Archie Panjabi interview
(Photo by: Peter Stranks/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock)

Interview: Archie Panjabi Discusses Departure Season 2 on Peacock

(Photo by: Peter Stranks/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock)

The second season of the drama series Departure is now streaming on Peacock. The series stars Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife), the late Christopher Plummer (Knives Out), Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kris Holden-Ried (The Umbrella Academy), and more.

“Season 2 follows Kendra Malley (Emmy award winner Archie Panjabi) as she’s recruited to investigate a new transportation disaster – the derailment of an experimental high-speed train in rural Michigan,” reads the official synopsis. “Pressure mounts for Kendra and her team to crack the puzzle as the small town reels in shock, and the world demands answers. Their investigation reveals a plethora of disconnected events and a range of potential suspects with believable motives: a disillusioned employee, a local anti-technology politician, the tech mogul who developed the train’s software…and even a man with ties to a Mexican drug cartel. As she works to sort through the chaos, Kendra must reckon with the inner tension that emerges between the investigation and her emotions.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Panjabi about her lead role in Departure, working with Plummer, and her versatile career.

Tyler Treese: Departure seems like such a perfect fit for streaming because an episode ends with a cliffhanger and you just want to keep watching. Are you excited that people won’t have to wait and they can kind of just watch the whole season all at once?

Archie Panjabi: Absolutely. I think this is very much that show. I read the script in one night. I watched it in one night, and I know the script inside out, and I just wanted to watch it in one day and everyone I’ve spoken to watched it last season and this season, say it’s a one-day show. You just have to watch it. You can’t sleep. You have to watch it to find out who’s responsible.

How fun is it getting to read the script? Because I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat reading through this and solving the mystery.

Completely. Whenever they send me the scripts, I get so frustrated because I’m like, can you just send me all six in one go or don’t send them to me because I sleep at night, I toss and turn until I know who has done it. I felt like that when they sent me the links, even though I knew who had done it, I just wanted to watch it. I mean, that’s the strength of the show is it just keeps you guessing to the very end. Even when you get to the very end, it’s not what you expected.

This season deals with this high-speed train crash and you’re investigating it. What’s your prep like for a project like this? Do you learn some about the transportation that it’s focused on or is it mostly on the investigative side?

Well, I mean, it’s so thoroughly researched. So by the time I get the script and the jargon of the mechanics of it, it’s all stuff that has been so well researched, but when I read it, I understand it, but I can always find out or chat to an accident investigator or research it. So I definitely do have to do some research just to make sure that the jargon and the technicalities feel like they’re coming from me and I’m not just some actor picking up a script and throwing those names around. Then obviously there’s the character driven stuff. The relationships that she forms with the characters and in this particular instance with Ellen Hunter or with the runaway prisoner, the young child Lucas, Theo, Charlotte, and I love character driven stuff. So I spend probably about 75% on researching the character or just writing notes for the characters. Then about 25% on the technical stuff.

One of the things I really enjoyed about this season is it feels so fresh since it’s dealing with a different case. We have this whole new cast of characters. There’s still some familiar faces, including yourself. Does having a bunch of new actors in the cast keep the filming experience really feel fresh?

Both. It’s nice seeing so many new faces and this time Mark [Rendall] was there, Kris [Holden-Ried] was there. It’s nice to see so many faces, but it’s also nice to meet new people. I was really thrilled this season as Kendra got to have some female relationships, which I really like. They brought on Karen LeBlanc, who is fantastic and I loved working with her. She plays Ellen Hunter, the FBI lady, and I loved playing around with that relationship as I did with the wonderful Kelly McCormack who is phenomenal. It’s just nice to have a mixture of both, I think.

So the first season we had the plane. Second season, we had this high-speed train. If there’s a third season, what kind of transportation is going to go awry? Is it going to be a submarine? What do you think?

I feel like water would be the obvious choice because we’ve done air and rail. They’ve got helicopter. I mean, there’s so many different options. I think that’s what’s so great about this franchise is that the opportunities are endless.

This season’s also a very good starting point because even if you didn’t actually see the first season, it is its own story.. there are callbacks and it’s best watching both seasons, but I thought it was interesting how it’s kind of its own standalone thing still.

Absolutely. I think that’s what makes it fun to do it. We filmed the six episodes in one go. So that’s quite exciting, but also challenging because you really have to know everything that happened. I think if we were to continue from this after a few months, we will forget where we left. So it’s quite nice to have a standalone season.

I imagine it’s an honor getting to work with the late Christopher Plummer. Can you speak to just getting the work with him and how he was on set?

He was wonderful to us. I tell most of the journalists I’ve been speaking with today that I felt an instant connection with him when I met him and that just grew and became stronger and stronger over the whole two years. The relationship between Kendra and Howard definitely reflected the depth of the bond that I myself felt with Christopher. Those string of phone calls that you see was hard to do, particularly the last one. He was magnificent. He’s a phenomenal actor. He’s one of those rare actor that has this incredible power to, and he’s just so captivating and there’s a lot of good actors, but there’s very few that are as captivating as him. When he’s on screen, you listen to every word that he utters and can’t take your eyes off him.

In this show, a lot of the scenes are phone calls. Are those difficult to shoot compared to physically interacting with someone since somebody has to film their part first?

Sure. I think it would be difficult to film, and I did have reservations about them when I read the script, but I think because I know Christopher well and he knows me well, I think we both knew how the other person would play the scene. So they turned out to not be that difficult to film and in watching them, when I saw the first cut of it, I was amazed at how powerful they actually were considering both of us were not speaking to each other. I think that is a testament to just understanding each other, knowing each other and probably correctly predicting how the other person would deliver their lines.

Archie Panjabi interview
(Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Shaftesbury/Greenpoint Productions/Peacock)

You had a fantastic role in Bend it Like Beckham, and that film is still so beloved nearly 20 years later. A film leaving such a lasting impact like that, what does that mean to you that people still praise it to this day?

Well, you know, there’s so much as you must be aware of yourself, there’s so much on the market and there are so many channels and so many TV shows. I can’t keep up with them and I don’t know how anybody does. So when somebody remembers me from something 20 years ago, I feel honored. I feel very honored by that.

You had a great guest appearance in the Star Wars: The Bad Batch. How cool was it for you to be involved in that franchise, and do you want to do more voice acting in the future?

That was really fun to do. I was in Germany at the time and I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, my character got killed off. She died, but I was always told that. I love doing voice. I’ve been doing voice for quite a few years now, different projects. But I love getting, I think it is really challenging because you don’t have the hair, the makeup, the costumes, and the light. You’re completely dependent on your voice and transform yourself and to convince millions of people that you’re somebody else. I think it’s great fun to do.

One of those projects I saw you did some work on Dead Space Extraction. How did that come together?

That’s right. That was many, many years ago. That was a great experience. I was in England, but again, another one of those experiences where I’d never done anything like that. That was about 15 years ago. I’m surprised and impressed that you know that.

Would you ever want to do more video games?

Of course, what I love about my profession is, you know, the variety in being able to do different things. It is so much more exciting than playing the same character through the same media. Absolutely. Yes.


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