Josh Lucas on playing in Palm Royale's "fun comedy lab" (2024)

In Apple TV+’s star-studded show Palm Royale, picking out a favorite performer isn’t easy considering it features Kristen Wiig, Allison Janney, Laura Dern, Carol Burnett, Leslie Bibb, and Ricky Martin. So it’s no wonder Josh Lucas, who co-stars in the dramedy, agrees that it’s a “comedy lab” of sorts. The actor holds his own in Abe Sylvia’s ’60s-set series, which drops its finale on May 8.

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Palm Royale’s wacky comedy emerges from the women of Palm Beach attempting to climb society’s social ladder. But its heart really lies in the messy yet warm marriage between Maxine Simmons (Wiig) and Douglas Delacorte (Lucas). They navigate various complexities throughout the show—moving back to Douglas’ hometown, reconnecting with his just-out-of-a-coma aunt, dealing with money problems and relationship woes. Underneath all of that is a surprisingly sweet dynamic that makes it easy to root for the Delacorte-Simmonses.


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Lucas talked with The A.V. Club about developing Douglas’ character, what lies ahead for Yellowstone, and, yes, his 2002 rom-com Sweet Home Alabama.


The A.V. Club: How aware were you of Douglas’ arc when you joined the show? He progressively becomes a crucial part of Maxine’s story and Palm Beach as the series progresses.


Josh Lucas: I wasn’t aware at all. That was part of it, right? In the beginning, there’s the question of whether he’s Maxine’s fantasy. Does he exist in her brain, or is the whole thing something she’s made up? What sets television apart is that the writers can get together and see what’s working as they craft the story. I do know that they had a sense of what Douglas would be. I keep saying he’s the Golden Retriever puppy dog who’s not very bright. He’s causing a lot of problems and ripping the house apart. But he’s got a great heart and deeply loves Maxine.

I think the writers saw this and the relationship between them as paramount to the story. Obviously, when they got Carol Burnett, it set the show into a different reality. I think the original idea going into it was that [her character] Norma Delacorte would be in a coma throughout the whole series. You can’t leave Carol Burnett in a coma. That allowed us to develop a lot of history between Norma and Douglas and the world he comes from as well. Watching how they did that and getting to play it was so much fun.


AVC: Speaking of Carol Burnett, the Palm Royale cast is top-tier. What was the on-set experience? It sounds like a fun comedy lab.

JL: A fun lab for comedy is a great way to put it. It was an embarrassment of riches. It was kind of bizarre and intimidating because you have this powerful force of actors. Allison Janney and Laura Dern are Oscar winners. Kristen Wiig is a legendary comedic talent. Of course, we’re blessed with Carol Burnett. And everyone was bringing their A-game. It was like a daily heavyweight boxing match where people were so prepared. Everyone was deeply dedicated to making the show something very special. And we also really liked each other. So it was a very unusual environment. It was playful, fun, and challenging because we wanted to push each other to make it better and better and better.


AVC: What can you share about developing Maxine and Douglas’ romantic dynamic and where it takes them by the end of the show?

JL: I keep describing the show as a rocket ship sitting on the tarmac. Once it takes off, it takes off and it explodes. There are so many intertwining, kaleidoscopic stories that are messy, wonderful, chaotic, and dramatic. There are comparisons to The White Lotus, Mad Men, and Desperate Housewives. And I get it. But it’s unique. With Douglas and Maxine, they love each other, but they bring chaos into each other’s lives. They’re like Bonnie and Clyde gone haywire comedically. They have each other’s best interests at heart, but can never seem to do the right thing.


Everything they get involved in goes wrong because they’re always trying some get-rich-quick schemes. Maxine obviously in the very beginning is stealing Norma’s clothes and jewels to wear or sell. There’s a minor criminal element to everything that Douglas and Maxine do. They’re survivors. That’s one of the reasons they love each other so much and they found each other. They’re kindred spirits. And maybe that’s not the best thing. They get into worse and worse trouble as we approach the finale. It goes haywire in the end.

Josh Lucas on playing in Palm Royale's "fun comedy lab" (1)


AVC: Do you have any Douglas scenes you’ve loved acting in because they capture who he is as a person?

JL: There are a couple of them, like the storyline set in the 1940s that explores the past where Douglas takes Maxine flying on her plane on a date. It’s interesting to see that’s his way to seduce a woman. And then something happens between them when they’re on the plane and it’s so lovely. One of the things I’m always surprised by with this show is that as much as it’s comedic and silly, there’s always this underbelly of heart, pain, and pathos to both of their pasts. It gives them real depth and history. I also love how the show starts rolling out how much chaos Douglas caused in Palm Beach over the past 20 years, especially when he disappeared to go and marry Maxine.


AVC: What was it like to go back in time in a way with the costumes and set designs since Palm Royale is set in 1969?

JL: I love Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It’s Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece. It’s such a visually beautiful movie of this historical time in Hollywood. I think our show has a similar kind of flavor to it in terms of its beauty. It’s in this super-rich world of Palm Beach, Florida in the late 1960s. What’s fun about Palm Royale is the world these people live in is so vapid and empty when, in reality, the rest of the country was exploding with the civil rights movement and women’s rights movement. That’s the Laura Dern character and how she’s trying to pull Maxine into that world, so it’s nice to see that side of it. It’s also fun to watch how Maxine has no interest in all that. Neither does Douglas. The last thing the wealthy people want is to know about politics or the suffering going on in the world.


AVC: During Palm Royale’s Television Critics Association panel earlier this year, you mentioned that you were juggling filming this show with Yellowstone season five. These are two completely different tones. What was that like?

JL: Yeah. Palm Royale is this wild comedy with extraordinary women and, as we said, crazy and wonderful costumes and sets. I would film that during the week and then leave Friday night, take two flights to Montana, arrive on Saturday morning, slap on the mustache, go get on a horse, and do what I studied a lot to put on Kevin Costner’s John Dutton growl—you know, the thing that he does as Dutton. But also, I wanted to get Kevin’s performance so that people saw the symmetry between these two characters.


But yes, it was manic and bipolar to go between the two, do Yellowstone for the weekend, and then fly back for Palm Royale. But it’s also one of those weird high moments in your career where you think, “I can’t believe I get these two challenges that couldn’t have been more different.” People love Yellowstone worldwide. I’m hoping people have the same response to Palm Royale. Obviously, it’s a completely different kind of show, but at the end of the day, we make entertainment. Hopefully, people love the entertainment and the characters. I think that’s why Yellowstone hit so hard. People love the relationship between Rip [Cole Hauser] and Beth [Kelly Reilly]. I hope people love the relationship between Maxine and Douglas and the battles that happen in the show with these women.

AVC: With Yellowstone ending with season five, do you know if you’re returning for the final few episodes of the show?


JL: I’m a fan of Yellowstone and loved being a part of it, but I was a very, very small part of it in the beginning as they were telling John Dutton’s story. I would even love to see him in his twenties and find a younger actor to play him during that time. There was a period of his life before he became this broken, angry man. In the time I’m playing him, there’s still a phase for a while where John’s wife is alive and this family unit deeply cares for each other. Her death sets him into such a painful reality and it’s why Beth becomes who she is. I love the flashbacks because I love seeing how all that began. Taylor Sheridan has created such a wonderful world of generations, all the way back seven generations actually with his spinoffs. It’s personal to him. It’s a fictional story but it has crazy, deep truth to it based on the people and cowboys he knows and the history of his ranch and of the West and America.

I’ve been told by Taylor we’re going back to do some, whether it’s six episodes or more, I don’t know exactly. I’m told we will do more flashbacks to fill out the story and where John was. Before I started the fifth season, I knew they were going to dive a lot more into the past story and John Dutton’s history. So I genuinely fell in love with the show as a fan again. I binge-watched all the episodes and soaked in as much as I could of the work that Taylor had done creating John Dutton and Kevin had done performing him. And so I wanted the audience to see and believe, even though Kevin and I don’t look much alike, that they’re watching the same character. It meant a lot to me.

AVC: You co-starred in the beloved 2000s rom-com Sweet Home Alabama. Have you revisited the film at all? Do you feel like we’re not getting those kinds of movies today?


JL: I’m always surprised why there aren’t more rom-coms. People love them. What are movies for if not romance? Sweet Home Alabama was such a special movie to make, especially because it has lasted the way it has. People do still care about it. It’s become a classic. I revisited it recently and was struck by how lovely and good it was. All the great ones, like When Harry Met Sally, were back in the day. I wish there were more of them.

AVC: What are your current TV obsessions? Or are there TV shows you love that you’d want to guest star in?


JL: I got into the reality crime documentary genre, so it’s weird but, right now, it’s The Jinx. It’s such a great docuseries about Robert Durst. I also watched Paradise Lost recently. It’s about intense, difficult child killings in Arkansas. But I’m also a big comedy fan, so I’d love to be on The White Lotus,The Bear, or Abbott Elementary. I love what Quinta’s doing with it. My little boy loves animated kids shows that we watch together, so I’d be up for doing Paw Patrol as well [laughs].

AVC: Do you have a project of yours you think is underrated?

JL: Oh yeah, Glory Road. It’s my favorite movie I’ve ever made. It’s such a great story about the 1966 first all-black basketball team. It’s very well-made and based on a true story. It’s a beautiful Jerry Bruckheimer film. It recently got into the Basketball Hall of Fame yet I know a lot of people who’ve never seen it.

Josh Lucas on playing in Palm Royale's "fun comedy lab" (2024)
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