Showtime puts final touches on ‘The Affair’
To repurpose a famous story’s title, it’s the end of “The Affair.” The fifth and final season of the Showtime drama series begins Sunday, Aug. 25, with notable cast alterations for its concluding stanza. As its viewers well know, Ruth Wilson left the regular cast last year, and so has Joshua Jackson – but the legacy of their formerly married characters Alison and Cole remains in the couple’s nowgrown daughter Joanie, played in adulthood (and in forward-flashing segments) by “The Piano” Oscar winner and “True Blood” alum Anna Paquin.
“I had seen the first season,” Paquin says, “and when the offer came, I sat down and watched everything else that had come out after that. It says a lot when you’re going to presume to sit down and watch four seasons of ‘The Affair’ ... but it’s an amazing show, neatly written and constructed, and it was a special thing to join it.”
Though Joanie was seen in the third and fourth seasons of “The Affair,” she was played then by much-younger Savannah Grella, so Paquin effectively is creating the character in probing exactly what happened to Alison. “The writing is so compelling, a lot of my work was done for me,” Paquin reflects, “as far as who that person is and the place in the story that she inhabits. And as much fun as it is to start out with something, it’s also fun to get to be part of a final act.”
It seems inevitable that the adult Joanie’s path will cross that of Noah (Dominic West), the novelist turned teacher whose extramarital relationship with Alison set “The Affair” in motion. She also may encounter Helen (Maura Tierney), Noah’s ex ... but owing to the secrets that series co-creator and executive producer Sarah Treem (who wrote the final-season opener) wants to keep for now, Paquin refrains from providing such details. She confirms, “I’m involved in a lot of that not-to-be-discussed material and how the entire series is wrapped up.”
As Sanaa Lathan and Russell Hornsby return to the cast, also joining “The Affair” for its wrap-up round are Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lyriq Bent (“Rookie Blue”) as Joanie’s sports-agent husband, and Claes Bang (“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”) as the intrigued-by-Helen star of a movie being made from one of Noah’s books.
Paquin recently appeared in husband (and fellow “True Blood” veteran) Stephen Moyer’s movie-directing debut, “The Parting Glass”; she’s pleased to build a resume of series work also including “Flack,” which Pop is giving a Season 2. She notes, though, that she’s “very happy with my work in general. Wherever it is, I’m glad to take whatever job makes sense for my life at the time.”
Anna Paquin joins “The Affair” as the fifth and final season of the Showtime series starts Sunday.