The 49-year-old Dirty John alum is the creator, writer, executive producer and showrunner of the upcoming Netflix limited series, which follows the 50-year-old Killing Eve star’s character, Ji-Yoon Kim, the first female chair of the English department at a fictional university.
Peet wrote Ji-Yoon with Oh in mind for the role, and she got creative when it came time to cast the lead, asking Paulson, 46, to pass the pilot script along for the Canada native to read. “I stalked her,” the A Lot Like Love star told emmy magazine in Us Weekly’s exclusive sneak peek of the August 2021 cover story.
The American Crime alum, who is also an executive producer on the project, responded to the material instantly. “I have felt that a few times in my career — and I think my sense of that is getting honed — where I’ll get a piece of material and I will immediately understand the writer’s voice,” she explained. “And I absolutely found that with Amanda’s. Particularly the humor and the world that she was trying to build. And that she gave a lot of space for Ji-Yoon and me to create a really fully fleshed character.”
Oh is known for her dramatic roles, so one reason why she gravitated toward The Chair is because of its levity. However, she was in for a surprise. “I don’t know at what point I turned to Amanda, like, ‘You fooled me. This is a drama, you know,’” she recalled. “And she was like, ‘Yeah. I know. And it’s a comedy.’”
The collaborators filmed the series during the coronavirus pandemic, making for a peculiar environment on the set. “I’m not kidding when I tell you I legit risked my life to make this piece of art,” Jay Duplass, who plays Oh’s love interest, said. “There’s no other way to say it, because I was in rooms, unmasked, with 100 unmasked 18- or 19-year-old extras who had been rapid-tested the morning of, and we all know about the efficacy of rapid testing. So I know I was in rooms with active COVID at times, and it was scary as s–t, and you know what? It was worth it because of Sandra Oh and Amanda Peet and the whole cast.”
Scroll through to learn more about Oh’s upcoming role on The Chair.