John Turturro and Zach Cherry Talk About Severance’s Work-Life Balance


The newly-promoted Mark Scout (Adam Scott), is placed in charge of a team of workers whose memories have been surgically split between their work and personal lives. Work-life balance has never felt so scarily disconnected. That is until the arrival of a new employee, who shakes up their functional world and causes a spill-over between realities. Severance is Apple TV Plus’s latest addition to their mantle of excellence, bringing the ‘panic!’ to the workplace. 

In this Goggler exclusive, we spoke to stars John Turturro and Zach Cherry about the dynamics of work-life balance in the age of the pandemic and whether previous job experiences were pivotal to character-building.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: There is an added strangeness to watching Severance right now, especially when I only have to walk 10 feet between where I sleep, eat, work and unwind for the day. And if you wouldn’t mind a philosophical question, I was wondering, do you guys think the ethical question is going to hit people differently now, given that work and life and play is all just meshed? 

John Turturro: Well, we were going to start it right when the pandemic happened and then it got postponed. And then it got postponed for quite a while. And then I had to go do another job. And there were no vaccines or anything like that back then. And when we went back to work, we weren’t imagining how it’s going to land because we didn’t know how things were going to continue at that time.

Obviously it affected us when we were working. We had all these restrictions and had to come in early every day, and it was hard. Here you were working with all these people, people who helped dress you, and you never saw their face. One day, one of the ladies took her mask down, and it was like so much information. I was like, “Oh my God, you have a face.” 

JT: But to answer your question, I didn’t think about how it would land now because we were living through it. I don’t know how it projected. But that was how I felt at the time.

Zach Cherry: I didn’t think much about how it would land. Our characters, they only exist at work. They never leave work. It always feels like they’re at work. And like you were saying, during some of the more restrictive times during the pandemic, I wasn’t leaving my apartment very much. So everything was kind of in this very small world. So I certainly related to that element and had a more direct personal experience when I was going into making this. 

UA: Despite being dystopian and extreme, Severance is nevertheless a pretty relatable satire on work and corporations. I’m sure many people will see themselves in this show as workers. Have you ever felt like that at a job, and did you use any of those real world experiences as an inspiration to build your characters?

ZC: I had a sort of  desk job where the office I was in – I’m pretty sure – used to be a closet. It was a very small room, it had a kind of a window, but it only looked at a brick wall. So I certainly used those elements. I was like, “Oh yeah, I get that.” And there were times when I understood the appeal of being able to “sever.” So I did draw on that era of my life. 

JT: I was a service bartender for a long time and it was like a prison. Basically, I liked the waitresses and the staff, but not the owners. I was really small, and I was the maître d’. And I was always doing shows for free at night and stuff. So you’re always planning, dreaming about your escape, or fantasising, if you had a moment to fantasise. I was like, “I am not going to be standing behind this cash register, behind this bar, for the rest of my life”, I’ve got to get out. But “how” is the question? You know what I mean? I’m going to break out. 

JT: I remember that job because my bosses were really, really mean to me. They weren’t like Severance exactly, but I had to write on a blackboard. I had also worked as a schoolteacher and I learned how to do that. But at this particular time, you had to really use the chalk with a heavy hand. And they didn’t like the way I wrote on the blackboard, even though my handwriting was really neat. They would let me do the entire menu, and then they would erase it. They were really, really cruel guys. Both of them. And for years, I wanted to get my revenge on them. But I remember when I left, I was the head bartender by then, and I gave them ten minutes notice. I just said, “I’m leaving.” And they asked, “When? In a couple of weeks? And I said, “no, right now, this is my last day.” And I had my money in my hand. And I remember that feeling. So yes, I think everyone experiences that in some way. Depending on the work that you did.

You can also listen to our podcast review of Severance here on The Goggler Podcast.

Severance is now streaming on Apple TV Plus.

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