‘Avenue 5’s Suzy Nakamura on Iris Unraveling & Panic in the Season Finale

Suzy Nakamura Avenue 5 Season 1 Finale Preview
Alex Bailey/HBO

The passengers and crew of Avenue 5 are panicking in the Season 1 finale as they face the possibility of being stuck on board for years, but at least the cast and everyone working on the show doesn’t have to worry.

That’s because the HBO comedy was renewed for a second season in February. “We have the best time making it,” Suzy Nakamura tells TV Insider. “We’re really enjoying becoming fans of the show because we immediately become audience members once the show starts. We forget we’re a part of it. At least that’s true for me.

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“So I’m so happy about a Season 2, not only because this fantastic experience of working with these people gets to continue, but I want to know what happens to these characters on the show,” she continues.

Here, Nakamura previews the Season 1 finale.

Iris Judd Avenue 5 Suzy Nakamura Josh Gad

(Nick Wall/HBO)

It’s been a season of one crazy and ridiculous problem after another for everyone on Avenue 5. How much wilder do things get in the finale?

Suzy Nakamura: Without revealing too much, I’m going to tell you how the actors reacted when we first read the script … They sent the script to us the day before [the table read], and I was out and about in London, so I hadn’t read it yet. But we have this text thread going and people were texting, “Oh my God,” [and] “Have you read this?” [and] “Did you guys read this yet?” So I rushed home to read the script. People were worried.

And then in the car on the way to work the next day, I told my driver what’s going to happen, and I remember him going, “No, no… I don’t like it.”

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Does that mean there’s a cliffhanger?

It’s fair to say that.

It sounds like there’s a lot going on in the finale, from Matt hiding with the airlock codes meaning they can’t jettison the non-essential items to the seat on the rescue shuttle. How is everyone on board dealing with all of this?

It’s interesting to talk about right now because we’re in the middle of a scare ourselves all over the world [the COVID-19 pandemic] and I feel like each one of us has a version of ourselves where we say, “This is what I would do in this situation,” and that doesn’t always match up to what you actually do. There are people that are panicking about the coronavirus that I would never imagine would panic. I think that it’s getting to a point on the show where people may have been worried and concerned, and now it’s to a point of panic.

Suzy Nakamura Josh Gad Avenue 5

(Nick Wall/HBO)

I also liked that the show addressed the theory of it all being fake.

That’s another level that [executive producer, writer, and director] Armando [Iannucci] approached the season, with the people who were like, “I don’t believe it’s real.” And they lost their lives not believing. It’s so dark, isn’t it?

It is. But it’s so funny, too.

I feel like it’s dark, but it’s wonderfully dark. I guess the people that don’t agree with it aren’t watching it then or aren’t tweeting about it because the people that I’ve seen at least on Twitter say, “This is so dark, I love it.”

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How much does Iris want to take that seat on the rescue shuttle just to get away from everyone on Avenue 5?

Can’t you say that about every single character?

Very true.

Doug and Mia are having marital problems. Matt, for sure, would want to have that extra seat. Ryan would want that extra seat. And Judd was saying, “I’m going to sacrifice myself,” but it was a self-serving sacrifice.

Rebecca Front Avenue 5 Karen

(Alex Bailey/HBO)

The logline for the finale also teases that “Iris questions Karen about her rumored affair with Ryan,” and I imagine that’s going to be hilarious. Is it?

I’ve had a couple scenes with Rebecca Front. I absolutely love working with her. I love working with everyone. A lot of our stuff is group scenes, so once in a while, I’ll have a scene with Hugh [Laurie] or Josh [Gad] or Rebecca one-on-one, and I love working with Himesh Patel, who plays the comic. As an actor, Rebecca’s just so giving, and she is so present and she basically makes everything I say funnier and I hope I’m doing the same for her because when you do that, it elevates the whole thing.

The scene is, we’re in line checking to see what people are jettisoning, and Iris takes a moment to confront her about probably a subject Iris is very uncomfortable broaching. But I love stuff with Rebecca. We have a lot of fun stuff in the finale.

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It’s been so much fun to watch Iris with Judd and Ryan. How would you describe her view of them and how it’s changed since they’ve been stuck on board the ship?

She came onto this in a middle-management position. She wants to help Judd carry out his wishes, whatever wand he waves and whatever decision he makes about running the ship. Iris felt safe because her role was well-defined as middle-management, but once she finds out that Ryan is not a real captain and Judd is getting desperate, there’s a little bit of floundering because then the definition of her role gets grayed at the edges.

She has to do so many things that most corporate people don’t have to do because Judd is such a specific character. He’s such an extreme character. I remember one scene where we were talking about weight, and she knew exactly how much he weighed to the pound, which gives you an insight of how deeply connected she is to her boss and what her ridiculous responsibilities might be.

Hugh Laurie Josh Gad Suzy Nakamura Avenue 5

(Alex Bailey/HBO)

As the threat of either a longer journey or even their own survival becomes more real, the type-A control personality she possesses might begin to chip away.

It doesn’t help that every episode it seems she learns something else about Ryan. Not a captain. British. Balding.

Yeah, your hair isn’t even real? Because she’s such a control freak, the one thing she can rely on is at least the ground, so to speak, she’s standing on is stable and when that’s shaken, it’s fun to watch her unravel.

Congratulations on getting a second season. Do you know anything about what to expect, even a general picture?

I know a little bit because we had mini writing meetings with Armando and the writers just to flesh out character-wise what’s going to happen for Season 2. I wish I could tell you, but I can’t, because it would reveal what happens in the finale.

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What are you hoping to explore with Iris as the series continues?

I’m hoping to explore different levels with Iris. I want to see how her coping mechanisms change and evolve.

Avenue 5, Season 1 Finale, Sunday, 10/9c, HBO