it…Whether you’re doing the smallest idea and playing it very simply, or doing something that’s really cartoony, the rules of the world are what they are. I think that works with comedy really well, because then people trust you, and then you can take it wherever you want.
BF: You’re also co-writing your own project with Back to Life. Having done two series of that show, has your writing experience given you an additional perspective on the comedy of Breeders?
DH: I always find it really interesting reading other people’s scripts now because of having spent such a long time slaving over my own. (laughs) And then it’s also just lovely not worrying about it. Just being given brilliant lines by brilliant writers and going, “Thank you. I don’t have to worry about what color the curtains are. I don’t have to worry about anything. I don’t have to make any decisions. I just have to learn my lines really well and try and keep up with the brilliant Martin Freeman.”
Breeders airs Mondays at 10:00 p.m. on FX.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.