Paramount+ series 'Mayor of Kingstown' explores systemic racism, corruption and inequality - Albuquerque Journal

Paramount+ series ‘Mayor of Kingstown’ explores systemic racism, corruption and inequality

Dianne Wiest as Mariam McLusky in the Paramount+ series “Mayor of Kingstown.” (Emerson Miller/ViacomCBS)

Dianne Wiest is always up for a challenge when it comes to the projects that she picks.

Playing the role of Mariam McLusky in the Paramount+ series “Mayor of Kingstown” definitely was an uphill battle for the Oscar winner.

“I’ve played so many mothers, and that’s sort of been my lot,” Wiest says. “But Mariam is different, because I think she really doesn’t want to have anything to do with family. If she could just be free of them and teach, she’d be very happy. It’s because all (her family) has done is brought her pain and death.”

“Mayor of Kingstown” follows the McLusky family – power brokers in Kingstown, Michigan, where the business of incarceration is the only thriving industry.

The series tackles themes of systemic racism, corruption and inequality and provides a stark look at their attempt to bring order and justice to a town that has neither.

The original drama is created by Taylor Sheridan and Hugh Dillon.

The cast features Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest, Kyle Chandler, Dillon, Taylor Handley, Emma Laird and Tobi Bamtefa.

Mariam McLusky is mother to three sons – Mike, Mitch and Kyle – played by Renner, Chandler and Handley.

Mike and Mitch are running the town, which brings trouble for their mother.

Meanwhile, Kyle is on the police force, trying not to be part of the “family business.”

Wiest and Handley got to spent many scenes together, and throughout the series, the mother-son relationship grows.

Jeremy Renner stars as Mike McLusky in the series “Mayor of Kingstown.” (Emerson Miller/ViacomCBS)

Handley says that his first day on the set, he was nervous because he had a scene with Wiest.

“Coming into my second scene, and now working with Dianne, it was like a breath of fresh air,” Handley says. “She is such an amazing, giving actor. I feel as if we just fell into the mother and son relationship very naturally. It was just so amazing to get to play in the sandbox with her. For me, it was incredible.”

For Laird, being a part of the series as Emma was something she wanted.

“I remember reading the first episode and reading it four times because there was so much going on,” Laird says. “I’m familiar with Taylor’s (Sheridan) work. I really dropped three projects for this one. I had a Netflix film and two Amazon series that I was already offered. I read this script, and it changed everything. Once I got on the phone with Taylor, he told me the arc of my character, and it became this realization that none of the other roles that I was going to do, would allow me to express myself and showcase what I can do as an actor. This was right for me.”

Mike McLusky has a heavy burden on his shoulders from the get-go.

Renner was up to the challenge, because the role was completely different from his role in his other series, “Hawkeye.”

He says the two productions were done back to back, and stepping into Mike McLusky’s shoes was interesting, and he learned a lot about the character.

“I think I like the complexity of Mike,” he says. “I like how he’s a guy that you want in your corner. He’s, like, a friend that you kind of you want to have. I like that. He is so strong and believes in what he believes, even if it’s his own demise or gets in his own way. (Mike) is the most selfless character I think I’ve ever played, and nothing he really does (is) for himself, which is kind of really interesting. (With that), it kind of leaves him lonely. But I like his selflessness. It’s pretty admirable.”


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