Ben Stiller Stunned The Severance Cast With A Season 1 Surprise

"Severance" has as many twists and turns in its plot as there are hallways in its set. Despite how brightly illuminated these liminal spaces are on the Apple TV+ television series, it's never certain what waits around the corner of this labyrinth. Audiences weren't the only ones who didn't know what to expect, either. According to Adam Scott, who stars in the sci-fi thriller, director and executive producer Ben Stiller launched the infamous dance party sequence on the cast without telling them, meaning that the reactions of the characters, the actors, and the viewers are all have about the same level of surprise.

"Defiant Jazz," the seventh episode of the series (which has only one season so far, though thankfully a second is on the way), introduces one of the most disorienting WTF moments in a TV show that's full of them when creepy supervisor Seth Milchick rewards new hire Helly Riggs for her stellar macrodata refinement performance with a "Music Dance Experience" (or "MDE," in its corporate acronym). All of a sudden, the fluorescent white lights of the cubicle flash into colorful disco patterns set to the funky free jazz tune "Shakey Jake" by Joe McPhee. It's a scene that highlights the ways in which Lumon attempts to tame its workforce lest their drably dystopian office environment makes them too antsy and rebellious, which ironically means there's nothing defiant about the situation at all.

An awe-inspired (musical dance) experience

The entire dance sequence took two days to shoot and the actors were aware of the script, but the initial burst of colorful lights was kept a secret from the cast. In an interview on "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Adam Scott, who plays Mark Scout, explained that the reactions from the actors "marveling" at the spectacle were from people who were genuinely in awe of the radical change in pace. Filming for "Severance" took about nine months, many of which were spent in the same claustrophobic Lumon Industries set constructed in a South Bronx soundstage, so the MDE was a burst of visual and audio vibrancy for a group of people who were, in the words of Scott, "trapped" in the same dreary office space for weeks on end.

Part of the reason for the cast's surprise is that there were previously no signs that the harsh office ceiling lights even had the capability to turn into dance club strobes. It took the lighting crew nearly a month to program the lights this way after the gaffer discovered how to properly manipulate and tweak the dimmer board. Contrasting with the blindingly white walls and nauseatingly green carpet, the MDE was a welcome respite for both the fictional characters and the real-life actors of "Severance," even if it was all still part of an elaborate illusion.