Sunday, May 16, 2021

‘Dispatches From Elsewhere’ Star Cherise Booth Takes Us Inside the Mind of Her Mysterious Character Lee [EUR Exclusive]

Dispatches from Elsewhere
Cast of Dispatches from Elsewhere: Jason Segel, Eve Lindley, Andre 3000 and Sally Field.

*AMC’s “Dispatches From Elsewhere” is the type of show that piques your curiosity with it’s intriguing previews, and once you settle down to give the series a go, you become visually arrested by the mysterious plot and captivating  characters — each of whom you can relate to on some level. 

Not to mention that Andre 300 from Outkast co-stars as Fredwynn, an obsessive conspiracy theorist who is one of four ordinary people who feels there’s something missing in their lives, but they can’t quite put their finger on what it is. 

If you haven’t experience this show, it centers on this diverse foursome “who are brought together by chance – or perhaps it’s by design – when they stumble onto a puzzle hiding just behind the veil of everyday life. As they begin to accept the mysterious ‘Dispatches from Elsewhere’ challenges, they come to find that the mystery winds deeper than they imagined, and their eyes are opened to a world of possibility and magic,” via official plot. 

“Dispatches From Elsewhere” is based on a real game in San Francisco in 2008 where the fictional Jejune Institute recruited members into its mysterious organization. 

The 10-hour AMC series was created by and starring Jason Segel, and also features Academy and Emmy Award-winner Sally Field, Academy Award-nominee Richard E. Grant, and rising transgender star Eve Lindley.

Actress Cherise Booth plays the seemingly sinister Lee, whose motivations are unclear, but if you’ve been following along so far, she seems to know more about the meaning of the puzzle then she lets on.

We caught up with Booth to dish about her character looming in the background of Dispatches. Check out our Q&A below. 

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So, what’s Lee’s attraction to the Jejune Institute? 

BOOTH: The JeJune Institute is an institute that has the ability to reach a very wide audience, it has the financial capabilities and the research resources to develop all of these technologies that are about connecting people in various ways and enhancing the lives of people and so Lee’s liaison with the JeJune Institute is that it allows her to reach out to as many people as possible and involve them in this experience that is happening, dispatches from elsewhere.

This idea of a mysterious entity providing a “magical experience” for folks who believe they are living a mundane existence, I find quite captivating. I would love to participate. What say you? Is this adventure one you would embark on in real life? 

BOOTH: That’s a really interesting question, I think initially I would be a little wary, like Cherise, and then I think I would really illicit support and courage from friends, and then if I had a friend that would do it with me, I would do it with a friend. I feel like the characters in the show have a courage and a curiosity in them that I really admire for going on this journey and I feel like their courage grows throughout the journey as they go through these different layers of experience as the episodes go on. Every time I see another episode I’m like “You’re gonna go in there? Really? You’re gonna go in that room? You don’t know what’s behind that door though! “

If you could pick three celebrities to play along with you, be your companions in this journey (much like Peter and his gang) who would you choose?

BOOTH: I think Issa Raye would be fun to go on this experience with, she might be like “I ain’t going through that door! You go through the door!” She might send me through the door! I could see Kerry Washington being very smart about things and figuring stuff out and sort of taking a moment to think about things. I think she would be very analytical about how things were coming together. 

I would take Tyler Perry as one of my companions.

BOOTH: I see the Madea character coming in, that’s all I can see, of course Tyler is Tyler, but that is all I could see, that would be a very wild ride. (later during our conversation, Booth also notes that Idris Alba or Jordan Peele would make perfect companions, to which I note “Idris would keep you safe.”)

Who does she think is the most savvy of the group? Fredwynn?

BOOTH: I mean when you’re asking about Lee wanting to keep an eye on this group, I think the one she is keeping an eye on the most is Fredwynn because from day one he sat down in that induction chair, he was questioning everything and he was knocking down ideas that were placed in front of him as simple and ineffectual and he could see through this and that, and so he is always looking to undermine the game in a way where a lot of the other participants are just going along and participating, what’s the next clue, let’s go, okay let’s follow it here, and Fredwynn is really trying to pick apart the entire structure that has been put together for this game. 

I think he’s the one, whereas with the others, I feel like Lee can observe them and take in how they are doing within the game and see how the game is working on them, the experience, what they are getting out of it. She can be a little less guarded and concerned.  I mean, Fredwynn jumps in the back of the limo… like, what are you doing? What do you hope to accomplish? He really keeps Lee on her toes because even in that moment when he jumps into the limo she is stunned for a moment and then she looks back and sees something and gets an idea. I think what Fredwynn does for Lee is just as the experience that everybody is experiencing as they go on this journey, things are surprising to them and things catch them off guard and they have to sort of catch up or to figure things out in the moment, Fredwynn does that for Lee in a way that I think none of the other participants in the game do.

There’s that moment with Fredwynn, where she gives him a signal that he’s on the right track with his investigation. Was she just toying with him or did she really have his back? 

BOOTH: I think there is a little bit of play there with Lee and this is my personal opinion, I feel like the fact that Fredwynn figured out where Lee was situated in her office, like the fact that he figured out how to find her, this dude is trouble! He’s a troublemaker in a way that Lee has to watch out for him and so not being face to face with him before that moment now being face to face with him she gets an opportunity to kind of like, hit back and give him a little tease like yeah there’s some stuff that you don’t even know. There’s more to discover in the journey and it’s sort of a tease like okay I see you and I’ll raise you. I’ll let you know  that I know you know but I am not going to be all bold in front of your friends.

Lee seems like she wants redemption for something in regard to Clara, what are some of the obstacles standing in Lee’s way in her quest for happiness?

BOOTH: I think it is revealed in the episode that Clara is the inspiration for the experience that Lee has constructed for all of these participants to embark on and Clara’s desire ( you know Lee listened to the tape she found in Clara’s basement), Clara’s desire is to do away with the falsehood that in our pain and our doubts and fears, we’re alone and that we all share that and also this loneliness and fear that we all share too, it doesn’t have to end there, that there is beauty that we can experience in life in the now, right where we are now, in this mundane world, we may see it as mundane but there is beauty all around in it.

We see in Clara’s episode how she worked to show that beauty to the folks in her town, the Fishtown, and if you listen to the other things that Clara is saying on the tape, she talks about not only wanting beauty and to show people something beautiful but she wants them to experience something so full that it kind of might even be disorienting and they may not even realize what is going on or what’s happening and the only thing that they can sort of reach out and hold on to, to kind of get their bearings is each other, so this experience as Lee is listening to this tape of Clara’s idea that she has of bringing people together, community, connection, she is starting to figure out how can I construct it, how can I make that, she’s looking around the city saying wow, look at this site, this would be a good place, the ideas are starting to percolate for Lee as she is inspired by Clara’s vision and so I think that the inner turmoil with Lee and I think more will be revealed is it really starts to deal with the idea that Clara has and Lee’s ability to allow that idea to manifest in a real way for people to experience real shifts and real change and real upliftment and real connection and whether or not she is going about it the right way, is her implementation working, is he on the flip side of things? Without revealing more I think that is part of what her inner turmoil is, I think a little bit more will be revealed.

How would you describe Lee’s dynamic with Peter and the gang as the series moves forward and reaches its conclusion?

BOOTH: I would say that their story with each other is not finished.

Missed an episode? Get caught up on the series via AMC.com, and tune-in to the season finale NEXT Monday at 10/9c.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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