Lily Collins and Kelsey Grammar on "The Last Tycoon" Character Depths

Photo: Jenevia Kagawa Darcy

Lily Collins and Kelsey Grammar co-star as daughter and father, Celia Brady and Pat Brady, in the glamorous new period piece by Amazon Prime, The Last Tycoon, adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Pat Brady is big-shot head of the studio driven to try to get the praise he feels more frequently falls to Monroe Stahr, whom he harbour complicated feelings of paternalism and jealousy, while Celia is the optimistic, driven young woman looking to take up the family business of producing films, much to her father's chagrin.

Collins has some notable parallels with her character, as she also comes from a famous father in the entertainment industry, singer Phil Collins. "It didn't dawn on me until after I shot the pilot, of that connection. I honestly was just so focused on Celia, and her passion for her project that she's trying to pitch I didn't even really think about that aspect of it. But I definitely have had conversations with both my parents about the industry and my choice to be in it, the pros and cons. In this situation though we both are in the exact same industry whereas in mine it's music and film so it's a little different. But I grew up with a mom who is obsessed with Old Hollywood and I grew up literally running around the hallways of Greystone Mansion because my mom helped preserve it. So the fact that then one day I would be there and be filming there as the Brady household was very strange. I had a lot of weird, kismet situations with this project and connections that were very beautiful."

Grammar drew inspirations from Harry Cohn, the co-founder, president, and production director of Columbia Pictures Corporation for developing the physicality and general demeanor of Pat Brady. "The key for my guy was just this one little blurb I read about Harry Cohn in the book Citizen Kohn where it said he loved gangster movies because he fancied himself a little bit of a gangster."

Both Celia and Pat undergo tremendous character journeys over the course of the first season that not only evolves them but explores the depths of their identities. When taking on the role initially, Collins was passionate about her character due to how much she was informed of where the journey would take her. "My first meeting with Billy Ray was one of those that I left, I would've been devastated had I not been able to be a part of this because he basically just rattled off my entire future. 'And then in season five, episode *this*, at the end of the series and this', he kind of mapped out exactly where he wants me to go. He gave me a rough outline of course, all that, once you get a writer's room going can slightly deviate, but the main stops along the way he already pinned out. But I'd never done TV so I don't know the idea of from script to script not knowing your fate. That's scary but at the same time, very exciting and Celia gets to be almost the experimenter in this time period."

Grammar, being a long-time veteran of television as he is still known to many for his titular role on Frasier, had a different approach to Brady's journey and unfolding character dimensions. "I have done a lot of television so I tend to say to the guys, 'Surprise me.' Whatever, I'm coming to work. So I come into work, I read the script, I look at the sides and say, 'Oh, that'll be fun, let's do that today.'"

"I love watching that by the way," interjects Collins. "I'm like, Oh! How does he go from being like 'What scene are we doing?' to then in the scene being like, 'Oh, he's nailing it!'"

"It also gives me the opportunity to surprise myself," continues Grammar. "What's nice about this character, you can tell from the questions you get how many [episodes] people have seen. I've gotten a couple questions today like, 'What's it like playing a prick?' If you've watched it, you know he's not a full prick. He sort of bumps into his emotions along the way and doesn't know what to do with them and I really enjoy that."

The Last Tycoon is available for streaming on Amazon Prime.


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