Sunday, June 16, 2024

Daniel Sunjata & J. August Richards Talk ‘Notorious’ Brotherly Love [EUR Eclusive]

daniel, j. august -notorious on ABC
Piper Pirabo, Daniel Sunjata, J. August Richards and the cast of ABC’s ‘Notorious’

*Inspired by the true-life stories of famed criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and cable news producer Wendy Walker, “Notorious” is a provocative look at the unique, sexy, and dangerous interplay of criminal law and the media.

Starring Piper Pirabo, Daniel Sunjata ( as Jake Gregorian), Sepideh Moafi, Kate Jennings Grant, Ryan Guzman, Kevin Zegers, J. August Richards (as Bradley Gregorian), Aimee Teegarden, “Notorious” premiered Sept. 22 on ABC, and EUR/Electronic Urban Report caught-up with Daniel and J. August to discuss their characters’ brotherly love, and the impact that the evolution of journalism is having on how we receive and share news.

Check out our Q&A with the delightful actors below.

You both play brothers and partners at a law firm, so describe how Bradley’s work ethics differ from Jake’s.

J. August: Well, what I absolutely love about my character is I kinda look at my character as like a member of the Medici family from back in the day. Our family has a legacy. Our father, as a black man in the 60’s or the 50’s or whatever, being a criminal defense attorney and starting his own firm, and then handing it down to his sons, I think that really means something to Bradley and to Jake as well — to carry on the family tradition. So I really get into that aspect of the character when we’re working together.

Is one brother more willing to break the rules than the other?

J. August: Probably.

Daniel: We both have strengths that complement each others weaknesses. I don’t know that there’s a difference in the degree of our work ethic. It seems like we just have different skills as brothers, and we would be incomplete one without the other.

J. August Richards, NOTORIOUS
J. August Richards attends the screening of ABC “Notorious” at The Tenth Annual PaleyFest Fall TV Previews presented by The Paley Center For Media, in Beverly Hills, California, on September 10, 2016.

Talk about the personal dynamic between the brothers, is there any sibling rivalry?

J. August: I don’t think so. What do you think, Daniel?

Daniel: I’ve thought about that because they retooled, and wisely so, because it gives J. August Richards such a better platform upon which to shine, cause dude, you’re a gifted actor. I love acting with you. But at first they had him as the brother who does the grunt work for the firm, while Jake goes and stands in front of the cameras, and maybe feels a little like the unappreciated “black sheep of the family.” But they decided that-that was not the best way to go. They’re like, ‘Look at this amazing actor we have, let’s not waste him.’ He and Jake are equals. And I think at this point in our relationship, we went through a period where that could have stopped us from getting where we have already arrived by the time you meet us on the show.

J. August: I couldn’t agree more, and I think that they are so on one another’s teams, so I don’t really see any sibling rivalry. The one thing that I do find fascinating that you and I have never talked about Daniel, and tell me what you think, I think it’s fascinating sometimes — and I find this with my own siblings sometimes — sometimes you reverse roles of who’s the older one and who’s the younger one. Do you feel like our characters do that sometimes?

Daniel: Absolutely, it shows itself sometimes, and I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there are several moments where Jake is really needing something real to hold on to, or needing love from somebody who knows who he is on the deepest level, and it’s Bradley. In those scenes, and I don’t want to get into the details of them, but I kinda felt like you were fathering me a little bit, big-brothering me a little bit. You know what I mean?

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J. August: Absolutely, and I think that is so real. You don’t see that-that often on TV, where siblings kind of switch who is the older one. It’s just fascinating. I love that aspect. And one cool thing about us working together is, I feel like Daniel and I are very in sync.

Daniel: There could be a whole spin-off show just about how we got to where we are. Two black men trying to make it fresh out of law school, in competition with one another but trying to uphold the family name. And everything that people who look like you and I would have to go through in order to get to where these characters are in the world of the show.

J. August: Sometimes other actors will say, ‘Oh, I don’t want to play the black secretary of state. I just want to be the secretary of state.’ For me, when I know that the character is black that tells me something about the journey that-that person took to get to where they are. We have thought a lot about what it took for our characters to get to where they are right now. And our father.

daniel sunjata
Daniel Sunjata

Will “Notorious” explore how the evolution of journalism is affecting how people receive and process news?

J. August: Absolutely. That’s what love about the show. I think the show is so right now because with everything that’s going on in the world. If you just go back to Ryan Lochte alone, if you just go back to Chris Brown, who also was represented by Mark Gegaros, if you look at how those stories unfolded so quickly, and there were so many turns in the story based on social media and the 24 hour news cycle. That is our show. That is the world of our show. So I think it’s a very current and very now show.

Daniel: I’m sure journalism is evolving in the places in which it’s actually being practiced in its pure and true sense. But there’s also things that parade as journalism and have all the glamour, flavor and flair that an untrained eye, and somebody who might not be the most critical thinker would see it and be absolutely glamoured by the way it’s presented. Thinking that it’s the news when in fact it’s just a bunch of opinions. And the opinions reflected might have an agenda. There are so many instances in the current presidential election. The country has almost become a caricature of itself. It’s almost like we’re a reality show now. That’s what Jimmy Kimmel said at the Emmys, not that many people laughed.

What’s your character’s main goal throughout the series, and how does his relationship with Julia complicate this goal?

Daniel: We are the proverbial two hands that wash one other, but only when both hands want to grasp in the same direction, or are in concert about what their self-interest is in the equation of two. Sometimes our self interests and our personal interest jive and there’s mutual beneficiality, and sometimes what’s good for the show is not what’s good for Jake, and that creates interesting drama. It’s going to be one of the main fuels of the show. That, and hopefully the chemistry between the ensemble cast.

daniel & j. august - notorious
Daniel Sunjata & J. August Richards

“Notorious” is inspired by true stories about famed attorney Mark Gegaros, considering his relationship with pop culture, do you think this will be the primary draw that hopefully sustains viewers? 

Daniel: I anticipate that we’re probably going to continue to have these fortuitous events happen that are going to be very easily adapted to the world of our show the entire time that we’re on the air.

J. August: I hope that’s one of many reasons why people like the show. I think people are also going to get into the dynamic between Daniel and Piper as well because they have really tremendous chemistry. I don’t know how producers and casting directors do it, but they couldn’t have chosen two people that compliment each other more. He and I are aware that we look absolutely nothing alike, but we feel so much alike. We get along so well and it translates well onscreen. I really ask myself how did they know that we were going to get along this well, but also how did they know it was going to translate in the way that it does.

So, brothers, tell me — is all press good press?

J. August: I’ll put it to you like this, I feel like the whole nature of the press has changed in the last few years, and I feel like we live in a click world where it really don’t matter whether you like something or don’t like something. The question is, did you click on it? And when you click on it, and you vote for it, that’s what is given prominence in our society. So it’s, ‘Can you cause a spectacle?’ — whether it’s positive attention or negative attention. So I don’t know if all press is good press, but in this climate, you need all the clicks you can get.

Catch Daniel and J. August in “Notorious” Thursdays at 9/8c on ABC. You can get caught up with the series premiere episode here.


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