The stars also opened up about tackling more timely and newsworthy topics this season, including COVID-19 and systemic racism.
Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon return as anchors Alex Levy and Bradley Jackson, respectively, in season two of The Morning Show on Apple TV+. The two leading ladies, as well as cast members Billy Crudup, Karen Pittman, Nestor Carbonell, Mark Duplass, Desean Terry, Hasan Minhaj and Julianna Margulies, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in the video (above) all about the new season of their award-winning series, which picks up nine months after the dramatic events of the season one finale.
“I think she has just taken some serious ‘me time’ and [is] having some deep reflection,” says Aniston of where her character, Alex, is at the beginning of season two compared to the end of season one. “She’s really just trying to take a hard look at what happened.”
Says Crudup of his character, Cory Ellison, “He has gone from being a person who is widely invested in disrupting the power structures that people take for granted to becoming a pillar of those power structures himself.”
“I feel like season one was all about the storm being the revolution and season two is now, ‘Ok, the revolution happened; who is in charge and what are the rules?’” says Witherspoon. “And, we’re all kind of navigating that as a group of co-workers, and just then all the other stuff that is happening in our personal lives is also all over the place.”
The drama about a morning news show once again tackles timely and newsworthy issues, as season two takes place during the first months of 2020 leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns in the U.S. The cast revealed what it was like to relive that time.
“It was juicy,” says Pittman, who plays Mia. “It was meaty. It sort of ripened the environment for us to get all the way through the season, because the audience knows what’s coming but none of the characters do.”
“It’s almost like you’re watching a horror film where the audience knows the monster is right around the corner, but the characters don’t,” said Duplass, who plays Chip. “It was a very clever way to approach it.”
“By the time we started shooting season two, we had to reshoot what we’d shot before,” says Carbonell, who plays Yanko. “We’d had to stop shooting, because of the shutdown naturally and that the writers had to go away, and [showrunner] Kerrey Ehrin and the writers had to re-conceive the entire second season, because we’re a topical show and they had to incorporate COVID into some fashion.”
“It was really surreal to then play a character who’s reporting on things that had such happened a few months ago,” said Minhaj, who plays newcomer Eric. “And so sometimes we would hit cut on a scene and I was like, ‘Wow, that was so four months ago, that was pretty wild.’”
This season also addresses the systemic racism within the culture at the morning news program’s home network, UBA. The stars opened up about the importance of addressing that topic this season.
“We are living through what was one of the greatest moments of racial reckoning in American history,” says Terry, who plays Daniel. “So, something that moved America and the world as much as it did, and a show that is talking about current topics … we needed to further the conversation.”
“It was just a ripe environment to get down to a nuanced conversation about what it looks like for people of color to be ‘chosen’ in this environment that is almost entirely white,” says Pittman. “And the pressures and the difficulties and challenges that they deal with in trying to be their best selves in the midst of what feels like to be a constant hostility being thrown at them on a day to day basis.”
While season two sees many actors from season one return to the show, like Pittman, Terry, Duplass and Carbonell, some new faces also join the cast this season, including Minhaj and Margulies. The former ER and The Good Wife star plays Laura Peterson, a news anchor who presents some challenges for Alex and Bradley.
“I think the biggest challenge my character poses to them is the fact that she has no skeletons in her closet and she’s completely comfortable in her skin,” says Margulies.
Both Alex and Bradley go on their own journeys this season of becoming comfortable in their skin and not caring so much about how they’re perceived by others. Given their decades-spanning careers, the stars opened up about when they hit that point in their own lives.
“I think it’s just a lifelong thing for me, too, like learning that I don’t have to please everybody, that I don’t have to make everybody happy, that you can’t make everybody happy,” says Witherspoon. “That’s such a journey and such an important place to land at … I remember a girlfriend saying to me, ’40 is so great, it’s going to just change your world.’ So maybe it was in my forties that I started to feel that way.”
“That’s a work in progress, always,” says Aniston. “I have to say, doing this show and playing a character who is going through as much as she is going through, and has to expose and be as raw as she is. And there is such a ‘F it,’ kind of mindset that she’s in, has been really liberating in a way.”
Watch the video above for more. The Morning Show’s 10-episode second season premieres Sept. 17 on Apple TV+ with new episodes rolling out weekly.