Jeff Daniels, ‘American Rust: Broken Justice’ Stars And Crew Discuss Fine Line Between Good And Evil In Return Of Crime Drama (2024)

Jeff Daniels and Maura Tierney are back with their compelling crime drama American Rust: Broken Justice to tie up loose ends from last season’s cliffhanger. But like the title of music great Neil Young’s legendary live album Rust Never Sleeps, a whole new set of harrowing circ*mstances for Del Harris (Daniels) and Grace Poe (Tierney) are waiting in the wings.

Season 2 of American Rust has been a long time coming since the series — which aired in 2021 — was canceled by Showtime after Season 1. Luckily for Daniels, Tierney and showrunners Dan Futterman and Adam Rapp, Amazon Prime Video and its streaming channel Freevee took a shining to American Rust so fans wouldn’t be left twisting in the wind.

“It was really nice to have a chance to come back to wrap up those questions that were left hanging at the end of Season 1,” Tierney told me in a series of Zoom interviews with the cast and crew. “Not that Season 2 ends with a complete resolution, necessarily. There are more troubles that Del has. But it was, yes, nice to address some of the questions about some of the various relationships.”

For film and television veteran Daniels, the ability to continue the tale created by author Philipp Meyer in his 2009 best-seller American Rust fulfilled a 10-year quest to get the project made.

“I like the book a lot and I like Philipp Meyer, so Dan Futterman and I got together and said, ‘Let’s see if we can get it made,’” Daniels said. “Then we brought in Adam Rapp and we got good people on the show. That’s not always the case. You look around at the cast, which as an executive producer that’s kind of where I focus and how you can get good actors, and they did. That makes the show better.”

The Amazon Prime Video deal to make American Rust: Broken Justice — which debuts on the streamer March 28 — was especially satisfying for Futterman, who knew there was such much more of a rich story that needed to be told.

"We really, really wanted Season 2 and we were thrilled to land at Amazon to be able to do it,” Futterman noted. “There was a lot left over to answer from Season 1, but also, there was this [desire] to further explore these characters and the way they try to get what they can out of life that gets them into deeper trouble. It was an exciting story to tell and speeding up the narrative was exciting to do as well.”

Season 2 Ramps Up The Moral Dilemmas The Characters Faced In Season 1

In American Rust: Broken Justice, a large part of the action moves from the fictional town of Buell, Pennsylvania, in Season 1 to Pittsburgh. It’s in the Steel City where former Buell Police Chief Del Harris returns as a police detective with the Pittsburgh Police Department and is ultimately forced to confront his past as part of The Brotherhood — a secret organization that exacts its own brand of justice outside of the rules of law.

Having previously carried out deadly orders for The Brotherhood — coupled with some murderous deeds in Season 1 to get his girlfriend Grace Poe’s adult son, Billy (Alex Neustaedter) out of prison for a murder he is implicated in — American Rust: Broken Justice continues to examine the fine line between good and evil.

Walking the line, of course, is Del, whose actions come under the suspicion of his successor, Chief Steve Park (Rob Yang). As such, an interesting dynamic is created for the audience where morally flawed characters like Del and Grace still are viewed as protagonists, while by-the-book cops like Park and Del’s new partner, Detective Angela Burgos (Luna Lauren Velez) are spurned by almost everybody they answer to despite their good intentions.

Maura Tierney said the reason audiences will continue to side with Del and Grace in American Rust: Broken Justice comes down to one simple fact. Despite their enormous flaws, the characters’ hearts are in the right place.

“We’re still rooting for these people because they’re good people, they’re not bad people. They have tough choices in tough circ*mstances,” Tierney noted. “Jeff said it’s about ‘good people making bad decisions,’ and the audience can still root for them because they’re somewhat more compromised. Let’s call it that.”

Daniels credits the series’ writers — including showrunners Dan Futterman and Adam Rapp — for making the idea of Del and Grace’s story still believable in Season 2.

“You’re pulling for them, which is a bit of magic not only with me and Maura, but with the writing, and it’s good to know that in Season 2 you’re still pulling for these people despite all the things that they’ve had to do,” Daniels said with a laugh.

Rapp said finding a balance on the fine line of good and evil with the series’ principal characters is something that was never lost on him and his fellow writers.

“A theme that we tried to weave all the way out and in of Season 2 was, ‘Who’s going to win and who’s going to lose and does it even matter?’ because we’re all invested in the good and the evil and the dark and the light,” Rapp said. “As writers, we’re taught early on to never land on one side too much. Morality is much more interesting if you raise questions and see someone struggling in the dark a little bit and we’ve tried to go through that as much as possible with these characters.”

Velez says ‘Broken Justice’ Is As Unpredictable As Life Is

Luna Lauren Velez — whose Captain Maria LaGuerta was hot on the trail of Miami Metro’s serial killing forensics tech Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) on the hit series Dexter — loves how she’s presented with a similar character to play on American Rust: Broken Justice. After all, she said, finding the balance between who’s right and who’s wrong is an interesting dilemma for audiences to digest.

“I feel that in some ways, ‘That’s life,’ right? We like to think of ourselves in one way and we’re all trying to do the right thing,” Velez observed. “I do think that even in this show that everyone’s trying to do the right thing. Even Del Harris. But it’s just so complicated with all the twists and turns as everybody experiences where the show takes you. It’s so unpredictable — as is life — and I think that’s one of the most brilliant things about it.”

While Officer Steve Park harbored his suspicions about Del in Season 1, Yang said he’s not afraid of keeping his theories quiet in Season 2, especially since his character has assumed his former boss’ position as chief of police in Buell. But that’s not to say he can’t take his job too far.

“I think he’s really determined in the second season and he thinks he’s right and he wants to prove it,” Yang said, adding with a sly laugh, “As far as the good and bad [you see on the surface], you don’t know what we’re writing in our journals at nighttime.”

Velez And Yang Loved Teaming Up With Daniels and Tierney

Luna Lauren Velez said playing Detective Angela Burgos opposite Jeff Daniels’ Del Harris in American Rust: Broken Justice far exceeded her expectations both as an actor and, surprisingly, as a budding musician.

“It was wonderful that I got to work with a truly brilliant actor and have great dialogue with him,” Velez enthused. “I love the storyline with the relationship with these characters. It’s been wonderful. And he also helped me learn how to play the guitar. I mean what else could you want from somebody?”

Rob Yang, on the other hand, found the scenes he filmed with Maura Tierney as a great source of entertainment. On more than one occasion Chief Steve Park in Season 2 Park finds himself the target of Grace Poe’s fiery tirades loaded with F-bombs.

“I find it so funny,” said Yang, who became used to the prolific use of the F-word facing the Logan Roy’s family as Vaulter CEO Lawrence Yee in Succession. “That was one of my favorite things shooting this last season — how much Grace hates me. Maura’s so sweet and we got along so well on set, but I really [enjoyed those scenes].

‘American Rust: Broken Justice’ Also Brings Some Relevant Side Plots Into The Fold

Dan Futterman and Adam Rapp added another element of morally questionable actions in American Rust: Broken Justice by implementing a side narrative in the story where a large natural gas company descends upon Buell. While it presents the town’s downtrodden residents an opportunity to earn big money by allowing hydraulic fracturing on their land, the potential of poisoning the area’s water supply is bubbling under the surface.

“I always learned with playwriting that if you have two colliding ideas that find their way to weave together you might find a conflicted story,” Rapp said. “I thought that bringing the fracking stuff in with energy company along with the crime and finding a way to weave them together was really exciting because I’ve never done that before. I have to credit Danny for bringing that in.”

All told, Futterman is thrilled more than anything about Season 2 because of Jeff Daniels’ passion to not only get the series made with American Rust but to continue on with American Rust: Broken Justice.

“He’s been with this project and trying to get it made for a decade and he wasn’t going to let it go,” Futterman said. “So, as long as he was onboard and excited and on those Zooms with Amazon saying how much he wanted to do it, we are riding this [wave] as far as we can and hopefully further than this season. We’ll see.”

American Rust: Broken Justice debuts March 28 on Amazon Prime Video.

Jeff Daniels, ‘American Rust: Broken Justice’ Stars And Crew Discuss Fine Line Between Good And Evil In Return Of Crime Drama (2024)


What is the brotherhood in American Rust? ›

It's in the Steel City where former Buell Police Chief Del Harris returns as a police detective with the Pittsburgh Police Department and is ultimately forced to confront his past as part of The Brotherhood — a secret organization that exacts its own brand of justice outside of the rules of law.

Is American Rust season 2 any good? ›

If there's any downside to this new season it's that the first half feels stronger than the second half. Returning characters' personality changes in the first half of the new season are necessary tweaks that help lift the show's overall mood, which makes “American Rust” more entertaining and less depressing.

How does American Rust season 2 end? ›

American Rust season 2 ends with shocking twists and cliffhangers, leaving the fates of beloved characters up in the air. Lee is killed by Russell, while Grace kills Steve. In the end, a mysterious gunshot leaves a question of whether Grace, Del, and others will return for season 3, provided the show is renewed.

What town is American Rust set in? ›

In its first season “American Rust” was set almost entirely in fictional Buell, Fayette County, but for the second season, the show splits its time between Buell and Pittsburgh, where former Buell police Chief Del Harris (Jeff Daniels) has rejoined the Pittsburgh Police Department.

Is The Brotherhood evil Fallout? ›

Some of their members are evil, sure. As an organization I think they qualify as Lawful Neutral. They want to rule the world just like most of the major factions do, but they are at least willing to let most humans alone and not mutate them or turn then into some “perfect being”.

What happens if you side with the Brotherhood of Steel? ›

If you decide to pledge your final loyalty to the Brotherhood of Steel Faction in Fallout 4, then you will no longer be able to complete quests or contact allies of other factions. Both the Railroad and The Institute will be permanent enemies.

Will there be a rust two? ›

See details on American Rust: Broken Justice below. The second season premieres with all 10 episodes March 28 on Prime Video. PREVIOUS, Feb. 15: Following its pickup by Amazon Freevee in 2022 after its cancellation on Showtime, American Rust is now set at Prime Video where it will premiere its second season.

Who is the killer on American Rust season 2? ›

In season two, Grace becomes a murderer to protect Del. What were the conversations like regarding this choice for her character?

Does Billy go to jail in American Rust? ›

Alex Neustaedter: I think for Billy, the most important thing to know from Season 1 is that he takes the blame and he goes into prison for his friend -- to let his friend follow his dream. It's a full act of sacrifice. Billy had no other direction; he didn't know where his life was going.

What year is American Rust supposed to be? ›

It is set in the 2000s, in the fictional town of Buell in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, which is in a rural region referred to as "the Valley" of dilapidated steel towns.

Does American Rust end on a cliffhanger? ›

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for American Rust: Broken Justice, Season 2, Episode 10, “Confessions.”] American Rust: Broken Justice ended with a bang as the follow-up to 2021's American Rust delivered an intense cliffhanger sure to leave viewers itching for a third season.

Why was American Rust cancelled? ›

Because American Rust's reviews were so bad, Showtime opted to cancel the series almost as soon as the first season concluded,...

Is American Rust based on a true story? ›

In "American Rust," Philipp Meyer's debut novel, the steel mill in the fictional town of Buell, Pennsylvania closed in 1987 and was partially dismantled ten years later.

Is Buell a real town? ›

About American Rust

Although the series is filmed in Pittsburgh, the actual setting of the series is a fictional town called Buell (also set in Pennsylvania). Therefore, most of the scenes are filmed on location in Pittsburgh, which is known for its role in the steel manufacturing industry.

What is the point of the Brotherhood of Steel? ›

The Brotherhood of Steel is a fictional organization from the post-apocalyptic Fallout video game franchise. The Brotherhood collects and preserves technology, but they are not known for sharing their knowledge, even if doing so would improve the quality of life among the people of the wasteland.

What does the Brotherhood give you? ›

The Brotherhood gives you: The Lost Patrol gives you a Steadfast BOS Combat Armor Chest Piece, which is pretty great earlier in the game, and not too bad later on. It gives you extra damage resistance as your health gets lower. You can also get the Survivor's Special unique laser pistol.

Is the Brotherhood of Steel the US military? ›

The Brotherhood of Steel (commonly abbreviated to BoS) is a post-War technology-focused paramilitary order with chapters operating across the territory of the former United States. It was founded by rogue U.S. Army officer Captain Roger Maxson shortly after the Great War.

What is Brotherhood based on? ›

The series was inspired by real-life Irish American brothers from the Irish neighborhood of South Boston: James 'Whitey' Bulger, Jr., a gangster who has been on the F.B.I.'s Most Wanted List for 10 years as a fugitive from justice, and William Bulger.

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