Ahead of the 2020 election, Showtime is releasing a two-part limited series called The Comey Rule, which tells the story of “the historically turbulent events surrounding the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath” by highlighting “two powerful figures,” former FBI Director James Comey and President Donald Trump, “whose strikingly different personalities, ethics and loyalties put them on a collision course.”
Ahead of the premiere, the cast and writer/director Billy Ray did a virtual Q&A with the Television Critics Association where they talked about what an important piece they think this is and what message they hope to send with it.
This Is ‘An Important Story to Tell’
Michael Kelly, who plays former FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and Steven Pasquale, who plays former FBI agent Peter Strzok, both said they think this story is crucial to where we are right now heading into the 2020 election.
“It was an important story to tell and never more evident than now when we know for a fact, just like we knew for a fact all the intelligence agencies saying in ’16, that there were foreign actors doing their best to influence that election. It’s happening again, and I think it’s so important to remind people … to be as informed as you can possibly be, and I look at this project as an incredibly informative piece,” said Kelly.
Pasquale added, “An example of why it was important to me is the right‑wing media echo chamber has painted the Russian investigation and the Steele dossier as if it was completely debunked, absurd, deep‑state conspiracy. And to me, getting in the room with the FBI, who has to deal with a decades‑long intelligence ally, Steele, who was providing reliable intelligence for decades and what to do about the intelligence that he was bringing to them is a story that I feel like a lot of people maybe don’t know because they’ve been drinking the Kool‑Aid of this absurd media landscape that we are dealing with right now. So, for me, it was really about reminding people that the FBI has to do things by the book. They are incredibly dedicated, … radically competent people, and I wanted to get inside of that and share it.”
Star Jeff Daniels, who plays James Comey, said that he wanted a chance to dig deeper and give another side to Comey’s story.
“Not all of our information is available on Twitter. Sometimes you’ve got to dive deeper, and this is a deep dive into why Comey did what he did,” said Daniels, adding, “This country is so deeply divided that it was a relevant story to tell. I just felt also that [Comey] was vilified certainly by Trump. That’s the only part of the story that we knew, Trump’s version, which is Comey is a liar. Okay. Here’s the other side. You decide. See you on November 3rd.”
Writer/director Ray added, “It’s not my goal to wind up with people erecting statues of Jim Comey or tearing them down. I just want to tell the story of how heartbreaking it can be to be a public servant in the current landscape of America. When I think about the people who were around Comey at the FBI, when I think about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and Andy McCabe and Jim Baker, you know, all of them, and, by extension, Patrice Comey. They’re all public servants and they all had their hearts broken by what happened to our country in 2016 and 2017. That was the story.”
They Think Rosenstein and Trump Jr. Got Off Too Easy In the Piece
Kelly said that he was actually able to sit down with Andrew McCabe and he came away from the meeting with such a deep admiration for the former FBI director.
“He agreed to meet me for a coffee, which ended up turning into a lunch and a hang for a couple hours … it ended up being so great, because we talked family and politics and policy, and everything that I wanted to know about him, I learned just in having conversation with him, if that makes sense. And I have great, great admiration for him. You know, here’s a lifelong Republican, someone obviously from the other side of the aisle from me. But it’s more like you disagree on policy. You don’t — all this other craziness that’s happening now is a different world to him as well. So, yeah, that’s how I went about it,” said Kelly.
Pasquale added later, “When Michael Kelly was shooting that scene where he’s talking to Donald Trump on the phone, I remember thinking to myself the last line of dialogue is Donald Trump saying, ‘Ask your wife how it feels to be a loser.’ And I remember thinking to myself there’s no way that that writing is going to fly. But it’s not writing. It’s what Donald Trump actually said to Andrew McCabe on the telephone. That is an actual thing that this person said to Andrew McCabe on the telephone. So, the people who are watching need to understand that that is what he said to Andrew McCabe on the phone. That’s the last thing he said to him.”
Pasquale also said he is “dying to read” Strzok’s new book because he and fellow former FBI agent Lisa Page “are two people who were dedicated, lifelong public servants and really good at their job. And the fact that they were summarily smeared and dismissed because of who they sleep with by a bunch of people who are defending a person who is a lifelong sexual predator is the height of hypocrisy.”
Ray also said that since they wrapped, things have happened in the last couple of months that have made him think “we took it too easy on Rod Rosenstein and way too easy on Donald Trump Jr.”
“This revelation that Rod Rosenstein really got in there and made sure that Mueller had got guardrails that would prevent him from following where the facts may lead in terms of the Russia investigation, Trump’s ties with Russia, his financial dealings, his business dealings, which clearly and obviously would lead to tax fraud, bank fraud, money laundering. That investigation, according to Peter Strzok in his new book, has yet to happen and that’s completely absurd,” added Pasquale.
The Comey Rule airs Sunday, September 27 and Monday, September 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.