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Tramell Tillman talks role in new AppleTV+ thriller ‘Severance’ directed by Ben Stiller

Tramell Tillman
Tramell Tillman will appear on the new Apple TV+ series “Severance.”
Photo: Peter Hurley

A New York-based actor is headed to Apple TV+ in the new thriller “Severance.”

Tramell Tillman had always loved the art of acting, even when he thought he could never do it himself. However, as a child in Maryland, he was bitten by the acting bug during a Christmas play.

“I’ve always admired this art form, I’m watching the incredible artists on Broadway and off-Broadway, it’s incredible what we do as artists to be a part of the conversation where we tell different stories and evoke change,” said Tillman. “I was a shy kid. My journey to acting started in Maryland. When my mom wanted to me become more active, she encouraged me to go into acting. It was a Christmas play, I had one line and I was terrified to do it — but something clicked. The acting bug bit at that moment and ever since.”

Tillman later moved to New York and built up a career on stage and on screen, appearing in plays such as “Sweat” and “The Great Society” as well as TV series such as “Godfather of Harlem” and “Hunters.” This week, you can see Tillman in the premiere of “Severance” on Apple TV+.

Created by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife Mcardle, “Severance” follows Lumon Industries, a company that offers a “severance” program that allows its employees to undergo a transformation that allows them to completely sever their work and personal lives.

“The company starts a new program where those who are interested can have severed into work life and personal life separated. You are a work person when you go to the office, when you leave you are a personal person, if you will,” said Tillman. “You never know about each other. It’s an interesting concept. [My character], Milchick, manages the workers on the severed floor on the severed program.”

According to Tillman, “Severance” is a blend of different genres, including thriller, soap opera, sci-fi, drama, and romance. Everything about the show was meticulously designed to pull audiences in and become immersed in the show.

“It is a very specific show. Ben Stiller was instrumental in making sure this show was unlike any other. The writers and creators took great care in sculpting the show and making every element, from the set, costumes, hair design, everything had a specific role in the story,” said Tillman. “It’s so fragmented, it pulls audiences in to figure out what’s going on.”

“Severance” has a star-studded cast that includes Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, John Turturro and Christopher Walken, just to name a few. For Tillman, it was incredible to be able to work with these actors as well as Stiller.

“It was a little intimidating at first, but not because of what they did. You come to set and it’s the dream to work with such gifted artists, it’s daunting at first,” said Tillman. “But they were so generous and collaborating. Patricia was a blast, very funny and very light. Ben was available to coach and guide, having faith in the process. The first day on set with John Turturro, I was totally in my head because in the midst of the pandemic, I hadn’t been on screen in several months, I had jitters. John was so nice, he said ‘You got this, you’ll be fine.’ That’s what it was like working with them. It was a group effort and they all leaned in.”

For those who tune in, Tillman hopes that audiences are captivated by the story and start to see the parallels that can be applied to our everyday lives.

“I think the show creates a lot of questions about technology and its place in humanity. It speaks to ambition, climbing the corporate ladder, alliances and allegiance, who are you fighting for…..I think as a whole it really touches on the topic of humanity,” said Tillman. “The writing team makes the characters incredibly human and complex, audiences will find themselves in the midst of the show, debate where we are and where we are headed.”

“Severance” premieres on Apple TV+ on Feb. 18. Follow Tillman online on Instagram @tramell.tillman or on Twitter @TramellTillman.

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