Mimi Leder serves as an executive producer and director on the acclaimed and award-winning Apple Original drama The Morning Show. Season two premiered Friday, September 17 on Apple TV+ and new episodes are released weekly, every Friday.
Picking up after the explosive events of season one, season two finds The Morning Show team emerging from the wreckage of Alex (Aniston) and Bradley’s (Witherspoon) actions, to a new UBA and a world in flux, where identity is everything and the chasm between who we present as and who we really are comes into play.
Leder and I discussed returning for a second season, new challenges she faced when directing during the pandemic, dealing with serious topics on the show, what The Morning Show has taught her, and more! Keep reading to find out everything she told me.
So first off, I want to ask how it felt to come back and get ready to do the new season?
Mimi Leder: Well, coming back for the second time, we had been shooting for 13 days and so then we came back, we shut down on March 12. Coming back was a humongous challenge with COVID protocols, epidemiologists, and a lot of training for how to shoot in this brave new world. So, for 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day, we got to — at first, it was very frightening to work in this world, but then things started to change. You kind of got used to wearing a mask, wearing a shield, how to talk to actors who are unmasked, and how to feel safe. Once we got over that and feeling safe, we really could dive into telling the stories we wanted to tell and it was a great escape living in the world we’re living in, getting to actually do what we love doing.
I’m sure there were specific challenges that you faced in terms of directing season two during COVID, what was that like?
Well, yes, this season was very specifically challenging because we couldn’t go to New York, we couldn’t go to Italy, we couldn’t go to Vegas, like we did last year. So, when we shot the Italian portion of the show, we shot it at Olvera Street downtown at Pico house, which is a historical street with cobblestones, and our production designer Nelson Coates dressed it incredibly authentically. We would CGI the tops of the buildings. Mitch’s Villa we shot in Sierra Madre. I hired a drone unit in Italy, we picked a peninsula we loved, we shot a drone unit here, and we placed our Villa there. We did a lot of sleight of hand with CGI and it was extremely challenging, but we were all in it together, trying to make the story seamless and without thinking about, “Hey, you’re shooting it during COVID,” you know? We tried to make it as authentic and real as we could.
Wow, you all did a fantastic job with that. I can imagine the work that went into it and it’s really interesting to hear you talk about all the different locations used.
Thank you. Yeah, it was like making ten movies, those ten episodes. The material is very dense, the material is beautifully written, the characters are deeply realized, if the first season was about Me Too then this is about identity, cancel culture, race, sexuality, self exploration, and self preservation. So we went on a journey together making this season.
What is it like to be part of a show that really deals with serious and important topics that are going to start conversations?
Yeah, well, you approach them with great authenticity and reality. You ground them and you keep them real. Then you get to do comedy in the middle of it, which is really the best form of drama is when you can laugh and cry.
The season one finale had an explosive ending, can you give me a preview of what fans can expect from the new season?
Season two picks up right where we left off, then it jumps eight months into the future, and then it jumps three months back from there. That sounds horribly confusing but when you watch it, you’ll get it. I think people who will be watching, will be surprised and hopefully, get into it as much as they did the first season.
What can you tease about the final episode of season two?
I think this season finale will take you on a ride and make you think a lot about where we are.
Is there an episode you’re most looking forward to fans seeing from this season?
I’m looking forward to fans seeing all of the episodes because they’re all unique and they’re all different. I have my favorites but I’m looking for forward to people reacting to all of them, because they’re all very special.
You have worked on many amazing projects, but is there a specific lesson from The Morning Show that you learned and kind of want to take with you going forward?
Yeah, I mean, I’ve learned a lot working on this project, especially during COVID. Working during COVID and working on a story that’s relevant and timely, I’ve learned just to take a deep breath, take care, and tell the most honest story you can tell. I’ve always tried to do that and working during COVID has made me feel and reflect on “Where am I going? What am I doing? What other stories do I want to tell? What is important in life?” This time period has made me think about that a lot.