How Merritt Wever Filmed An Intimate Duck Scene for AppleTV+’s ‘Roar’

In the actress’ episode titled “The Woman Who Was Fed By A Duck,” a single woman enters into a relationship with an actual mallard.

Merritt Wever had a very peculiar role to play in Roar, AppleTV+’s anthology series of darkly comic feminist fables. Spanning genres from magical realism to psychological horror, the eight stand-alone stories feature ordinary women in some pretty extraordinary circumstances.

In Wever’s “The Woman Who Was Fed By A Duck,” a single woman enters into a relationship with an actual mallard. The 34-minute episode showcases the entire relationship timeline from the quirky courting to the intimate lovemaking and everything in between. 

“For most of the scenes, we had the live duck that I was working with, looking at, talking to, and then we had the actor, Justin Kirk, who voices the duck, there every day, just off camera, playing each and every scene with me. I had these two points of focus and that worked really well for us,” Wever told Los Angeles magazine. 

“I haven’t seen the [intimate] scene,” she added. “I don’t feel the need to see it, and I don’t even remember that much about it because I think it’s just another part of the day and the job to get through. I don’t think it was even the hardest scene we had that day.” 

Due to the unusual and graphic nature of the tale, it was one of the narratives in Cecelia Ahern’s singular and imaginative story collection of the same name that the creative team behind “Roar” had initially not considered adapting at all. According to Wever, it wasn’t until director Halley Feiffer brought it to the table with a plea to tell the story that it became a topic of conversation. 

“[Feiffer] read it and didn’t like the way the duck was talking to her. She didn’t like it all and it pissed her off so she developed this narrative around it,” Wever said, foreshadowing the mallet’s abusive behavior. 

Feiffer had a solid point. Why do an entire series about empowered women and skip over the story that can help women recognize and overcome every day abusive relationships? Though the duck stands as a metaphor for the larger message, the story did not come off as a gag, but rather a serious and emotional look at the ease in which abusive relationships in all shapes and forms can occur. 

Beyond the context of the story, Wever was also dealing with all the emotions surrounding her first time returning to set since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think one of the biggest aspects of this experience for me was that it was one of my first jobs back after COVID,” Wever said. “As much as I loved working with everyone and getting to do something different with this story, it’s always going to occupy that place in my head. The first COVID job back. Everybody gathering in a group of people with a common purpose again when I hadn’t had that in my life in a long time.” 

Roar premieres Friday, April 15 exclusively on AppleTV+. 

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