It’s Back-to-School this Sunday night at 10:30pm on HBO with the highly anticipated premiere of Season Two of Rough House Pictures’ Vice Principals Series.
Monday night, HBO celebrated with a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse. Invited guests were treated to the first two episodes shown on the big screen (complete with popcorn and cocktails), followed by a Q&A. Series stars Walton Goggins and Danny McBride were ushered to the stage by the fabulous stylings of the Brooklyn Express Drum Line and the crowd went crazy. A party in the Alamo Drafthouse’s House of Wax followed and McBride and Goggins mingled, shook hands and took pictures, while guests were treated to a take-home treat perfect for the start of a new school year: a Vice Principals Lunch Box filled with North Jackson High School school supplies.
If you’re already a fan of Vice Principals, then the big question on your mind is, could the Rough House crew really follow such a fucked up, hilarious and brilliant first season?
The answer is a resounding yes. I had already seen the first seven episodes of Season Two which take place during the Spring semester of the same year- and it’s as outrageous as you want it to be- but I still made the trek to Brooklyn to get the chance to rewatch a few eps on a big screen. When Season Two kicks off, Gamby is back, recovering from his shooting. Lee Russell has finally found himself as the King of the High School, and he’s made a few changes at North Jackson now that he’s the school’s only Principal. Of course, the big question of the season is “Who Shot Gamby?” since when we last saw our favorite VPs, Neal was gunned down in the high school parking lot by a masked assailant. The ride is wild with some new characters on board including new friends and new rivals like Dale Dickey who joins the team as Nash, a Vice Principal who filled-in during Neal’s recovery, and Fisher Stevens who will play a rival of sorts for Gamby.
Enough spoilers, you don’t want to know anything more about Season Two without enjoying it for yourself, one episode at a time.
During the Q&A with Goggins and McBride (and a separate interview I did with Edi Patterson that will come out later this week), the two co-stars revealed a lot about what it was like working on the project- and there’s no question that working on the show was as much fun for the team as you would hope. The mutual respect the two frontmen had for each other was unmistakable. Goggins described the experience of working opposite McBride as “a fucking joy” and admitted he spent a lot of his on-set time just trying not to laugh. The feeling was mutual for McBride who admitted to breaking up on set often. “Walton’s incredible,” he said. “I’ve been with some men who are very funny; female comedians who are very funny who do it for a living, that’s all they do, and I pride myself in being able to keep it together in takes. But I was helpless against him. He would purse his lips or raise his eyebrow and get me every time.”
Even though the filming ended two years ago, there is so much love for the series and each other. Walton Goggins called the project a “seminal experience for everybody involved” and said that they still remain friends.
McBride also revealed that the character of Lee Russell was one of the more difficult characters to cast until David Green came up with the idea of approaching Goggins. “I met Walton a handful of times and was familiar with his work. He was someone that I always wanted to spend time with and always wanted to work with,” he said. “When it came time for it to be real and for us to cast, we were at a complete loss. There wasn’t anybody that we could think of that we felt really had what it took to bring Lee to life. And I think it was David Green had suggested Walton and instantly we all were like ‘yes,’ that’s who we have to talk into doing this. Because that character of Lee is so tricky. He’s hilarious and he’s vile, but there has to be a level of charisma there so you can actually watch him. And that was something we felt that Walton was going to be able to nail perfectly.”
Goggins recalled that when he first showed up in Charleston and met the creative team, he was intimidated and likened the experience of meeting the Rough House crew to “being bum-rushed by a posse of smart intelligent people.” But said that once he got over that initial meeting, everyone was incredible to work with. “It was just really the ride of a lifetime.”
We’ll have more on Vice Principals – Season Two all week including an interview with Edi Patterson who plays Jen Abbott, the off-the-wall Spanish teacher whose unrequited love for Gamby in Season One was brilliantly funny, and we’ll be sharing an interview with the cast of Vice Principals that took place this summer in Montreal.
Mark your calendar, because school is back in session at North Jackson this Sunday, September 17 at 10:30pm on HBO when Vice Principals – Season Two premieres. Don’t be left behind.