(This story contains spoilers for the season finale of Mr and Mrs Smith.)
Prime Video downloaded all eight episodes of Mr and Mrs Smith on February 2, and given the short run and relatively propulsive nature of the spy drama, it’s likely that more than a few viewers have followed the entire series.
That’s what showrunner and co-creator Francesca Sloane had in mind for the new series starring Donald Glover and Maya Erskine. “As I get older, there’s something really refreshing about telling the story and watching it when you feel like you want to sit down and spend time in that world,” Ella Sloane says. “In that sense, I think it lends itself very naturally to being binge-watching.”
For those who binged, they were treated to an incredible, open-ended ending. In the final hour, John (Glover) and Jane (Erskine) briefly disagree before a second pair of Smiths (Wagner Moura and Parker Posey) attempt to eliminate them. It turns out that the “high-risk” assignments these other Smiths teased about in episode four are killing every John and Jane who fall out of favor with the clandestine spy organization that employs them all. It offers a little more context to the brutal opening scene of the first episode, but not much clarity about what the future potentially holds. Our main John is last seen bleeding out, while the two Janes exchange shots off-camera. Anyone, it seemed, could be dead or alive.
Below, Sloane breaks down the thought process behind that ambiguous ending, talks about casting the first season’s slew of guest stars, and reflects on what’s potentially in store for us, should there be a second season.
Their list of guest stars in these eight episodes is a little crazy. Which of them did you write for and who came on board after you had the scripts?
The guest stars make my teenager want to fall and die. We wrote Bev for Michaela Coel. She’s friends with Donald, so she received the script ahead of time and, thank God, she wanted to come on board. For Toby, Ron Perlman happens to be my father-in-law. I definitely thought about him for that role, just because I thought it would be fun to take this classic character actor who’s been the “Take that, motherfucker” tough guy and put him in the role of a giant baby. What better person for that than Ron? Other than that, the roles came first and then the casting happened after the fact.
Looks like you got who you wanted.
For someone like Paul Dano, who played Hot Neighbor, that really was a head-scratcher at first. Everyone assumed that he was supposed to be an actor from a Marvel movie, but that character was more about showing that Jane has a specific taste. It’s not about who is attractive to everyone, but who is attractive to Jane. Who’s a little mysterious (maybe to other people, creepy) and not so funny with a capital C? And Paul Dano is handsome! But he is someone’s specific taste.
Casting the other John and Jane also turned out to be more important than viewers probably thought when we first saw them.
We knew that the other John had to be someone with charisma that Donald himself admired and maybe felt a little intimidated by. Wagner Moura really helped that dynamic. Donald was totally in love with him, like all of us. Another Jane, I just knew it had to be someone who, like Maya, people initially identify with comedy but who has so much more to it. She wanted someone with a legacy that Maya could look up to. Nobody fits in better than a Parker Posey. We really wanted to make sure we found character actors who made the world feel grounded, but at the same time had a camp and fun glint in their eyes.
In retrospect, we have to assume that it was Parker’s Jane who eliminated Alexander Skarsgård and Eiza González in the opening sequence of the first episode.
And casting Alexander and Eiza was about, “Who would you expect to star in this show if it ended up in other people’s hands?” Then we tried to change that immediately in a matter of minutes, once we got into Mayan history.
How many Johns and Janes are there in this world you created?
It’s endless. Anyone could be John and Jane.
What do you want people to take away from the ending? It doesn’t look good, but it’s also… TV.
We wanted to make sure it felt like a complete story, even with the ending as it is. We watched a lot of movies from the 70s. I love the way a lot of movies ended. The graduate It has one of those endings that is still satisfying without giving you everything. We feel like there’s a beautiful whole story here in that sense. That said, we’ve definitely already started discussing ideas for season two…in the world we do one. We would never want to do a second season if we couldn’t kick ourselves in the butt, in terms of finishing the first season. So it really depends. We’ll see what life has to offer, but we definitely have some interesting ideas.
But is there talk of a second season?
Definitely. It really depends on how everything is received. Of course, while you’re busy doing something so difficult, you don’t even allow yourself to fantasize about the future. It’s just about trying to get to the end. But now that we’ve all done it, it’s like childbirth. I love the baby! So, there’s talk of season two and we have some really interesting ideas for it. I am collaborating with Donald and Taofik Kolade, who wrote in atlanta with us. He’s amazing and I think he’d be a great addition vocally…if we move forward. We’ll see.
By the way, I was pleasantly surprised that you chose a Relatively dark Cardigans track to start that fight sequence.
I appreciate that you know they’re The Cardigans. That will make Donald happy too. While we were doing the show, Donald and I were John and Jane together, just sending each other playlists. That song was sent around a lot. I really wanted that one to be in that section in the final. It was Donald’s choice.
Mr and Mrs Smith is now streaming the first season on Prime Video.