Daisy Jones & The Six Cast & EPs On How A Stalled Production Turned The Fictional Rock Band Into A Reality
Daisy Jones & The Six may not have existed in the 1970s, but they do now.
Sam Claflin, Riley Keough, Suki Waterhouse, Sebastian Chacon, Josh Whitehouse, and Will Harrison bring the once-fictional rock band to life in Prime Video’s adaptation of the best-selling novel, which debuts on Friday.
“I think the band really does exist, and it’s us,” Chacon, who plays drummer Warren Rojas, told Deadline. “We played a considerable amount of time together. We really got to the point where we’re not only proficient and capable, but also very comfortable and we look like we’ve been playing together for a long time — because we have.”
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If all had gone according to plan, Daisy Jones & The Six would have begun production in April of 2020.
Prior to the series, the cast were novice musicians. They were expected to undergo a few months of individual music lessons and about a month of band camp to prepare for their roles as a part of a fictional Fleetwood Mac-esque band from the 1970s.
Instead, the world shut down. Like many who had projects squashed by the lockdown that came with the COVID pandemic, the cast and crew at first felt like something incredible was being taken from them. Soon, they would realize what the series stood to gain from this derailment. They now had more than a year to become a real rock band.
“It might have gotten quite different had we actually shot on time,” executive producer Scott Neustadter told Deadline. “Everyone had such a different experience playing music, and I think that they were good…ish. But then we didn’t film in April 2020. We didn’t film until September of 2021. By then, they were outstanding. There were these inside jokes, and there was all the camaraderie that you see in a band that you cannot fake. By the time cameras rolled, I think we all knew that it was a real rock band.”
While a few months of lessons might have bolstered the actors’ individual skills, it likely wouldn’t have been enough time for them to completely gel as a group.
The 2020 version of Daisy Jones & The Six might have relied on some good old-fashioned movie magic to make this band look real. An sly angle of the camera here or a cutaway there could have made the stage performances seem believable enough. The version that audiences are about to be introduced to doesn’t need magic.
“There’s no magic to it. It’s just them,” author and executive producer Taylor Jenkins Reid said, answering what is sure to become one of the most-asked questions about the series. “They’re playing all their instruments themselves, and they’re playing the songs themselves.”
Added Chacon: “At the beginning, it was like, ‘Okay some moments like in this song, this is really difficult. How are we going to hide that with the camera, in case it can’t be right?’ But then at some point, it’s like, ‘Hey, the camera could look at whatever you want.’ If you watch those scenes, the camera is freely moving around, and it looks like you’re just watching a concert.”
The actors spent more than 17 months digging into their crafts. Renowned music producers Blake Mills and Tony Berg, who also crafted the band’s album Aurora, spent months coaching each of the actors through their parts. By the end of their training, they weren’t just actors playing rock stars. They were the rock stars.
“They were very disciplined, whether it was practicing guitar, whether it was working on their vocals, they would actually have lessons. They were really dialed in on honing their craft and the craft of their character,” executive producer Lauren Neustadter said. “We then had in-person music rehearsals at Sound City, where we would have these jam sessions…and we would just watch them play and we were really in awe of what they were doing and how far they had come.”
But being a rock star isn’t just about being able to shred on the guitar or hit a high note on vocals. Rock stars have an energy, and rock bands have a language. Or, as showrunner Will Graham put it, the band had to have “its own heartbeat.”
Luckily, this is the part that came easy.
“When you go through that much together…it felt like there wasn’t any work left to do. We just kind of hit roll on the cameras in a way,” said Whitehouse, who plays bassist Eddie Roundtree.
Claflin, who portrays frontman Billy Dunne, contended that the group’s chemistry “translated very easily from off set to on set.”
“We all wanted to come to work every day. No one took it too seriously so that we were able to have fun and, in between those dramatic moments you see on screen, we were all backstage laughing. I think there was just a genuine love for one another honestly,” he said.
Many of them remember a moment where things started to feel like they were really coming together. For Chacon, that moment was when the band was in the studio recording “Let Me Down Easy,” one of the songs from Aurora.
The actor told Deadline he remembers thinking, “‘Yeah, this looks f***ing sick. This is exactly right.’”
As the cast and crew geared up to begin production, Daisy Jones & The Six performed live on stage for the first time in front of a small group of department heads and Amazon executives. That’s when Reid saw this band that had only ever existed in the pages of her book come to life right before her eyes.
“I’m standing in the audience area, and they come through the door and somebody says, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Daisy Jones and The Six.’ They walk past me, and they’re in costume and they were in character and they’ve got their instruments and I just went ‘Oh my god, they’re real,’” she said. “It was so unbelievable that I just sat there and it was a mix of like I was a fan and also a proud mom at the same time. I just couldn’t believe that these actors had become rock stars, but that’s what it was.”
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