Sharon Horgan is facing a “Catastrophe-shaped hole” as she says an “emotional” goodbye to the Channel 4 and Amazon comedy.
Horgan, speaking to Deadline from the Hollywood Hills, is doing the rounds to mark the end of the series that she created and co-starred with Rob Delaney as she prepares a slew of new projects to fill the hole, including U.S. and UK projects and her first moves into directing.
The show, which is produced by Avalon Television and her own indie Merman as well as Delaney’s Birdbath Productions, ended earlier this year after four seasons and is being tipped to pick up its first Emmy nomination since being nominated in 2016 for comedy writing and a guest actress nomination for the late Carrie Fisher.
“I still feel kind of emotional [about ending the show]. I guess this is our last blast with it. I guess I have to put it all to bed and stop and move on. But that’s the weird thing, to do something for so many years and be invested in it and then it’s gone and I’ll have a Catastrophe-shaped hole,” she said.
The show ended on a slightly bittersweet moment as Delaney’s eponymous character discovers his mother Mia, played by Fisher, has died. “As we were working out the final season, we needed to figure out how to say goodbye. Carrie was such a huge presence in the world, not just on our show, she was a globally loved actress and human being, so it was a tough thing that we didn’t want to just wrap up and put a bow on, we felt it had to impact in a different way and we wanted to honor her.”
The final scenes see Rob and Sharon argue at Mia’s funeral with Rob expressing sadness about the marriage and his life in London before telling Sharon that he’s been offered a job in the U.S. that Sharon, who reveals that she is pregnant again, is open to. The pair then swim off into the sea.
“I’m amazed we got to end it [how we wanted] and hopefully we pulled it off. The ending has had a really amazing response, it helped elevate the sadness of it. It felt like a bloody hell moment that people invested so much, it created an instant debate about what happened,” she said.
The final moment in the sea was slightly ambiguous but Horgan said that she wanted audiences to make up their own mind. “You can decide whether it’s a metaphor for their relationship, or whether it’s just a beautiful image or you can decide that they get themselves in trouble or you can imagine the absolute worst catastrophe of all but to me, in my head, they got back to the shore. It’s important that it’s ambiguous. Endings are really tricky, finishing something that has been around for a few years is difficult for the people writing it, you feel like a debt of gratitude to the audience and you want to make sure you don’t short change them. For me, the idea that there’s story beyond, was important.”
Horgan admitted that she hasn’t had the chance to miss the series yet. “I’m a bit nervous of when that is, it might hit me like a ton of bricks.” It comes as the pair held an Emmy FYC event in April at the Hollywood Athletic Club, where the Emmys were first held in 1949. “Because it’s the last season, we want to make sure we give it a shot. We’re proud of the show and it’s the last chance we’ll get. [Awards] are very weird… I’ve got huge mixed feelings. I know how it operates and it’s crazy to feel too happy or too sad one way or the other because there are so many reasons why something might garner a bunch of [awards]. And I’m saying that from the perspective of someone who has won a bunch of them…it’s completely weird, you can’t judge yourself on them,” she added.
Horgan revealed that Catastrophe owes its beginnings to two failed pilots that she was working on in the U.S. In 2013, ABC piloted her David Spade-fronted pilot Bad Management as well as a second attempt to remake her British comedy Pulling. Neither project was picked up to series but her and Delaney had spent time during this process “dicking about in an office”, leading to them securing Catastrophe.
The Irish-born multi-hyphenate is now working on a raft of other projects. Shooting just started on the second season of her British comedy Motherland, which she writes and Lionsgate has international rights, she is producing Australian period comedy Frayed for Sky and Australia’s ABC, Hulu just boarded This Way Up, the Aisling Bea-fronted comedy that she is producing and co-starring in, while Amazon has given a script-to-series commitment to a comedy series that she will likely star in alongside Game Night co-star Billy Magnussoen, and the SVOD service is developing Dirty, a morally complex drama in association with Peaky Blinders producer Caryn Mandabach Productions, Kapital Entertainment and Safe writer Danny Brocklehurst.
Horgan, who is the second year of her overall deal with Amazon Studios, also recently worked on an animated comedy Therapy Dog for Fox and wrote and directed an episode of Amazon’s Modern Love for Tina Fey and John Slattery.
In features, Military Wives, which she stars in alongside Kristin Scott Thomas, is in post-production, she is making her feature directorial debut on Focus Features’ drama New World and she is writing female-fronted drama Herself, set against the housing crisis, with The Favourite producer Element Pictures.
Horgan said that certain projects she is keen to write and direct, others she prefers to star in, then she can flex different muscles by producing through Merman. “Writing is something that’s with me all of the time. I’m always kind of writing. That’s in my DNA. But at the same time, the acting thing, if I go too without doing it, I do feel a bit crazy, it is a relief to go off and be someone else for a while and with the producing, I just find it very hard not to get excited about talented people and I want to work with them and make what they have in their heads.”
She added that there are plenty of other ideas in various other stages and would love to do make more shows in Ireland, having grown up in Drogheda and County Meath.
“There’s a couple of things that have been percolating for a few years that maybe now we’re not doing Catastrophe will raise its head again,” she added. “I need to inhabit another form, or find another vessel.”
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