Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Michael O’Neill. If you have seen the Savannah-filmed television show, “Council of Dads” on NBC, he is the actor that brings to life character of Larry.
Prior to speaking with O’Neill, I decided to peruse through his Instagram feed to see if I could get a grasp on his time spent here while filming. The last year of his “gram” is basically a love letter to our dear city (@thismichaeloneill). I knew immediately that we were going to get along.View this post on Instagram
Sunrise over the Savannah River. Getting ready for ‘Council of Dads’. @codwriters @nbccouncilofdads
We began our conversation with his first night in Savannah. He and fellow castmate Sarah Wayne Callies decided to hit the town walking. As the crew were initially staying at the Alida, they decided to head south, then east to Colonial Park Cemetery, then south to beautiful Forsyth Park. It was there, that he knew he found his happy place.
That evening, they walked around five miles and they knew that Savannah was the ideal backdrop for the “Council of Dads.”
During filming, the cast basically lived in Savannah from the beginning of October until the beginning of March. After the initial stay at the Alida, he moved into a rental unit near Forsyth Park. Here, he took full advantage of our city. Every morning, he would start the day with a walk in search of coffee. Some mornings he would head south to the Sentient Bean. Once there, he would also make sure to stop into the Brighter Day Natural Foods Market. Other mornings he would work his way north to either the Savannah Coffee Roasters or The Collins Quarter. At the CQ, he enjoyed talking to the owners, Anthony and Beck, about coffees and learning more about the Toby’s Estate coffee that they serve from Brooklyn, NY. Some afternoons, he would switch gears and enjoy a relaxing hot tea while sitting in the E. Shaver’s Bookseller on Madison Square.
When asked about specific restaurants, out came a spew of anything and everything that Savannah had to offer. His first meal was at The Fat Radish as it was close to the hotel. He loved the eclectic food and even more than that he adored the people that ran it.
Other places included Chive, Alligator Soul, Vic’s on the River, Soho South, PJ’s Corner, 45 Bistro and of course, Vinnie Van Go-Go’s. One night they had a cast dinner at Husk and when the executives came in to town, The Grey was a must. As Flock to the Wok is fairly new, I asked if he had been there. His response was immediately “those Steamed Shrimp Dumplings!” Other memorable items included the Whole Roasted Fish with Brussles Sprouts from the Atlantic and the Coconut Pie at The Crab Shack.
On his first trip to Leopold’s Ice Cream, he decided on a basic flavor. Although he liked it, he was told by others that he had not experienced “True Leopold’s.”
Eventually he went back and discovered the Honey and Almond Cream. It is made with Savannah Bee honey and fresh roasted almonds, a flavor that was inspired by the SCAD Bees. Soon after when his daughters decided to visit, he knew exactly where to take them. He recalled that on set one day, NBC treated the crew by having the Leopold’s Ice Cream Truck come by. Work is always easier with Leopold’s.
While in Savannah, the place he found himself returning to time and time again was Forsyth Park. There he found the peace he needed to both rehearse lines and relax. On his morning walks through the park, he would always look for the hawks that would perch in the tall trees one of the parks corners. Here, he would come to both start and end his days.
In looking back on his time here, he found Savannah (as many of us have) to be magical. But he added to it that “in Savannah, the magic is reoccurring.”
I could not agree with him more.
"Council of Dads“ returns to continue its first season on Thrusday, April 30 at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.