The finale episode of the first season of HBO's "The Righteous Gemstones" will air on Sunday, with a second season promised by the network.
Filmed in the Charleston area, the Danny McBride comedy series sought hundreds of local crew members, actors and extras to be a part of the production. A few of them chatted with The Post and Courier about their experiences on set.
Jen Hazelip was an actress in Los Angeles and New York City before settling down with her family in Summerville seven years ago. There, she owns and operates Impact Creative Arts Academy, a dance, musical theater and acting school, with her husband Robert, who has appeared in "Army Wives" and "Law and Order."
In "The Righteous Gemstones," she stars as Pam, a recurring actress in the main group of church gal pals that run in the same circle as Jesse's (Danny McBride) wife, Amber (Cassidy Freeman).
"Even though I had a smaller role, it was a good group," Hazelip says. "Everyone was just fun to work with, super welcoming and friendly."
She said she filmed in April for a couple of days and then again at the end of May and for the first two weeks in June. During that time, she went to a variety of Charleston locations, from the North Charleston Coliseum to some "beautiful Lowcountry homes."
She says she spent a lot of time with Freeman, in addition to McBride and Jody Hill. She also got to meet John Goodman, Adam DeVine and Edi Patterson.
"They’re very generous with their improv opportunities," Hazelip shares. "The director would say, 'Jen, I really liked when you did this last time. Let's build on this.' It's always nice when you feel valued because of your work and thought process."
In the last episode, the audience will see her group of women "dealing with our husbands," she says.
Many of the students at her arts academy were extras on the show, Hazelip adds. She says she hopes that McBride and crew can keep bringing work to the area.
"As a mom with three kids and a business, if the next season goes to a different state, it would be a challenge to do that," she says, adding, "Of course, I would make it work."
Sara Tanis Giannelli, manager of Mount Pleasant stationery and gift shop The Scratch Pad, also was in "The Righteous Gemstones," but as an extra with no lines. She says she hopes she'll get to deliver a line next season.
Giannelli, 45, says that when the call for extras went out, she replied with a headshot and info. She got the callback. She says she was in a variety of scenes, from the "Misbehavin'" song performance by Aimee-Leigh Gemstone (Jennifer Nettles) to the Easter Sunday service.
She spent a few days on set. One was particularly long; she remembers arriving at 7 a.m. with about 250 other extras, getting her hair and makeup done and then waiting around most of the day for a variety of scenes. She says she didn't leave until 2 a.m. In the meantime, she says she was well-fed and had fun mingling with other extras; she's still friends with a few of them.
She also saw some of the stars backstage.
"Danny McBride and Cassidy Freeman were so funny," she says. "They would stick their tongues out at each other and goof off."
She says it was fascinating to watch the process behind the scenes, and she loved trying to figure out the plot with the few clips she saw.
"You won't watch TV the same," she says.