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A Conversation with Chris O’Dowd for FAMILY TREE

24 Hours In London
24 September 2013

From the mind that brought you This is Spinal Tap and Best in Show comes an eccentric new comedy about one man’s mission to find himself, one relative at a time, as Family Tree arrives on DVD from 23 September 2013 from Universal Pictures (UK).

This off-the-wall hit HBO series is comprised of 10 x half hour, single camera episodes that give the show trademark spoof documentary awkwardness, with added satirical humour.

The Chadwick family are brought to life by largely improvised performances from an ensemble case of comedy greats including Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids, The Sapphires, The IT Crowd) as protagonist Tom Chadwick, Tom Bennett (Midsummer Murders, Eastenders) as his best friend; BAFTA winner Nina Conti (For Your Consideration, Holby City) as his quirky sister Bea; and Michael McKean (Murder She Wrote, Homeland, The Adventures of Superman) as his British soap loving father. Supporting roles from Ed Begley, Jr. (Pineapple Express, This is Spinal Tap, Arrested Development) as Dr. Al Chadwick, Tom’s third uncle and Fred Willard (Best in Show, Modern Family, Everybody Loves Raymond) as Mike Morton Al’s crude neighbour.

FAMILY TREE follows the unusual life of 30 year old Tom Chadwick, who has recently lost his job and girlfriend and inherits a mysterious box of belongings from a great aunt that he never met. Deciding to embark on his own journey of self discovery he starts investigating his family lineage and uncovers a whole world of unusual stories and characters and a growing sense of who he is and who his family are.

FAMILY TREE features side-splitting bonus features including hilarious deleted scenes, a brilliant soundtrack composed by Christopher Guest and the full spoof television programmes used in the show.



What’s the story behind the show?

Family Tree is a comedy about a guy who’s been left somewhat berefted, if that’s even a word, by losing his job and his partner and is left a box of magic goodies by a relative that he can’t remember ever meeting. But it does peek his interest when he goes looking into his past and his roots and he finds he has somewhat of a muddled up past himself. He has an Irish mum and English dad and they split up so he’s kind of lived in both places so he doesn’t really know who he is, so in some kind of search for his own identity he goes looking into his family tree.


Describe the character you play, Tom Chadwick?

I think he’s fairly sensitive, he is fairly confused, he’s probably not the most extroverted kind of guy, but he’s fine. He is kind of the straight man in this story, and he’s more the eyes of the audience than the guys who’s cracking all the jokes. But, I kind of feel as someone who moves from country to country an awful lot and doesn’t live in the country of my birth I kind of feel attached to the identity confusion that that can arouse in a person.


Tom Bennett plays your best friend Pete in the programme, what’s he like?

Pete’s just so excitable and I think that’s what Tom likes about him. Even though we’ve grown apart over the years we were very good friends growing up. I love his enthusiasm and it’s very rare that I feel like I’m the most intelligent person in the room, and with Pete that will always be the case.



Tell us about your relationship with sister Bea…

I think we have a pretty good relationship. She’s much less interested in the whole family tree thing and I’m probably not as supportive of her decision to go into the entertainment industry with monkey as a children’s entertainer because he’s filthy.


What was it that drew you to working on the show?

Christopher Guest, more than anything I’m just such a big fan of his and I love  a bit of improv and because this was an improv piece I thought it would be a challenge, which it’s proving to be on a daily basis. But I’m loving it, that was the big draw, I just hate learning lines, so boring, so I thought this would be great and it felt like there wasn’t anything like it on TV at the moment so I was interested because of that.


How do you think people will react to the show?

I think it will be very interesting to watch, I think it will be enjoyable to watch, it’s hard for us to tell as we shoot so much stuff and there is so much improvisation, it’s hard to tell what the show will be as it were, but it is like throwing a can of paint at a wall and seeing what sticks, but hopefully the paint will be funny.



Chris O’Dowd Photos