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Riley Keough and Sam Claflin on Making Memorable Music Together in Daisy Jones & the Six

The musical biopic genre may be a little tired lately, but dramas about fictional bands are always welcome, for my money, so I was eager to check out the new Prime Video series Daisy Jones & the Six, which basically feels like Almost Famous had Cameron Crowe‘s young surrogate been on tour with Fleetwood Mac.

An adaptation of Taylor Jenkins Reid‘s 2019 novel of the same name, Daisy Jones & the Six follows the rise of a rock band in the ’70s. The series is framed as a mock documentary as band members recall their journey 20 years after their final performance together.

The series hails from creators Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, who burst onto the scene a decade ago with The Spectacular Now. The director of that acclaimed indie also directed the first five episodes of Daisy Jones before Nzingha Stewart (Tall Girl) took over and directed four of the last five episodes, with Will Graham (Mozart in the Jungle) directing one as well.

Riley Keough (Zola) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) play Daisy Jones and Billy Dunne, the lead singers and defacto leaders of the fictional band. The two of them spoke to Above the Line about their undeniable stage presence, how they prepared for the series’ intense argument scenes, and the mementos they each took from the shoot.

Daisy Jones & the Six
Riley Keough in Daisy Jones & the Six/Prime Video

Above the Line: You guys are performing a lot in this show, and what stood out to me about both of you was your stage presence, which seems so natural. Did either of you seek inspiration from other bands and artists, or did you try to avoid modeling your performances based on actual rock legends?

Riley Keough: Yeah, I definitely looked up [stuff]. I watched so many videos of different performers during that era, specifically to watch their body movements, because something that I was really aware of was not doing things and [then] moving in a way that felt really modern. And so I wanted to see what women in that era were like on stage.

I mean, I think a lot of it came from the time we put into rehearsing. I think we ended up… I mean, I don’t know how confident you [Sam Claflin] felt, but I think we got to a place where our comfortability with the songs we were playing was authentic. And so I think that sort of comes through.

Sam Claflin: For me, I listened to and watched a lot of Bruce Springsteen in his earlier years. And Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac, Iggy Pop, [and] Jim Morrison. I mean, it kind of went all over the place, but then you sort of try and find a happy middle somewhere, but equally going back to the source material and knowing [that] what the character’s feeling in each particular song might be slightly different.

So some performances, [Billy] is a little more high-tempo, and [during] some songs, he’s withdrawn. So it was interesting kind of going on [that] rollercoaster journey.

Keough: You know, something that was really interesting was, at a certain point, we had a woman come in who was sort of a movement coach for people on stage. Something she noticed — which I thought was really funny — was that because half of our cast [is] British, she was saying they all like “move like Brits” and they need to be “more American.” Do you remember that? [laughs]

Claflin: The wide leg stance [smiles]. Yeah. That was a lot to [take in], but it was also like the headbanging thing, where I kept doing this [headbangs] and she’s like, ‘No, they didn’t really do that in the ’70s,’ I was like, ‘Oh, interesting [laughs]… okay.’ I’m used to listening [and] watching punk-rock, you know? So, very different.

Daisy Jones & the Six
Sam Claflin in Daisy Jones & the Six/Prime Video

ATL: It’s clear that the two of you had chemistry, but how did you guys build that rapport? You both seem like lovely people — and I know you’re acting — but did you ever find it hard to yell at the other person during scenes where you argue?

Keough: I don’t think so. I think we always had, like, a bit of a sense of humor, even through the more angry versions of Billy and Daisy [smiles], and before we’d go into a yelling scene, we’d both be like, “Fuck!” [laughs] Or, like, one time you were like, ‘Just push me,’ or something [laughs].

Claflin: ‘Just hit me, hit me.’ [laughs]

Keough: But it was all done with love. [smiles]

ATL: You both got to live through the ’70s while filming this show, so did either of you take any mementos from the set?

Claflin: I realized I took quite a lot without realizing…

Keough: [I] took a lot of clothes! [laughs]

Claflin: Did you really? [smiles]

Keough: [There were] a couple of things I might have… swiped. [laughs]

Claflin: [gasps] I think the clothes are all too tight for me normally [laughs]. I got gifted one of Billy’s guitars, which was pretty special.

Keough: I didn’t know that! Oh my gosh.

Claflin: Yeah, that was like my “Happy Wrap” gift. And I also stole a poster that went from, like, the floor to the ceiling of Aurora (Daisy Jones & the Six’s album), like [from] when we were playing in New Orleans. It was beautiful. It was a huge orange poster. I was like, “That’s gonna look great in my mom’s house. Not mine!”

Both: [laugh]

The first three episodes of Daisy Jones & the Six are now streaming on Prime Video.

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