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Interview: Director Susanne Bier on Getting to Know the Women of ‘The First Lady’

(L-R): Executive Producer and Director Susanne Bier at the SHOWTIME world premiere event for THE FIRST LADY. The screening and after-party were held at the DGA Theater on April 14, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA. Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/SHOWTIME.

Last year, Awards Radar had the chance to speak with director Susanne Bier about her work on HBO’s The Undoing. Now, she’s back in the awards conversation thanks to Showtime’s The First Lady, which, in the first season of the anthology series, explores the lives of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama.

In our conversation, we explored the Danish director’s preexisting knowledge of these famous American women, the shooting order, how much of it actually happened, and how much of what they shot ended up being used. On the availability of video footage and the different feels of each era, Bier shared:

“There is quite a lot of Betty Ford, but there’s also quite a lot of Eleanor Roosevelt. There’s a lot of sound recording because she made all those radio speeches. It was very clear how she talked. There’s enough of filmed material so that we could actually see how she moved. The pacing of each period somehow comes off as being different. It’s not because I as a director wanted it to be different, it’s because each lady has a very individual timing and a very individual way of pacing everything, and thus each administration comes off as having a very different pacing. That’s just reality forcing itself on your dramatic perception.”

Listen to the entire conversation below!

Season one of The First Lady is now streaming on Showtime, with new episodes premiering weekly on Sundays through June 19th.

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Written by Abe Friedtanzer

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