True crime fans have developed an appetite for female-driven adaptations—the latest being Hulu‘s limited series Candy, which dramatizes Candy Montgomery’s 1980 murder of Betty Gore. The project features Jessica Biel (The Sinner) as Candy and Melanie Lynskey (Yellowjackets) as Betty, with Law & Order: SVU alums Pablo Schreiber and Raul Esparza and Veep‘s Timothy Simons rounding out the cast. Unlike other similar projects, Candy brings to life a story that many people probably don’t know about—and takes a very different approach to the crime.
I sat down with executive producers Robin Veith and Nick Antosca to discuss what made Candy Montgomery’s story worth revisiting, how they put together the series, and if Schreiber’s casting as unassuming husband Allan Gore had anything to do with his brilliant and totally not unassuming part in FX’s brilliant drama Lights Out. Look ahead to the series before streaming episodes on Hulu in a five-night event.
Brittany Frederick: What about this story appealed to you? Especially with it having happened so long ago, were you already familiar with it or did it pop up for you now?
Nick Antosca: I read about the story of Candy Montgomery 20 years or so ago, and had it in the back of my mind and thought about it often over the years, just because it raises questions about what is there inside of all of us? What would make me explode?
Robin and I had worked together before twice and really wanted to make a show together. I brought her the story and said, “Hey, is this…?” I’m going to use steal her phrase now, it was Mad Men with an axe murder. And it was just like, “I think you would be an amazing showrunner for this. Do you want to tell this story? And I could help produce it.” Then we took it from there.
BF: The story has been publicized before, and especially with how much true crime content there is out there, did that free you up to not have to lay out as much exposition or encourage you not to go in any specific direction? Since the audience may not know all the details, but they’ll probably have a general idea of what to expect.
Robin Veith: There’s 1,000 ways to tell this story because of what happened. At the end of the day, you have to tell the story that you want to tell and make the point that you want to make. And so to that end, we just did our own independent research. We had these amazing consulting producers, Jim Atkinson and John Bloom, who were reporters at the time and spent time with Candy, Allan [Gore and] Pat [Mongomery], and knew extensively this whole world. We had all the court documents—thousands of pieces of paper. And we also spoke to Robert Udashen, who was Candy’s attorney, and Steve Deffibaugh, who was the investigating deputy. You formulate the story that you want to tell and the point that you want to make, and that’s what you stay true to.
BF: Was there an episode or moment in Candy where you felt that story had clicked in for you?
RV: The entirety of episode five. It was terrifying getting there, and it was terrifying executing it because it’s such a delicate tightrope, but once I saw everybody shooting their scenes and doing their part to put together the story of the finale, I was like “Oh, thank God, we did it.” (laughs)
NA: I second what Robin said, but also in every episode there’s a moment that I’m like, “Damn, that gave me chills.” I couldn’t wait to see the moment when Candy gets the phone call learning about what happened to Betty. And the volleyball game and just all these things that I remembered very vividly from the first time I learned about the story. Those moments exist in every single episode—at least one.
BF: Robin, you worked with Pablo Schreiber years ago on Lights Out, which might be one of the most underappreciated TV series ever. Did that lead to him being cast in Candy, or how was it just to work with him again?
RV: Pablo is such an extremely talented actor and just solid dude of a human being. When the scripts were going around, we were speaking to our agents [about] who they had in the pool at our agency, and Pablo’s name came up. I was just like “Isn’t he Master Chief?” (laughs) “I know the dude’s 6’5″, but isn’t he just jacked right now? Would he want to play a beta nerd?” But they said “No, he’s interested.” And I was like “Oh, well, I know him as a man, and I know him as an actor; let’s talk to him.”
He was just brilliant. He just came with this whole perspective of Allen; he said he just wanted to be one of these guys who just disappears into the wallpaper. And it’s such a testament to Pablo’s ability as an actor that he could do that as. He’s just a gentle giant, and he was able to play this beta male computer nerd effectively. And it was extremely compelling to watch him do it.
BF: What feeling or idea do you want the audience to walk away with at the end of Candy? Is it to have sympathy for Candy Montgomery, to think about their own lives, or something else that stuck with you along the way?
RV: I would just hope that the audience would experience it like we continually talked about it in the writer’s room. Take it all in, but analyze it. Don’t assume anything is true. Any time you hear a story, or someone tells you something that is a fact, just take a breath and really think about it. Because, like I said, there’s at least two ways to tell every story. There’s probably a thousand.
NA: I hope that people have the same conversations that we had, where some people were saying, “This person is a psychopath, and there’s no way this story is true.” And other people were saying “I believe her, and I relate to her. And I feel for everybody involved.” And some people said “I empathize with Candy, and I think what she says is true, but I disagree with the verdict.” I hope that it inspires that debate.
Candy is now streaming on Hulu.
Article content is (c)2020-2022 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr, on Instagram at @BFTVGram.