Élodie Yung on Season 2 Finale and Ideas for Season 3

Dec 13, 2022

[Editor’s note: The following contains major spoilers for Season 2 of The Cleaning Lady.]

From co-showrunners Miranda Kwok and Melissa Carter, the Fox series The Cleaning Lady just wrapped up its second season with an explosive finale that leaves no one unscathed. While Thony (Élodie Yung) may still be standing, after having ensured the safety of her son, her family could still be shattered, leaving exciting and interesting questions about what could come next.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Yung talked about the importance of keeping things relatable, the shocks and surprises the show has thrown at the audience all season, how Thony kept falling down rabbit holes, the evolution of the Thony-Arman (Adan Canto) relationship, filming the big final shootout, the experience of shooting a character funeral, what could come next for Fiona (Martha Millan), and why she can’t ever judge Thony.
Collider: Backing up to the beginning of Season 2, what was your reaction when you found out what would happen to Marco? After everything that happened with Thony and her husband in Season 1, how did you feel about where they took that story this season?

ELODIE YUNG: To be honest, it was a surprise and a shocker that it happened so quickly, or just that it happened at all. I could have seen it going a complete other way, but there is a surprise factor that they really like to inject into this show, now and then, and they wanted to start this season very strong. They set the bar to say that anything can happen. I was shocked when I found out that Marco died, that it was an accident, and that he was pushed by Chris. I immediately wanted to know how it would affect Thony. That’s the one thing that I really try to do, as an actress, in any show or project that I’ve been in. I really try to keep things grounded. That’s the only way I can relate to my characters. So, I said to Melissa [Carter], our showrunner, that it needed to affect Thony.

The show has a very fast pace, so there needed to be time where, even though she’s going to fall into one rabbit hole after another, she takes a little breather, and we see her taking it in, even though most of the time she’s just so in shock over his death. She’s crumbling, but she’s really trying to keep things together. The emotions don’t hit her as much this season because there’s so many things going on that she needs to go through. But I really insisted, and we rewrote the scene where she is with the attorneys and Luca, and she just lets the pain go because she sees her son. Initially, it wasn’t written that way, but I really insisted because I want things to impact her. I want her to feel human. I want the audience to relate to her because she is someone who is going through a lot for her son, no matter what. She’s someone who just lost her husband, and as much as she wants to help Chris and hide the accident because he’s undocumented, and I understand all of that, it still needed to impact her in a real way. That’s grief. I try to have little moments like that, even though Thony is going through so much at once.

Image via Fox

One of the things that I really love about this show is that, even though all of these crazy things are happening, the characters still feel so real and relatable that you keep going along with it and rooting for them.

YUNG: Yes. The showrunners like to say it’s a pushed reality. With all of these characters, I’m hoping that nobody goes through so much in their own lives. I really hope that doesn’t exist, to this extent. So, it’s a pushed reality because it is sometimes exaggerated, and it’s entertaining. It’s Vegas, and we keep it sexy and surprising. I like that because it keeps us on our toes and audiences want to see more. But my job, as the actor, is to bring the human side. The writers want to make a show that’s a hybrid that’s also character-driven, which is very important to me because we’re still talking about a woman who’s come to a country to find a cure for her son, and a lot of people can relate to that. We’re talking about people who are undocumented. Thony is fighting for her family. I just wanna make sure that we keep the heart of these characters, and I think everyone is doing a good job with that. There’s a good balance between realism and pushed reality and entertainment.

You talked about how Thony keeps falling down rabbit holes quite a bit this season, to the point where you wonder how she’ll ever be able to climb back out. Does it feel like it was just a matter of time before it became impossible for her to fix everything, all the time?

YUNG: Eventually, she will maybe feel that way. If we go to Season 3, maybe that would be a place where we would find her. So far, in Season 2, she’s more proactive. She’s more active than reactive. In Season 1, she witnessed this crime, she started cleaning for the mob, and she was in survival mode. A few months later, or a year later, she knows her environment, and she makes more conscious decisions. That’s the evolution for Thony. A lot of things are happening. She’s trying to help Garrett. She’s trying to help Arman. There’s just so much going on. This season, I felt Thony was on auto autopilot. When it’s just one thing after another, sometimes you don’t let things land on you so much because you have to keep going on. I’m hoping that, at some point, things are going to explode because it needs to impact her in a really deep way. But I don’t know where it’s going.

How did you view the evolution in the dynamic between Thony and Arman, this season? Did it feel like they became closer in the second season, or do you feel like their relationship has changed in other ways?

YUNG: There’s an unspoken understanding of each other there. They’re less strangers to each other. At first, it was more of a cat-and-mouse type of relationship where they were attracted to each other, but not really understanding why. Everything is unspoken, but they see themselves in the other person and become a team. Arman had a great arc this season, where you really saw him breaking down and trying to get out of the situation. He doesn’t have the answers for all of that, and she’s trying to help. They definitely more partners than they were, initially.

Image via Fox

What was it like to shoot that big final shootout, when Garrett gets fatally hit? What was it like to be part of the action in a way that’s different from when you’ve been the one physically doing the fighting?

YUNG: It was fun. I’ve been on projects where I really had to train for lots of very high level and dangerous stunts, and there’s always a risk. Even if they say it’s super safe, I triple check everything because I’ve been in situations. But this production is really good, and it was fun. You fake it. You’re on a motorcycle, but really, you’ve got 10 people looking at you, pulling you from a truck with two cameras on you, and you have to pretend that a bullet is almost hitting you. Those days are really like a puzzle. The way we shoot it is probably not as exciting as when you watch the sequence because it’s just a little bit at a time, but it was fun. The drama and everything that Thony’s going through is most of what I really enjoy. I’m lazy, these days. I call my good friend, and she comes because she’s an amazing stunt person, and she’s happy to do her amazing work. But I know Adan [Canto] had a good time. That just felt like a boys’ day. I was like, “Okay, guys, have fun. I’ve done it.”

What’s it like to shoot a character death scene with a cast member who’s been there since the beginning, and you know it’s the last moment you’re going to have with them, as a character, on the show? How was it to shoot that final death scene with Garrett?

YUNG: Oh, my gosh, I tried everything to not have that. I just love Oliver [Hudson] so much. I don’t usually plan anything of what I’m doing in scenes, but for that particular moment at his funeral, with his wife and son there, and Agent Russo, Thony feels responsible. There was a trust there, and then this happened, and part of her feels responsible, but I really didn’t want to make it about Thony. I made a pact with myself that I was not gonna let myself be emotional in that very moving moment. It was bizarre because we were in a real cemetery with people who were all volunteers, like the people who folded the flag. It was very solemn, but I just didn’t want to shed a tear because I didn’t want it to be about her. We needed space for his wife and Agent Russo, who loved him, and space for him to be buried.

And Oliver was present at his own funeral that day. He was like, “You’re not gonna cry?!” And then, in between the takes, I would tear up and cry because it just made me so sad that it was the end of his character. It was such a beautiful partnership. I loved working with him so much. So, in real life, I cried. In the scene, I refused to cry. I’m gonna suggest to the showrunners and to Fox that, if we’re really successful in 10 years, we should have his twin brother show up and try to figure out what happened to his brother, so that we could have Oliver back. At some point, that would be great. I’m gonna pitch a few things.

Image via Fox

Fiona gets sent away, at the end of the finale, and even though Thony has Luca, there’s now this different hole in her family. If you do get to do a third season, how different of a fight do you think that will be for Fiona?

YUNG: This time, she’s been deported, so the question is, how is she gonna come back? Is she gonna come back? Our characters have evolved. In Season 1, Fiona was lied to because Thony doesn’t tell her what she’s doing. In Season 2, Fiona is involved in anything that Thony is doing. That had to impact her and make her grow, in a certain way. And now, she’s deported, so how is that going to affect her? There are so many great things that they can write about that. I’m very excited about how, if it goes to Season 3, we can start with that. How is she feeling? How is she going to fight? Is she going to fight to come back? She’s a mother. How is she going to react to Thony? I don’t know. There are so many things that we could explore, so it’s exciting.

Are there other things that you would still like to see the show explore or tackle? Are you already having conversations about what you would like to see in a possible third season?

YUNG: No. I am not a producer or writer on the show, so I’m not really part of that. I’m very involved in the scripts, once they land on my table. That’s where I can really work with the showrunners and the writers. We have conversations. I have a million ideas, but I’m not gonna say, “Let’s do this.” I’m not part of those conversations right now, but I’m sure that they’re gonna cook up some good stuff for us. Let’s wait and see. I hope we’ll get to do a Season 3.

Thony has done all these things to save her son and protect her son, but her decisions have led to some bad things happening. Do you think she should face any punishment for any of what she’s done?

YUNG: I can’t judge my character. I can’t judge this person. It’s she’s caught by the law, then she’ll probably go to a trial, and we’ll see what happens. How I feel about everything she’s going through, I feel for her. I feel with her. I am there. We’re holding hands. I know her good decisions, and I know her bad decisions, but I can only approach her with empathy. That’s the only way I can approach any character. I just need to have empathy for what she’s going through, and I want her to feel human. Things need to impact her because otherwise she becomes a sociopath, if she’s never getting hurt by any of her actions or her decisions. She’s not unconscious, she’s just in autopilot mode, trying to get through the fire. I just want her to burn her wings. But punishment or not, I’m not a judge, so I don’t think that way. I just want her to carry on being human and real.

Image via Fox

It makes me wonder if she ever gets done with it all, whether she’ll collapse, or go on a vacation, or what she would do next?

YUNG: Those are really great questions. I’m really hoping that, at some point, we will see something like that because I wanna see what’s underneath her shell. This is a facade. She’s drowning, so she’s just carrying on. It’s denial, almost. That’s how I had to relate to it because it was so much. I know that, for myself, when I’m so affected by things, and I have been in the past, I have this armor. For her, it’s an armor, and it’s denial. Sometimes it cracks, and you see the crack. Her Achilles heel is her son. You need to see those moments where she has those cracks.

Well, I’m definitely rooting for Season 3.

YUNG: Yes, let’s hope. I really hope there’s more because I think there’s more to write about these people.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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