Co-writer/director Steven Zaillian discusses an important cast member.
Steven Zaillian: The cat in The Night Of has no name, not even “Andrea’s cat.” At most, it’s referred to in dialog as “her cat,” but more often just “the cat” or “it.” This was intentional.
At the beginning, there were no grand designs for the cat as a character. It was there in the first episode to establish in a natural way that Naz has asthma and uses an inhaler. That and one other thing.
But once the cat had served its purpose, then what? You can’t just forget about it, have it disappear, thank you for helping with plot, now goodbye. Its owner has been killed, but it’s still around. …
The actor who plays Safar Khan, Naz’s mother, delves into her moments of uncertainty and the brutality of the criminal justice system.
HBO: What was your experience reading The Night Of scripts for the first time?
Poorna Jagannathan: The writing is haunting. Once you read it, you can’t shake it off, no matter what. You can’t shake the characters off; you can’t shake the story off, which is what I even felt in the audition process.
HBO: What do you find most compelling about the story?
Poorna Jagannathan: It’s so deeply relatable. It’s one bad decision (and we’ve all made those in our 20s), and that decision has catastrophic consequences. Usually when you see a crime drama, there’s a need to move the story along. The most dramatic element is what you see on the screen: the actual crime or judicial process. But the truth is, when a crime is committed, it has a 360-degree effect. It effects every portion and everything that the accused person comes into contact with, consciously or unconsciously. …
The actor who plays Chandra, the rookie defense attorney thrust into the limelight, discusses race in The Night Of, what she brings to the table, and what can be gained from Naz’s trail.
HBO: Do you think Chandra aspires to be more of an Alison Crowe or a John Stone as a lawyer?
Amara Karan: I think neither. Chandra thinks that Alison Crowe is a bit off the scale aggressive. And she thinks John looks like a car crash, so she doesn’t want to be that either. She is young enough to believe I’m not going to be like her and I’m not going to be like him. …
The actor who plays John Stone, the disheveled half of Naz’s legal representation, goes deep into the story of The Night Of. Discussing the larger themes and resonance of the series, Turturro also has a word or two to say about the significance of Stone’s feet.
HBO: What appealed to you about The Night Of as a story and a project?
JOHN TURTURRO: I felt that the story was just reeking of the human dilemma. Any time you have a prison film or anything about a crime, it’s kind of a microcosm of society. It reminded me of a Russian crime novel. …
The actor who plays the cool and collected Alison Crowe to John Turturro’s less-than-together John Stone speaks frankly about imbuing her character with equal amounts steel and femininity, the poker game of plea bargains and the lack of justice in the criminal justice system.
HBO: What’s your read on Alison Crowe as a lawyer?
Glenne Headly: In a nutshell, I would describe her as a very intelligent lawyer who really plans out her assessment of a situation and her means of attack. And I think she does it in a very unusual way. She uses her femininity to disarm. If I had tried to play this in a much tougher, more obvious way, I don’t think she would have gotten so far. …