Domhnall Gleeson Felt The Pressure Of Nailing The Patient's Dark Comedy

FX's "The Patient" has a great hook. Psychotherapist Dr. Alan Strauss (Steve Carell) wakes up in an unfamiliar location where his leg has been shackled to the bed. It turns out that one of his more distant patients, Sam (Domhnall Gleeson), has kidnapped him in order to help him soothe his serial killer urges before he kills again. With no immediate means of escape, Dr. Strauss has no other choice but to offer his own brand of guidance while trying to stay alive.

The psychological thriller from the producers behind "The Americans" is fraught with a quietly bubbling tension. This impossible scenario can go all sorts of ways given how little we know about Sam, and I can't wait to see how this mental sparring match between Carell and Gleeson unfolds. Only two episodes have been released from the miniseries, with plenty of room left to explore the odd dynamic that will likely brew between a killer and his captor. Imagine "Misery" but if the captor was a weasley Dexter Morgan.

With each episode of "The Patient" just barely cracking 20 minutes, there isn't a lot of time to waste. The tension is always high, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for some inspired bursts of dark comedy, especially with Carell's comedic sensibilities. But that also meant Gleeson felt as if he needed to be on the same level when the script called for it.

Steve Carell would wait until after shooting to give comedic props

During an interview with Decider, Gleeson spoke about how he felt there was an added level of pressure whenever something darkly funny came up in the script. It wasn't enough to be funny, but to let the moment stand on its own in a way that doesn't betray the character's demeanor:

"That puts a weird amount of pressure on saying it, and saying it in a way that can be truthful and funny. You can tie yourself in knots. And if on the day somebody says, "Oh, that's really funny" or "Can we make it funnier?" you can spiral really badly and start chasing a laugh or chasing a way that you did it before because somebody laughed on that one. The set was so amazing about never doing that."

From what I've seen so far, the inspired bits of humor in "The Patient" come about in a way that doesn't detract from the seriousness of this warped patient/therapist dynamic. There's a quietly hilarious moment where Sam gets up to pee while Dr. Strauss is contemplating the grave seriousness of his predicament. The shot holds on Carell's face, all while you hear the stream in the background, to the point where he's momentarily distracted by how long he's been doing his business.

Gleeson had nothing but kind words for Carell, who would often offer kind words about a funny delivery after the shoot was all wrapped up for the day:

"I was like, that's the way to do it. Never go in and say "That's really funny. Keep doing it that way." Always protect the space, keep it real. Keep trying new things. He's the best. He's the best."

The first two episodes of "The Patient" are currently streaming on Hulu.