Director Lesli Linka Glatter on Helming Robert De Niro's First TV Series: 'It's So Incredible' (Exclusive)

Robert De Niro
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After directing and executive producing Love & Death, the limited true-crime series about Candy Montgomery, Lesli Linka Glatter is returning to the world of spies and political thrillers with Zero Day. The upcoming Netflix drama marks Robert De Niro's first-ever TV role, with the 79-year-old playing George Mullen, a former U.S. president tasked with investigating a global cyber attack.

"I've spent a lot of time in the spy world and with the intelligence community. And I never wanna repeat anything, you know? I always want to be challenged with new kinds of directions. And this very much is in the political thriller," Glatter tells ET about getting involved in the series after previously working shows like Homeland and Six. "But I'm fascinated by the back rooms of power. I wanna know where decisions are made and who is making them. In our very divided world, it's very much a post-truth world."

According to Netflix, "Zero Day asks the question on everyone’s mind -- how do we find truth in a world in crisis, one seemingly being torn apart by forces outside our control? And in an era rife with conspiracy theory and subterfuge, how much of those forces are products of our own doing, perhaps even of our own imagining?"

Intrigued by the premise from writers Eric Newman and Noah Oppenheim and creator Michael S. Schmidt, Glatter says she was excited to join the project as director of all six episodes, explaining that "it really has the political weight underneath it."

She adds, "I couldn't be more thrilled," revealing that she's since been involved in "the development of the whole rest of the series."

Not only that, but it allows her to work with De Niro, who she says "was already signed on to play the last ex-president who could reach across the aisle." Still, the director says "it's so incredible" to be working on his first series.

Love & Death

In addition to the two-time Oscar winner, the ensemble includes Lizzy Caplan as Mullen's daughter, Alexandra, who is also a congresswoman; Joan Allen as Sheila Mullen, the former first lady and nominee to the federal bench; Connie Britton as Valerie Whitesell, a savvy political operative and Mullen's former chief of staff; as well as Edi Gathegi as Carl, a bureaucrat and Mullen loyalist.

"Our cast is now so extraordinary. I can't even, I'm like pinching myself," the director says, adding that she can't wait to also reunite with Jesse Plemons after the two worked together on Love & Death. "I mean, talk about such a performer. You can cast him in anything." 

Appearing as Roger Carlson, who is described as the president's former body man seeking a return to the national stage alongside Mullen, Glatter teases that Plemons is "playing a completely different character" than the one seen in the true-crime series. 

Speaking of the true-crime genre, Glatter says it's unlikely she'll to return to that world of storytelling after leading Love & Death, which is now streaming on Max, and helming two episodes of Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders. "I don't really see myself as a true-crime kind of gal. I am much more interested in why things happen and how things happen. I'm interested in characters and doing deep dives into characters." she shares. 

But despite leaving that world behind, she does see herself working with David E. Kelley after Love & Death. "He was the writing showrunner and I was the directing showrunner. We were partners, and you're supposed to have that kind of partnership with your writing partner," she says, adding, "We were making this together every step of the way, and that was glorious." 

Glatter says, "Definitely, David and I will team up again. I can say that I feel fairly certain that will happen." 


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