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Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells Open Up About Their Show, ‘Doll & Em’

On the Sky/HBO series, Doll & Em, stars/co-creators Emily Mortimer and Dolly Wells play a couple of longtime friends whose relationship changes significantly when Wells’ character becomes the personal assistant to Mortimer’s character. IndieWire’s Liz Shannon Millerspoke with the two about creating the show (along with director Azazel Jacobs) and the new direction the show’s taking for its second season.

On the two real-life friends’ writing process, Wells says, “it’s almost 40 years of being friends — we’ve gotten very good at talking. But we didn’t really realize actually, in a way, talking was writing. So we got good at working out what made us laugh, and what we cared about and themes and all sorts of things that we cared about.”

“The story of the first [season],” adds Mortimer, “was this basic idea of personal assistance, and what happens when you make your best friend your personal assistant…also we wanted to the sort of noir-ish element. We knew it was in Hollywood, and that feeling of paranoia and being on a film set in Hollywood and being paranoid and thinking everyone’s whispering about you and then we started thinking about “All About Eve,” and the servants and those servant-master dynamics in movies that felt a bit noir-ish and fucked up. And what happens in those films is the balance of power completely shifts, so the master becomes the servant and vice versa.”

On the second season vs. the first: “I feel like the second is more about us collaborating and the nightmare that ensues as a result of that,” says Mortimer, “and the effect that it has on the people we love.” 

“So then with the second, you’re thinking, ‘We don’t want to let them down’,” Wells adds. “You don’t want to let Doll and Em down because you care about them, you love them. And you don’t let the people that are responding to them down and feel like you really made your biggest effort with the first season, so you really want it to be as good.”