Marriage – Meet the creator Stefan Golaszewski

Marriage follows married couple Ian (Sean Bean) and Emma (Nicola Walker) as they negotiate the ups and downs of their 30-year marriage.

We see them dealing with the insecurities, the ambiguities, the hopes and the fears that are part of all marriages, as the drama explores the risks and the gifts of a long-term intimate relationship. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always revealing.

Written and directed by Stefan Golaszewski, the executive producers are Tommy Bulfin for the BBC, Beth Willis and George Faber for The Forge and Richard Laxton and Stefan Golaszewski for The Money Men. The producer is Lyndsay Robinson (Him and Her, Mum).

Cast and Crew credits

Sean Bean – Ian
Nicola Walker – Emma
Chantelle Alle – Jessica
James Bolam – Gerry
Henry Lloyd-Hughes – Jamie
Jack Holden – Adam
Stefan Golaszewski – Writer, Creator, Director and Executive Producer
Beth Willis – Executive Producer for The Forge Entertainment
George Faber – Executive Producer for The Forge Entertainment
Richard Laxton – Executive Producer for The Money Men
Tommy Bulfin – Executive Producer for the BBC
Lyndsay Robinson – Producer

Stefan Golaszewski is the writer, creator and director and executive producer of Marriage

Hi Stefan. What’s the premise of Marriage?

Marriage is a show about a couple and how they get through things together. I guess I’m trying to write about what it is actually like to be a person instead of what it is like on television or in fiction. People find things difficult and they don’t really know what they feel. They think they feel one thing but often feel something else. They often don’t know what to say to each other, which seems to be like a more truthful depiction of what it is like to be a person.

In the show, that’s what I’m trying to do – connect with the audience about what it’s like to be them and live their lives in a minute-by-minute way as opposed to a broad plot thrusting way. Digging into the minute and tiny moments to find the dramas and tensions in the way that we as people live our lives – moment by moment. We don’t experience life as big thunderstorms, it’s more like constant drizzle, and that’s what the show explores.

What or who were your influences when creating this show?

I would say more novelists and musicians than film makers or playwrights. People like Zola, George Eliot, Bach, and Stravinsky. Their work has blown me in a different direction.

Who are the main protagonists in Marriage?

Sean Bean plays Ian. He’s recently been made redundant, his mum has died and he’s in a turning point of his life, where things are changing for him in the notion of who he is. Nicola Walker plays Emma, who has plans of what she wants to do with her career and looks after her dad.

Chantelle Alle plays Jessica, who has found herself in a relationship with Adam which isn’t very healthy and is trying to find her way out of that, but in doing so is discovering things about herself. James Bolam plays Gerry – he’s stuck at home and is trying to control whatever and how little he can. Henry Lloyd-Hughes plays Jamie. He can do a good pirouette but the ice he is skating on is very thin…

Tell us about casting Nicola and Sean.

Casting Nicola and Sean was great as I was able to rewrite the scripts with them in mind and strip away as much dialogue as I could, knowing I had two amazing actors who could do all that for me, which I prefer. I like having as few words as possible for a scene.

Tell us about the humour in Marriage…

The reason why the stuff I write tends to be funny or an irony really is a reflection of the fact that the world is fundamentally ridiculous and everything in it is pointless – but the only thing that isn’t is love, and the connection between people. If I think about it that’s probably the thing that connects everything I’ve written; there’s a central focus on seeking togetherness.

How important is detail to you in this show?

I think it is very important for this kind of writing that what we shoot is absolutely what I wrote down to ‘erm’ or ‘err’, ‘yes’ or ‘yeah’. Without that specificity, when I get in the edit, I’m not able to tell the same story. When your plot lines are as minimal as these are and based on such tiny shifts of emotion or mood, you have to have the absolute pinpoint tools to tell that story. If a line has got the words muddled in the wrong way or if it’s slightly altered, that can really change the story.

So much of what I do is done on implication and inference, and it’s a very specific game. You need all that to be as written, so I am very specific on the script. Actors tend to be very generous as they have read them and understood the nature of what it is, and come on board with that. I’m sure they get annoyed at me for telling them what they have said and when they should have said something else, but they are always very gracious and patient with me.

What inspired you to write Marriage?

What inspired the show was seeing the world full of beautiful things, where people fall in love and then do their best to be together. I think there’s something really gorgeous about humans and worth celebrating.

What do you hope audiences take from Marriage?

I hope that the audience will connect with it and feel that it reflects what it’s like to be them, and that it reflects the warmth, humour and the shared world view that you have in a relationship. The shared moments and joys, but potential for frustration and the impossibilities of it. When people get married they make a completely impossible pledge to be together happily for the rest of their lives, and no one can do that, yet everyone tries. That’s what makes it a beautiful thing. In a marriage you are spending all day every day trying to make this thing work that really shouldn’t. It’s impossible to live with one person all day every day for the rest of your life, but you try it because you love each other and it’s worth it and worth trying for.

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PBS NewsHour: December 22, 2021 / 22 Dec 2021 PBS