The final episode of Camping aired in the USA and Canada over the weekend and the show's stars David Tennant and Jennifer Garner have been chatting to HBO about their character's complicated relationship. The pair star as Kathryn and Walt, a not-so-happily married couple on a meticulously planned outdoor trip to celebrate Walt’s 45th birthday. However, the trip is derailed by uninvited guests and forces of nature, turning the weekend into a test of marriage and friendships...
HBO: Walt and Kathryn are at odds throughout the season. What do you think keeps them together through it all?
Jennifer Garner: Kathryn really tries — she’s tried really hard to put this trip together, and she’s put a ton of thought into it. Things can end up being a little self-serving with her, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s trying to express love and appreciation for her husband.
David Tennant: Walt’s longtime suffering and his empathy for Kathryn is hard to fault. Sometimes you want him to have a little bit more of a back bone, but the fact that he doesn’t comes from a place of love — and they’re still together at the end!
HBO: He struggles to stand up to her throughout the season, but finally does at the end of “Birthday Party (Part 1).” What emotions were at play during this scene?
Garner: That’s my favorite moment to watch back. I told David I cried after I saw that scene for the first time. I had briefly forgotten what happened, I was so drawn in. Suddenly, he was so mad and it really got to me.
Tennant: Walt doesn’t love conflict and would rather shy away from it than face it head on. When it comes to Kathryn, he loves her and he’s heartbroken that their relationship has fallen apart the way that it has. He looks back fondly on the time that he worries is gone forever.
HBO: Carleen (Ione Skye) is so important to both Kathryn and Walt, for different reasons. Tell me about their relationships with her.
Tennant: Walt is just so hungry for any form of appreciation because nobody really gives him the time of day. He has a real bond with Carleen — the devotion she shows him is what he wishes he had from his wife. The version of “Cups” she performs for him is so sweet.
Garner: I forgot about that! I remember the first time Ione did it we were all in shock. Ione is like a fairy that’s been put into human form.
Tennant: I think a lot of that comes from Ione’s performance — she does something delicate and beautiful. Jenni [Konner, executive producer] talked about casting that part and said most actors went for something focusing on the primary colors of the character. Carleen requires this sort of tie-dye of color.
Garner: Everyone was just trying to be a hippie — but Ione is already a hippie so she’s able to bring something special to Carleen.
HBO: Then she brings out a whole different side in the cake fight with Kathryn. What was that like to perform?
Garner: I remember that first take I smeared so much cake all over Ione’s face it got in her eyes. I wouldn’t do something to Ione’s beautiful face ever — I still feel bad about it! She just picked it up and threw it back at me. She was so game. I have sisters and I never fought with them, but I do understand the love there. Love can drive so much hurt and so much energy.
HBO: Speaking of fights, we need to talk about that fight scene with Jandice (Juliette Lewis). I hear there is a connection to Alias here?
Garner: Yes! My stunt double from Alias, Shauna Duggins, who actually just became the first woman to win Best Stunt Coordinator at the Emmys, was our stunt coordinator. She’s an incredible storyteller and took Jenni’s idea of what that fight scene should be and really ran with it. No one could’ve done it better.
To me, a fight is really about the acting that takes place in the fight scene, which is why I always do my own fight scenes. Juliette knew I had just done this action movie, and I think she thought I was just going to go nuts — she said to me right before we started shooting: “Hey, I’m not really into getting hit in the face.” I just laughed and said, “Of course I’m not going to hit you in the face!” I would never do that.
Tennant: I can totally picture her saying that. In a surprisingly accurate Juliette Lewis impression: “You know, I’m just really, like, not getting into getting punched in the face.”
HBO: The last shot of you two in the car in the season finale is so powerful. What did Walt’s confession mean to you?
Jennifer Garner: I remember being very ready to shoot that scene. I was very emotional right before filming it.
Tennant: It shows just how close to the surface Walt’s pain really is. What’s great about that scene is that it’s so ambiguous. You don’t know where they’re driving off to. It’s very hard to unpack what either of them is thinking in any moment of that scene. It’s a delicious thing for an actor, and for the audience hopefully. You are left feeling like — where are we now?
All episodes of Camping are available to stream on HBO the show comes to the UK on Sky Atlantic in 2019.