ComingSoon spoke to The Pentaverate stars Ken Jeong and Debi Mazar about Mike Myers’ upcoming Netflix comedy series. The six-episode show premieres will release on May 5, 2022, and features Myers playing a total of eight characters.
“What if a secret society of five men has been working to influence world events for the greater good since the Black Plague of 1347?” asks the official synopsis. “As this new series begins, one unlikely Canadian journalist finds himself embroiled in a mission to uncover the truth and just possibly save the world himself. Remember, the Pentaverate must never be exposed!”
Tyler Treese: Ken, I was really curious as a comedian yourself, what was it like working with a master of this craft in Mike Myers? I’m sure there are little things you can pick up on when it comes to comedy that maybe viewers don’t. What makes him so special?
Ken Jeong: I mean, that’s the reason why I did it. Because I would’ve played any role. I just wanted to work with Mike. We are friends, and I’ve known him for a couple of years, but I was just jumping at this opportunity. So when he wrote this character for me, I was jumping at that chance, but honestly, I would’ve played anything he wanted me to do and he knows. When he asked me to jump, I’m like, “How high?” I just wanted to watch his process playing eight characters. That’s the reason why I did it was just to watch Mike’s process.
What I’ve learned is, well, Debi actually has an even more central role in the Pentaverate, and it’s just great to hear her interpretation of this process, but just to be immersed in eight different characters, it’s not about comedy, it’s just all just an acting exercises. It’s about commitment to character. It’s about keeping it grounded, commitment to scene work, and then doing it over and over, and over again. A kind of a rinse, repeat, washing it over and over and over again with the same commitment each and every time. Different dialects, not just voices, but just different mindsets. So it truly is one of my favorite things I’ve ever done in my career. If not for just the sole purpose of watching Mike at work and it was pure joy. I just went home smiling every single day on set for real. It was lovely.
Debi, I’d love to hear just what it was like interacting with Myers doing all these different characters.
Debi Mazar: Well, first of all, when I received the call that Mike was interested in talking to me about it, I was like, “Wow! So cool!” Because obviously, I’m a fan. I worked with him on So I Married an Axe Murderer a million years ago. And I was a little bit nervous because I was playing a character that he was supposed to be playing. He was very generous. And when I got onto this set, watching him do eight different characters, me walking around this huge, Star Trek kind of table in this big, big room on the sound stage … watching every time he would change characters, different prosthetic, different variations on improvisation, new jokes, passing on information to Ken, to Keegan, to me, “Oh, I’ve cut this line. I want you to put this scene in.”
Like his mind is always working, always thinking, even when he is in character, and he stays in character, by the way. He’ll speak with Lord Lordington’s accent all day long, you know? And you’re wondering who you’re gonna get on that day. But he’s so generous and so lovely. He wanted just the best for the project, but I was just honored to be there because I normally do film and television, but I do drama, comedy, and some improv. But working with these guys who are masters at stand-up and sketch comedy, and Mike who’s, you know, the God of it all, we’re just like, “Whoa!” So for me, I jumped into a genre and then into an alternate universe, where I have to kind of keep it real and believe everything that I’m saying.
And also do the research because all of it’s kind of real anyway, in theory and conceptually… humanity, existence, the future, secret societies, I mean all this hypothetically exists, right? So to keep it real, and working with Mike was just … it was a lot of fun. It was like three months of playing, of an exercise, and working with brilliant talent. Which extended to the director to the set design, the green screen, the special effects, the actors that stood in the background in gladiator uniforms or crazy outfits. It was a very physical performance for all of us. It all went really fast and it was a ride that I’ll never forget, and I’m forever grateful to Mike for giving me the opportunity.
Ken, you get to play just the most obnoxious billionaire. It’s always great when you have a lot of nuance, but you get to go so over the top, how fun is that?
Jeong: It was just pure joy. I think Debi had previously said [that] you kind of want to impress your boss, you know? You’re doing stuff to see if you can make Mike laugh. There were some takes where I’m just doing it for me and just to see if I could just…
Mazar: Get away with it! And he did, by the way!
Jeong: Yeah, if I could just make Mike laugh, it is just pure joy and it’s heaven when you get to. What I love about Mike’s process … if there is a good scene, I’ve seen multiple times with you, I’ve never experienced it on set, he’ll just burst out in applause after a great take, you know?
Jeong: He did that routinely.
Mazar: He always clapped!
Jeong: Always clapped! And it was so loving. You know, I’ve worked on so many comedies where you have these amazing takes, but you don’t have time. You’re like, “Okay, that was genius. Moving on, check the gates.” Even if it was like, perfect. “Oh, it was great. I never laughed harder in my life. Moving on. That was great.” So that’s what you usually get, but Mike just takes the time to smell the roses. He set the tone the whole time. It really honestly was like being in this summer conservatory in London where we filmed.
Mazar: I want to go back to that school!
Jeong: I do! I wanna go back to that school!