‘A Million Little Things’: Allison Miller on Directing, Maggie & Gary, and More

Allison Miller directing A Million Little Things
ABC/Darko Sikman

Allison Miller (who stars as Maggie) makes her TV directorial debut with the April 27 episode of A Million Little Things, and it was something that she’d been wanting to do since last season.

And while she says every scene was her favorite, “60 Minutes” also challenged her when it came to “trying to weave together these multiple storylines,” she shares with TV Insider. Gary (James Roday Rodriguez) hits “some big roadblocks” while trying to meet a big deadline, while Eddie (David Giuntoli) is in for a surprise at Katherine’s (Grace Park) house, and Rome (Romany Malco) struggles to connect with some students.

Miller takes us inside directing the episode.

How did you directing this episode come about?

Allison Miller: I had been talking to [creator] DJ [Nash] and our producing director about wanting to direct this season since the very beginning, since before we started filming. Well, actually since Season 3. I had put my hat in the ring and then I just kind of kept harassing them politely without any sort of HR involvement, and I got a phone call from DJ on December 2 saying that a space had opened up and 417 was available, should I want to direct it. And I ran through the streets of Vancouver shrieking with joy and said yes.

And how did the episode challenge you as a director?

Trying to weave together these multiple storylines and figure out the overall theme of the episode and make a smooth connection between everyone’s individual stories was a challenge because we don’t have a lot of interaction. Every character is on their own journey in this episode, so I was challenged to find a way to make it all cohesive and to keep everyone together as the friend group while they’re exploring their own storylines.

Allison Miller directing Romany Malco in A Million Little Things

ABC/Darko Sikman

Maggie and Gary seem settled and mature in their relationship in a way it feels we haven’t seen them before since getting back together. Why do you think they seem able to make it work this time?

They have worked through a lot of the shared trauma that they have and they have come out on the other side. They’ve explored other relationships, and I think those relationships, while good and worthwhile, showed them that what they have is incredibly special and it’s not to be disregarded.

Talk about directing your castmates.

Having been in scenes with everyone, I know how most of them work. I know how they like to work. I know what they require from a director, and so I was able to walk in and do my best to provide that, and we also had new actors that I had never worked with, and so adding them into the fold was a really fun challenge. We have such an incredible cast that it was not a difficult job.

What was your favorite scene to direct?

I had a lot of fun with Rome in the classroom and I had a lot of fun with Gary and his journey. I loved working with Christina [Moses] and Andrea [Navedo] — Regina and Val and Tyrell [Adam Swain]. Their storyline was so rich, it just had every emotional beat that you could want to hit as a director. … We went everywhere, and it was really fun. I loved the location days. The gas station in particular was one of my favorite things to shoot. It was a really good entrée into TV directing because I got to try out so many different locations, different actors, different camera moves, everything.

DJ made his directorial debut a couple episodes ago, and David directed the episode after yours. Is there anything you can share about conversations you had with either or both of them about directing?

It was great having DJ direct before us because we got to hear this perspective on things, and it was interesting because he’s used to being in the writers room and in LA and we’re on set, so we already have pretty different perspectives and so hearing what he learned while he was here was really helpful for me and for David. It was nice to be able to bounce things off of other people who were newer to television directing.

A Million Little Things, Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC