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EXCLUSIVE: Mark Duplass on Nabbing James Van Der Beek and 'Making Things Risky' on 'Room 104'

by Liz Calvario 4:55 PM PDT, July 28, 2017
Photo: Getty Images

Jay and Mark Duplass' latest project, Room 104, was a risky idea but HBO let them create it!

Set in a single room of an average American hotel, the series is an anthology dramedy in which every episode tells a different story of the assorted characters who pass through it.

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ET caught up with the Duplass brothers at the premiere of their new show on Thursday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, where they discussed their close relationship with HBO and working with James Van Der Beek.

"I am really lucky honestly, we have a marriage with HBO, in what they call an overall deal with them," Mark told ET. "They’re supporting what we do and quite frankly, you know, Room 104 can’t be made for the same budget as Game of Thrones can be made for. It’s not going to be as popular, and that’s OK."

"For us, what it’s all about is making things that are risky and making them cheaply so that it doesn’t make HBO lose money if it doesn’t go well," he continued. "And that allows them to try things with us. So when I come to them with a show like this, and I say, 'It's Room 104, there won’t be stars in it. It’ll be different stories every night.' They’re like, 'That sounds like it might be incredible and it might go down in flames.' And we say, 'We’ll make it cheap.' And they go, 'Go for it!'"

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One actor that stands out is James Van Der Been, who appears in one episode. So how did the brothers get him to be part of the project?

"So we knew him socially a little bit and we always talked about working together," Mark explained. "You meet people through the years and you say, 'God I wanna do a project together.' And it’s hard for the stars to align, to do a full TV show with someone for seven years, or a full movie, but when we can call James and be like, 'Hey dude, wanna shoot a weird episode for three days on the Eastside of town right near where you live?’ Bam, easy decision! So that was really exciting."

"You know one thing we decided when we made the show is that we wanted to cast mostly anonymous type people," he added. "But we were open to casting known people if we did something completely different than you’ve seen them do before. So unleashing that other side of James Van Der Beek was really fun for us."

Room 104 premieres Friday on HBO.

Reporting by Ariana Williams.

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