While “Love & Death” creator David E. Kelley was not aware of the plans for another retelling of the Candy Montgomery true crime case when filming started, he would have pursued the project even if he had known “Candy” was in the works at Hulu.
“We thought, and actually we were the first out of the gate with a miniseries, so we didn’t know the other project was coming into being,” Kelley told TheWrap. “If you had asked me, would we have done it, knowing that someone else was doing it first? They probably would have given me pause, but my answer at the end of the day would still be ‘yes,’ because I think the projects are very different.”
After Kelley and director Lesli Linka Glatter were separately sent John Bloom’s Texas Monthly reporting on the case and the book “Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs” — both of which the team owns the rights to — the collaboration bloomed. The pair found out about “Candy” two months into filming.
“That was a surprise,” Glatter told TheWrap. “But we just had to pursue our own path.”
“Love & Death,” which premiered Thursday, follows the horrific true crime story centered on Texas housewife and churchgoer Candy Montgomery, played by Elizabeth Olsen. While both “Love & Death” and “Candy” focus on the intricacies of the brutal murder of Betty Gore and the subsequent trial, Kelley notes that the HBO Max series’ focus on the characters sets its apart from its predecessors.
“What drew us primarily to this piece was the character work and the exploration of the characters and their respective pathologies, that’s where all the fun was,” Kelley continued. “I think this project does set itself apart from others in that we don’t think of it as true crime, so much as a true life story where [a] horrific crime happened.”
Drawing directly from the source material, Glatter recalled the duo responding to the material and its deep exploration of psychology and character “in the same way, for the same reason.”
“The fact that if this story wasn’t true, you couldn’t make out the circumstances around the story [was] so unusual,” Glatter said. “We wanted to stick to what those facts were, but have it be a character piece.”
Olsen takes on the complex role of Candy Montgomery, who seeks out an affair with fellow churchgoer Allan Gore (Jesse Plemons). Planning out their secret rendezvous detail by detail, Candy’s buttoned up suburban life begins to crash down on her when a violent crime ensues.
“Lizzie, as an actor, is so gifted and such a wonderful human, aside from her great skills, that she allows you to come in through her eyes and show us something about the human condition and how complicated that is,” Glatter said “It’s not one note; she’s not one thing — she is a multi-layered, fully faceted person in all the complications.”
The first 3 episodes of “Love & Death” are now streaming on HBO Max, and subsequent episodes premiere weekly.