‘Your Honor’ Star Michael Stuhlbarg on the ‘Commonalities’ Between Jimmy & Bryan Cranston’s Judge
The 10-episode legal drama from writer Peter Moffat centers around New Orleans judge Michael Desiato (Cranston) who is put in an unimaginable position when a hit-and-run accident involving his son Adam (Hunter Doohan) inextricably ties him to the city’s Baxter crime family led by Stuhlbarg’s Jimmy. Along with the compelling episodes, the DVD and Blu-ray will feature deleted scenes, one of which we’re sharing exclusively, above.
In celebration of the show’s latest release, TV Insider caught up with Stuhlbarg who is opening up about the connection between Jimmy and Michael, the criminal’s ties with his family, and more.
This show really makes you think. What initially drew you to the project and the role of Jimmy Baxter?
Michael Stuhlbarg: The prospect of working with Bryan Cranston, again, was a big draw for me. Bryan and I had worked on a film called Trumbo a few years back, also in New Orleans, funnily enough. He’s such a charismatic, natural leader, full of ideas, great energy, and he’s an amazing artist. So that opportunity was an exciting prospect for me. Also, I had seen the show The Night Of previously and was a fan, and the more I got to know about Peter Moffat, the more I became a fan of his. They were in a place with this character where they weren’t quite sure where they wanted him to be. I think they knew what they didn’t want him to be. So the prospect of getting in on the ground floor and creating with Peter [thrilled me].
Jimmy isn’t your typical “mobster.” The show really highlights his family-man status. Do you think that’s where he and Michael Desiato find a level of reliability?
Very much so. That’s an interesting point that you bring up. I felt that had this circumstance not occurred, these two could very easily have been friendly. There are a lot of commonalities there, and I think the juxtaposition of the two was really interesting to me.
In the final episode, Jimmy puts Michael into a frenzy, scaring him into thinking he might hurt Adam. Do you think he really would have hurt the teen?
I’d like to leave that up to the interpretation of the viewer. I think there are a number of things that can be read into it. One of the interesting things about working with Peter, in particular, was that in every episode he included huge amounts of what was going on in the spirit of the character, and things that weren’t necessarily going to be captured on screen, but they would help the actor motivate himself towards what a moment might be about. I’d like to believe that people could read different things into it.
Despite losing his son Rocco (Benjamin Wadsworth), did Jimmy get off a little too easily in the end?
Losing a child is no free ticket, and I think, considering the place we find him at the beginning of the story [as loving and fun]… we don’t get to see much of who he is. All we are privy to is a man in grief for the loss of his son. He seems to be on a wave of vengeance through most of the story, but I hope that peppered through that, one could see elements of who the man is behind the grief. We leave him where he ends up, but he was a victim at the very beginning. So I think he’s following through with what he believes is necessary to make his family a little more whole than they were.
You mentioned working with Bryan, was there anything else you did to build bonds with your costars behind the scenes?
Absolutely. Hope Davis and I took our [onscreen] children out to dinner a couple of times so that we could get to know each other, build up some comradery, talk about where each of our characters was coming from, and the journeys that have brought them to where our story began. And that’s so much the fun part of what we get to do. I remember Bryan saying to me how much he missed the comradery of all of us getting together and going out to meals and learning about each other away from the work. I just have the greatest respect for [all of them] and then getting to know them was such a treat.
One of Jimmy’s most redeeming qualities was his relationship with daughter Fia (Lilli Kay). Do you think that bond was stronger than his desire for revenge over Rocco’s death?
I think he would have done anything to make her happy. I think they both felt a great amount of loss and sorrow and grief for the absence of Rocco. He found himself in a very interesting place. It would have been a really fascinating dynamic to have welcomed Adam into the family, so to speak, and I felt like in a way, he was doing that when [the show ended].
Your Honor, Showtime, On Demand (Available on DVD and Blu-ray beginning June 15, 2021)