‘Defending Jacob’s Cherry Jones Breaks Down That Courtroom Drama & Teases Twisty Finale
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 1, Episode 7 of Defending Jacob, “Job.”]
Apple TV+’s riveting limited drama series Defending Jacob continues to deliver twists and turns with each passing installment, and its latest episode is no exception as the titular teenager’s case went to court in “Job.”
After being accused of murdering his classmate Ben Rifkin (Liam Kilbreth), doubts about Jacob Barber’s (Jaeden Martell) innocence mounted when Newton’s acting ADA Neal Loguidice (Pablo Schreiber) threw a wrench in his defense’s strategy. The team, which includes his protective father Andy (Chris Evans) and attorney Joanna Klein (Cherry Jones), is blindsided by some evidence previously undisclosed to them that threatens to topple their carefully crafted plans to clear the young man’s name.
Could some graphic literature, penned by the teen, that fantasizes about killing, be the last nail in his slowly-sealing coffin? Some brief developments in the episode’s final moments hint at a twist to come, ahead of what’s sure to be an insane finale. Below, we catch up with Jones (Transparent, The Handmaid’s Tale), who breaks down the theatrics of Jacob’s courtroom trial, collaborating with costars Evans and Michelle Dockery and teasing the May 29 finale.
This was quite the episode. What was it like getting to delve into these theatrical court scenes?
Cherry Jones: I was so excited when I realized that it really is like a theater. You’ve got this big, wide reverberating space, so your voice sounds good. You’ve got your audience.
You’re performing for everyone in that room, but of course, specifically for that jury. Just building it so that everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Every time Joanna would stand up, she already knows the answer to all the questions she’s asking. She’s pretty much in control until that Loguidice throws her a wrench. It was really, really fun.
And that jury, they were amazing. They never fell asleep. They never wandered. They were unbelievable, those actors in that jury. I came away feeling like they were friends. I can’t wait to see their faces again [when I watch the episode]. My favorite audience of all time, those 12 people who were sitting there for days and days and days.
How many days did it take to film the trial sequences?
I honestly don’t remember, but it was a solid week, I’m sure, because [director] Morten [Tyldum] does a million different angles. I remember at one point we were in the psychiatrist’s office, and he had shot from this direction and that direction. Then finally it was the end of the day, and Morten set the camera up way up at the very top of the wall and the ceiling. Chris said, ‘Morten, what is that? The security camera shot? What are you doing?’ Morten finally said, ‘You’re right. Forget it.’ [Laughs]
But it was such a great, fun group to be with. It’s so fascinating to work on something and to be there when it’s being shot, and then to see what they do with it in terms of the score, and where they cut it because I do still feel like an amateur with television and film. I’m always so wide-eyed when I see things after it’s out.
Is Joanna the kind of lawyer that believes everything she’s saying in this case? Is she as convinced of Jacob’s innocence as she claims to be?
[She doesn’t] know whether he is or isn’t [guilty], but I talked to Mark [Bomback] and Morten about people who must know that their client is guilty, and yet they still have to defend and come up with all these different things that point to [innocence], and what that must be like to live with. They said, ‘That’s the justice system. If you do not have a defense attorney, whether the person is guilty or innocent, there is no justice in the land. You’ve got to have good defense attorneys.’ So, I just took that note and ran with it. [Joanna’s] only job is to make sure that child is free at the end of the day.
Andy gets involved with the defense strategy as part of the family’s wish, which was mentioned by Joanna to the judge. Was it a good idea for him to get involved?
I don’t think she would have wanted [him] to do that. It complicates the telling of the story somehow, I think, from a defense attorney’s point of view when you have someone who did work in the government. It muddies the water for the jury a little bit. I would think that Joanna Klein would think it was not wise. But she understands why he wants to do it, and they’re her clients, and that’s their wishes.
What drew you to this show? What jumped out to you when first introduced to the title?
Well, when I heard it was Chris, who everyone adores… I talked to friends who’d worked with him, and everyone loves him. And I was so intrigued to get to work with Michelle, who I adored. But the script itself… I’m a very slow reader, but I was just flying through it because you want to know what happens.
When I was a child, my mother would always tell my sister, Susan, and I, that there was nothing we could do that would keep them from loving us, that their love was unconditional. So as a child, I would always try to come up with horrible things [to say]. Then finally I said, ‘What if I murdered someone?’ I remember my mother saying, ‘Well, we’ll be heartbroken, but we will love you unconditionally.’ That’s this story, except the parents don’t know whether the child did or did not.
It’s excruciating to watch that family go through all that multilayered pain, and just when they’ll try to get their spirits up, there will be a reminder of the family that is mourning the loss of [Ben]. Then you watch them deflate again. There are so many moments that just catch your breath. How would we react if it were a loved one of ours, where you absolutely have to believe in them and support them? If you have doubts, then you’re in agony.
The ending serves up a great cliffhanger for viewers, as child sex offender Leonard Patz (Daniel Henshall) appears to be writing a confession letter. What can you tease about the finale?
Well, I do know that it’s deceptive. There are going to be more twists and turns. It’s not going to be just all of them going out for ice cream and resuming their lives happily. There’s got to be a few more twists, [otherwise] it was too easy.
You’ve worked on so many different projects, what was the best part about collaborating with this set of actors?
Working with all three of them, and poor Jaeden didn’t get to come to some of the parties because he’s underage. But Chris was a very generous host, and had several parties in the course of the spring and summer, and into the fall because it went a while. You just couldn’t wait for another Chris party!
Defending Jacob, New Episodes, Fridays, Apple TV+