Timothy Simons On Playing A Killer's Loyal Husband In Candy - Exclusive Interview

Timothy Simons has a well-earned reputation as a funny guy. Respected for both his comedy chops and his versatile vocal skills, he's best known for his role in the award-winning comedy "Veep" as well as his voiceover roles in shows including "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Bob's Burgers," and "Rugrats," among many others.

His latest role as Pat Montgomery, the sweetly loyal husband to accused axe murderer Candy Montgomery in the Hulu true-crime miniseries "Candy," takes him far away from his usual comic fare. Based on the true story of a well-liked, church-going Texas housewife accused of brutally murdering a friend in 1980, the mood of "Candy" is dark, despite the show's sunny suburban Texas setting. Even Pat Montgomery's penchant for dad jokes — which Simons delivers with his usual flair — only serves to highlight the sense of menace lurking just beneath the surface of characters' seemingly comfortable lives. In this exclusive interview, Simons talks about the challenges of his role and the evolution of his character.

The nuanced writing in the scripts drew Timothy Simons to Candy

First of all, I'm really interested in how you got involved in "Candy." A lot of your best-known work has been in comedy, so what drew you to the role of Pat Montgomery?

A friend of mine and I always joke, "What drew me to the role is that they offered me the opportunity to play it." That's the first thing that draws me to it. In all seriousness, Robin [Veith]'s writing is incredible. The balance of tones that she has is amazing and my own personal taste. I'm best known for a show that was very much straight-up comedy, but I came out of and came up in an independent theater world, which is always a mix of everything together all at once. 

[That mix is] Robin's writing and the way that she was able to blend all these tones together of things that are weird and things that are funny and things that are scary and things that are very dramatic and sad. She did such an amazing job putting all those things together. That's what really drew me to the project in general.

Also, "Candy" is based on real events, so did you research this story before you started shooting?

Before we started shooting, absolutely. I did not know the story when I first got the scripts and intentionally didn't find out anything about it until I had read the scripts that they had written, until I had read all five of the scripts, because I wanted the story to be revealed to me as if I was a person watching the show with no prior knowledge. Going into it, I didn't know anything about the case, and then as we led up shooting, we did do a lot of, or at least I did a lot of, research regarding the time period and regarding Pat himself and the story and the case, I did a lot of reading about that. 

We had consultants on the show who were involved in the reporting, we had consultants who knew the real people, but ultimately, because we weren't trying to be a photorealistic recreation of events, there was a lot of creative license that we were able to take. There was a lot of research done, but it wasn't about presenting the real life. It was about presenting this interpretation of the story.

Pat Montgomery's loyalty to his wife fascinated Timothy Simons

What did you think was the most interesting thing about the story in "Candy"?

(Specific to the characters), I thought it was fascinating. As I kept reading the scripts, not knowing what happened, I kept thinking, "When is Pat going to leave? When is Pat going to wise up? When's Pat going to get out of there? When that trial's over and he's still around..." That was the thing, I was like, "Wait, after all that, he still stuck with her, so what was it about him? What was it about him? What was it about Candy? What was it about their life that made him think, 'Staying here is better than leaving?'" That was something that I thought was very interesting, character specific.

Story specific, whenever I try to explain it to people, I always have to remind them: It's about a suburban Texas church lady who kills her good friend who also goes to the same church and she's had an affair with her husband, but the person who gets killed is not the one who had the affair. You always think that's how that story's going to go. You never think it's going to be the one who was the cheater who is also the one that then goes into a rage and kills someone else.

What can you share about the relationship between Pat and Candy Montgomery?

I would joke around with Jesse [Biel, who plays Candy] that my job was a lot easier in those first few episodes. My job was so easy in the first few episodes because Pat, from Pat's perspective, their relationship is ... he's as happy as he can be. Everything is going great. That might not be the case from Candy's side, as we find out.

Just to elaborate, your feeling was he was oblivious the whole time.

I know. Yeah, he's got a great job that he loves, he's got great kids, he's he really married up in his own estimation. Everything's amazing for him.

1970s clothes — and cars – took him outside his comfort zone

What was the most challenging thing about your role for you?

There were a couple things, [like] the period [specifically]. I feel like I have a modern way of speaking in that I say "like" and "man" too much, and when you're trying to be conversational in something that takes place in the 1970s, that was a challenge for me to sound like someone that was in the 1970s, to make it sound conversational without making it sound modern conversational. Also, the scene toward the end when, in Episode 5, in the courtroom, that one was challenging because it was trying to assign rational thought to an irrational mindset. 

As a performer, you're trying to rationally find your way through a scene when the character is in an irrational place. That was really challenging. Other than that, sometimes [it's difficult] wearing a wig on a hot day. On a cold day, wearing a wig's amazing because it's like wearing a winter hat, it's awesome, but [when it's] a hot Atlanta day and you're in a wig, that's rough.

What other things were interesting about playing in a period piece like this?

The fact that I don't fit into any car that existed before 1992, that was a big one. I'm a challenge to fit no matter what, and I'm definitely a challenge to fit when you're talking about period costumes. Getting used to how those clothes felt because they were so unlike what I would wear day-to-day, and then having to feel natural and comfortable in them, that was interesting as well.

"Candy" will premiere on Hulu Monday, May 9, kicking off a five-night event leading up to the finale on Friday, May 13.