Allison Janney and Leslie Bibb on ‘Palm Royale,’ Suffering Through Their 1960s Looks and Playing Wordle With Carol Burnett

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Palm Royale with its meticulously matched period décor and costuming is a true immersion in late 1960s Palm Beach culture. But while watching the Apple TV+ series, one can’t help but see the connections between the topics that were emerging as national concerns then and the biggest social issues now.

“It’s so cool to think about how far we’ve come as women and that we have so many options today, but 1969 isn’t that long ago,” says Leslie Bibb, who stars in the Kristen Wiig-starring comedy as Dinah, a woman desperate to maintain her wealthy status after marrying for money rather than love. “It’s not that far back that women’s rights weren’t an issue.”

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For the women of the Palm Royale country club that the series orbits around, including newbie Maxine (Wiig), they still aren’t an issue — even in the face of warnings from Linda (Laura Dern), an organizer of a women’s group “dedicated to raising the collective consciousness of global sisterhood” that change is on the horizon.

That conversation bled off screen when, during production on the series, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

“Abortion reversed while we were filming this and it was so interesting to be like, ‘Oh my God, we’re in a time when abortion wasn’t legal’ in 1969, and then go, ‘Oh, wow, it just changed,’” Bibb tells THR in the conversation below when speaking alongside Allison Janney, who portrays Evelyn, a seasoned member of the Palm Beach inner circle vying for Norma’s (Carol Burnett) top social stature. “There’s a lot of people, these women in particular, who want to hold on to the past and they don’t want to move to the future. And that is a theme that is very much in our world right now,” Janney tells THR.

Below, Bibb and Janney talk about the mirroring of the show’s 1960s issues to today, working with their idols Wiig and Burnett (and playing Wordle), and the sisterhood to be found amid Palm Beach high society.


Tate Taylor said he called you, Allison Janney, about this role as soon as he came on board. What did he say in that conversation that made you say yes?

ALLISON JANNEY He said, “Cowgirl, you’re gonna do this show.” And I was like, “Alright.” Tate usually just calls me up and says, “You’re doing this.” He also told me who was involved, and I’ve always wanted to work with Kristen Wiig. Then I got on the phone with Abe Sylvia, the showrunner who created the show, and I just fell in love with him and loved his ideas and the things he told me about Evelyn’s character. I thought, “Oh, what fun. She’ll be really great to play.” And then as I learned the other cast members who were joining us, Leslie and I have always wanted to work together, we’ve adored each other for a long time, and Laura Dern, of course, and Carol Burnett.

LESLIE BIBB Somebody just said to Allison, “Do you know that four years ago you were on Jimmy Kimmel and you said Carol Burnett’s your idol and ‘we’re going to work together one day’?” And she has no recollection of saying it. She was seeing into the future; you’re Nostradamus.

What was it like being on set with her?

JANNEY I just keep pinching myself that I was standing next to her. It was wonderful.

BIBB They play Wordle together every day.

JANNEY Every day she texts me and it’s the most exciting text I get all day. I’m sorry to everybody else. She beats me most times, but I don’t care. Carol can beat me anytime. It’s just fun to be connected to her in that way. What I really loved about her was that she was as professional as I was hoping she was. She shows up, even if she doesn’t have lines, she’s there. And she’s there for you as another actor. She’s divine.

BIBB She is divine. A lot of my scenes were with Kristen and Kristen is a hero of mine. I left this job a better actor having gotten the luck to be on these sets with these women; watching them work, and being led by Kristen, Laura, and Jayme [Lemons], because they really know how to run a show. Abe Sylvia and our writing team write the most delicious words. You don’t get that lucky. I never really was like, “Oh God, I gotta go to work.” It was like, “I gotta go to work!” Even sitting there with wigs and hair and makeup — it was a long time — and you’re sitting there and the clothes, as beautiful as they are, I’m just gonna say, bras weren’t as comfortable back then. Bathing suits didn’t have a lot of give. Lycra wasn’t a thing. So it could be uncomfortable, but it just held you in a way.

JANNEY It was worth it to go through the pain of what I had to do with five wigs on my head and all of the makeup and costumes that sometimes weighed a lot too, because I knew how great it looked. I was willing to go through anything, suffer anything to get to look like I did.

The women of Palm Royale reflect the ideologies of a very specific place at a particular point in time. What’s important for audiences to understand about them? Do they care about more than money and status?

BIBB Well, that’s the trick, right? What Laura, Jayme, and Abe did was take the book and surround that world with all of these things that are happening in the larger world. Martin Luther King has just been killed, we’re going to the moon, the Vietnam War, women’s rights are a big issue coming up. There’s all of this stuff happening in society around this little enclave of women who don’t want to change, and you have the voice of Laura and Amber [Chardae Robinson] who are constantly driving in that the world is changing, buckle up. And slowly, they do. At the same time, you have what’s happening in the world today that seems like it’s so different, but I don’t know that it is. So that was fascinating. Abortion reversed while we were filming this and it was so interesting to be like, “Oh my God, we’re in a time when abortion wasn’t legal” in 1969, and then go, “Oh, wow, it just changed.”

JANNEY There’s a lot of people, these women in particular, who want to hold on to the past and they don’t want to move to the future. And that is a theme that is very much in our world right now with countries that don’t want to move forward and others that do. What’s causing a lot of friction is those people who don’t want to, who want to hold on to the past.

BIBB And what they did so brilliantly is they put it in this cotton candy-wrapped world that you get lost in, and you walk away and you’re sort of thinking about the world and then suddenly you go, “Oh, wait, that’s what she was saying.” “Oh, that’s what he was saying.” I think it’s provocative on that level. The themes come at you from the side. They’re not bashing you over the head or wagging their finger at you. At least I hope that’s what we do.

How does that resistance to change play out in their dynamics with the other women in their social circle? I don’t think we can consider them friends exactly.

JANNEY Well, keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, right? They’re all in competition with one another to make the most money for their charities, to be seen on the front page of the Shiny Sheet. That’s very important to these women, their place in society. And that’s all that matters to them, really. Because if they don’t have that, they have nothing and they’re desperately holding on. The stakes are high for these ladies.

BIBB It’s so cool to think about how far we’ve come as women and that we have so many options now. But 1969 isn’t that long ago. It’s not that far back that women’s rights weren’t an issue. So you think they’re all infighting, but at the end, you start to see this group of women realize that they need a sense of community. They need this sisterhood to go forward. The only way that they’re going to get through this time is together. And that’s something I hope people take away as women — that we’re stronger together versus fighting with each other.

Palm Royale releases new episodes Wednesdays at midnight PT on Apple TV+

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