Fisher Stevens on Palmer, Producing Tiger King, and Succession Season 3

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Plus, how he’s currently working on a documentary about The Lincoln Project.

While some that work in the entertainment industry stay in certain lanes, Fisher Stevens has spent his career driving down a different path. Whether it be acting, directing, producing, making documentaries, or even his stage work, Stevens has spent the past four decades jumping from project to project without missing a beat. With his newest project, the movie Palmer, now streaming on AppleTV+, I recently landed an extended interview with Stevens.

If you haven’t seen the trailers, the film stars Justin Timberlake as Eddie Palmer, a former high-school football star and ex-convict who finds himself living with the grandmother (June Squibb) who raised him while haunted by his past glory days in high school. While attempting to rebuild his life, his grandmother’s neighbor (Juno Temple) goes on an prolonged bender which causes Palmer to help out with her gender non-conforming son Sam (Ryder Allen). As time passes, Palmer is drawn into Sam’s world and an inspiring and unexpected journey unfolds.

During the wide-ranging interview, Stevens talked about the challenges of making Palmer, how and when he found out Timberlake would be in the movie, how he knew that Ryder Allen was the one to play Sam, how he wanted to take what he learned making docs and put it into his fictional work, how it’s a story of hope and people that come together, and more. In addition, he talked about producing Tiger King and how that project happened, how he ended up making documentaries, the way he got cast in Succession and how filming has been going on Season 3, how he’s currently filming a doc on The Lincoln Project, and so much more.

Check out what he had to say in the player above and below is the list of everything we talked about followed by the official synopsis for Palmer.

palmer-Ryder Allen Fisher Stevens
Image via AppleTV

Fisher Stevens:

  • How did he manage to pull off being an actor, director, producer, and on the stage?
  • Talks about how he ended up producing documentaries and going to film school.
  • Does he notice a difference in audiences when doing theater work depending on where it is?
  • Which of his documentaries was the hardest to get made?
  • How he funded the Carrie Fisher/Debbie Reynolds doc Bright Lights on his own and then pitched it to HBO.
  • Why feature films are difficult to get funded.
  • How Palmer was the toughest thing to get off the ground.
  • When did he realize they had something special with Tiger King and how did that project end up happening?
  • Did Netflix call after the success of Tiger King and say what’s next?
  • How did he get involved on Succession?
  • Did he notice before the pandemic that people always wanted to talk to him about Succession when he was in public?
  • Where are they in the filming of Succession Season 3?
  • Why did he want to direct Palmer and how did he get involved?
  • Talks about how he landed Justin Timberlake and the process of trying to land a star to get the financing.
  • How he wanted to take what he learned making docs and put it into his fictional work.
  • How did he know that Ryder Allen was the one to play Sam?
  • Where and when did he learn Justin Timberlake had said yes to the role?
  • The message of Palmer.
  • Is it nice to not have to worry about the opening weekends box office?
  • How Apple is selective about what they will put on their platform.
  • Did he have a much longer cut of the movie?
  • Why did he want to make a documentary about The Lincoln Project?
  • How they’ve been filming the doc since September 1, 2020.
  • What is the plan for release?
  • What else is he working on?
  • Was it scripted for Palmer not to talk much in the movie?
palmer-Justin Timberlake Ryder Allen
Image via AppleTV

Here’s the official synopsis for Palmer:

Former high-school football star Eddie Palmer (Justin Timberlake) went from hometown hero to convicted felon, earning himself twelve years in a state penitentiary. He returns home to Louisiana, where he moves back in with Vivian (June Squibb), the grandmother who raised him. While trying to keep his head down and rebuild a quiet life for himself, Palmer is haunted by memories of his glory days and the suspicious eyes of his small town community. Things become more complicated when Vivian’s hard-living neighbor Shelly (Juno Temple) disappears on a prolonged bender, leaving her precocious and unique 7-year-old son Sam (Ryder Allen), often the target of bullying, in Palmer’s reluctant care. In time, Palmer is drawn into a more hopeful world as he forges a connection with Sam through their shared experience of being made to feel different by those around them. Life improves for Palmer, and a romance develops between him and Sam’s teacher Maggie (Alisha Wainwright). An inspiring and unexpected journey unfolds for the three of them, but soon Palmer’s past threatens to tear apart this new life.

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palmer-Ryder Allen Juno Temple
Image via AppleTV

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