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Poker Face: Adrien Brody Breaks Down the Premiere’s Big Twist, Hints at Trouble Ahead for Charlie

Poker Face ‘s Charlie Cale just solved her first case — and the man she fingered for the murder paid the ultimate price.

Warning: This post contains spoilers from Thursday’s Poker Face series premiere.

Poker Face: Adrien Brody Breaks Down the Premiere’s Big Twist, Hints at Trouble Ahead for Charlie!

Thursday’s series premiere of the Peacock detective series introduced us to Charlie (played by Natasha Lyonne), a Reno cocktail waitress who has a knack for telling when people are lying. When Charlie’s friend Natalie ended up dead, Charlie did a little digging and discovered that Natalie was killed after spotting what sure seems like child pornography on the laptop of a high roller, with casino boss Sterling Frost Jr. (guest star Adrien Brody) ordering her execution to silence her. When Charlie accused Sterling of arranging Natalie’s murder, he laughed her off, but then Charlie spilled the beans about Sterling’s plot to cheat that high roller out of his money at a private poker game — and once the gambling community hears that Sterling’s casino cheats, it’ll ruin his business. (A business handed to him by his powerful father.)

A desperate Sterling ended up taking his own life, hurling himself off a balcony, and soon, Charlie was on the run with Sterling’s enforcer Cliff (Benjamin Bratt) on her tail and Sterling’s dad vowing vengeance. The premiere gave us lots to unpack, so we reached out to Brody to chat about Sterling’s motivations (and his own, as an actor) and what might happen to Charlie if Sterling’s dad ever catches her.

You’re one and done here as Sterling Frost Jr. As an actor, is it more appealing to just drop in and do one episode like that? Is that what drew you to this?

Poker Face: Adrien Brody Breaks Down the Premiere’s Big Twist, Hints at Trouble Ahead for Charlie!

What drew me was the chance to work with Rian [Johnson] again. We worked together on [the 2008 film The] Brothers Bloom, and it was a wonderful time together. We’ve stayed in touch, and I’ve enjoyed his work immensely, and he continues to do great work, and this was just a well-written role. I’ve got my hands full. I was committed to Season 2 of Winning Time, and this just kind of worked for us to squeeze in. It was really fun to work with Natasha as well. She’s just so strong in the film, or the show. It kind of felt like making a small film, to be honest.

Sterling plotted with Charlie to rip off this high roller at the casino. What did Sterling think of Charlie? He knew she had this gift, but did he really trust her?

I mean, trust? I don’t know how much he really trusts her. You know, sometimes when a pot of gold is so big, you don’t use common sense as much. [Laughs] That’s the first thing a con man knows. The first thing is to lure the mark in by giving him the idea that so much is accessible. But he was thoroughly impressed and a bit in awe of this ability she has, and if he could find a way to use that for his advantage, then he’ll tolerate anything, basically.

How was it playing off of Natasha? This feels like the perfect role for her.

She’s amazing. She’s such a good actor, but she’s so good in this role. It was a pleasure. It’s like a dance, you know. She has this wonderful ability to play with all these heightened choices and yet convey things in a very nuanced and contained way, but in a believable way. It’s a real gift, and it’s very enjoyable to watch and to interact with.

Poker Face: Adrien Brody Breaks Down the Premiere’s Big Twist, Hints at Trouble Ahead for Charlie!

Charlie figured out what Sterling is up to and threatened to expose him, so he threw himself off the balcony. What drove him to those lengths? Was it him feeling like he failed to prove himself to his father?

I think that’s a part of it. There’s just a deep underlying lack of self-worth and insecurity that comes from the circumstances that he was raised in, not just with his father. Some of the privileges that he was afforded kind of caused irreparable damage in his developmental years, and now that he’s at an age where he really wants to be taken seriously and take things to the next level, I think it’s a bit of proving it to himself as well. The failure and the embarrassment is so great that it’s a bit of hari-kari, you know. He can’t find a way out of that one. It’s tragic.

Sterling Jr. may be gone, but his dad and his enforcer Cliff are still out there hunting for Charlie. How worried should she be about Sterling’s dad? We haven’t met him yet, but just from that phone call, he seems like a fearsome presence.

I would be pretty worried about him. Wouldn’t you? [Laughs] A mob boss gangster powerful man who runs a casino in Reno who knows all about you, and you just ruined his business and his son? I think I’d be pretty scared.

Adrien Brody on Helping Set the Season’s Stage With Natasha Lyonne

The lights on a metal detector don’t indicate the presence of a weapon as he’s dragged out, hinting to Charlie that Cliff swiped the gun for himself before using it on the doomed couple.

When Charlie puts the pieces together, she sabotages Sterling’s game, warning the high-roller of his intentions and essentially putting Frost Casino on a gambling blacklist, dooming the business.

“I just thought it was so fun,” Brody tells TV Insider of the series. “It was an easy decision to be a part of this and the character was so well written. Just such a complicated individual and there was room for humor and there’s a lot of darkness within that as well, and I was just excited by the challenge.”

Particularly with the added layer that Sterling’s running of the casino is dependent upon his dad’s approval after the elder Sterling Foster handed him the keys to the kingdom. Hence the reason Sterling Jr. even knows about Charlie’s talents as his father already uncovered them years prior.

Following his failure, Sterling Jr. jumps from one of the casino’s high-level windows. Committing suicide and putting Charlie in his father’s crosshairs.

“I don’t think it’s fear of his father,” Brody says of the motivation behind Sterling’s life-ending decision. “I think if anyone takes their life in their hands or considers it, it comes from an utter state of desperation and of failure and irreparable loss. It’s the feeling that something is so irreparable the rest ceases to make sense. So it’s a catastrophic failure.”

While Brody says the role offers “light bits,” he says Sterling Jr. is “grappling with his own failings in the past. And what’s at stake for him, not only in his father’s eyes.” Someone who is seemingly unsurprised by Sterling Jr.’s shortcomings is Cliff who laughs upon learning about Charlie’s whistleblowing.

So what was their bond? It seems like Cliff’s allegiance is to the senior Sterling and the business itself.

“I’m sure he’s probably been assigned to Junior,” Brody says. ”He’s security, but he’s also probably saved his ass too many times. So he knows [Junior] well, he knows his dirty secrets and that’s all you need to know to see very clearly where his allegiance stands,” continues Brody. “The orders come from the top.”

Once Junior’s dad realizes what Charlie’s done, he sends Cliff to chase her down and that’s where the mystery-of-the-week theme steps in. Viewers follow Charlie as she pops in an out of different towns, solving murders on her journey to escape danger herself.

Will we ever know more about the dynamics and inner workings of Frost Casino? Brody couldn’t say whether or not the show will revisit his character in a flashback, but he does open up about working opposite Lyonne who despite standing nearly a foot shorter than him, puts everything she has into going toe-to-toe with him.

“She’s just so wonderful and her work is so nuanced,” says Brody. “She brings wonderful humor and broader comedic choices,” to the screen he clarifies, “and then the honest restrained, but very deliberate character.” Paired up with creator, director, and executive producer Rian Johnson, you have yourself a dream team. “It’s just such a pleasure,” Brody says of the experience. “Everybody feels like they’re in good hands and the material is so good. You have a lot of confidence in what you can achieve together. And she’s very impressive.”

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Source: TV Line / TV Insider

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Chiara Lombatti
Chiara Lombatti
When Cristina Yang’s mankind hate, and Sherlock Holmes’ deductive skills meet Randall Pearson’s anxiety and Jamie Fraser’s multilingualism (featuring Claire Fraser’s curls and Kate Pearson’s voice). Translator and feature article with a great love for cinema, TV series and books.


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