‘The Patient’: Steve Carell Got ‘Weirdly Comfortable’ Wearing a Shackle as the Props Team Forgot to Unlock Him

Actors have to put up with a lot to deliver the perfect on-screen performances, but it seems like Steve Carrell is good at rolling with the punches. The 60-year-old actor recently revealed that, while on the set of FX and Hulu’s The Patient, he was so comfortable wearing shackles that the prop team often forgot to take them off. 

What is ‘The Patient’ about?

Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell attend FX's "The Patient" Season 1 Premiere
The Patient stars Domhnall Gleeson and Steve Carell | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

The psychological thriller tells the story of a therapist named Dr. Alan Strauss (Carell), who is taken hostage by Sam Fortner, a new patient (Domhnall Gleeson). Fortner chains Strauss to his basement floor before revealing that he is a serial killer. 

The twist? Fortner wants to stop killing people. He thinks that, with the help of a full-time therapist, he can put an end to his homicidal tendencies. While counseling Fortner and attempting to save potential victims, Strauss and the killer forge a connection and learn more about each other’s lives. 

“That, to me, was really intriguing, because it wasn’t a black or white examination of two people,” Carell told USA Today. “There was a great deal of gray area, and that’s the kind of thing that appeals to me: when you can’t really put your finger on who a person is at any given moment. How [Strauss and Fortner] interact is always surprising.” 

How ‘The Patient’ creators came up with the idea for the psychological thriller

The Patient was created by the masterminds behind FX’s The Americans, Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg. The idea came to the pair quite naturally; both had experienced therapy. They were intrigued by the drama that comes from spilling your innermost thoughts to a stranger. 

“We thought, ‘Is there a way to add a thriller element that ratchets up the stakes and makes it fun but doesn’t knock out the realism and truth about therapy?'” Weisberg explained. “I did have to run [the idea] by my therapist, but I think I mostly just got a smile and a little bit of a chuckle. The subtext is too obvious to actually need exploration.” 

Steve Carell felt ‘weirdly comfortable’ being shackled to the floor for his scenes

While the drama demands a lot from its stars, Carell maintained that the most difficult part of his performance was learning how to move with the shackle on his ankle for scenes in the basement with Fortner. 

“If you make too sudden a movement, you cut yourself and start to mess up your ankle,” Carell said of the experience. However, once he got used to being chained to the set floor, the actor found it “comfortable.” 

“I did feel weirdly more comfortable with it on,” Carell told USA Today. “Even when I was off camera, I put it on because it just felt different.” The actor also felt that keeping the shackle would give more authenticity to his performance because his character “knows he can’t move in more than an 8-foot semicircle, at most.” 

Carell wasn’t the only one who got very used to the chain around his ankle. According to him, the rest of the crew would sometimes forget it was even there. They’d even forget to unlock it.

“There were a couple of times that I was among the last to get food because props had already made a beeline to catering,” Carell laughed. 

Fans and critics are heaping praise on ‘The Patient’

The Patient hasn’t ended yet, but critic and fan responses ensure it will be noticed come awards season. 

“It may not be the most uplifting series you’ll watch this year, but it’s certainly one of the most thought-provoking and absorbing,” Vulture told readers. So far, The Patient holds an 86% score on Rotten Tomatoes from both critics and fans. 

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