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By Suzanne

Andre Braugher

Interview with Andre Braugher of "Men of a Certain Age" on TNT 11/2/10

I love Andre Braugher. He was fantastic on "Homicide: Life on the Street" (one of the best shows ever). I was a bit tongue-tied when speaking with him here. It's not often that you get to speak to such a renowned actor (he was also nominated this year for an Emmy for this show). Also, this is a great show, which I've loved from the very first episode.  It was very clear from the interview below that Braugher is very passionate about acting and really into this character. He has been in tons of TV shows and movies, but he really knows this character well and has definite opinions about him!

I do have to say that I hope they do re-visit the diabetes storyline with Owen. Type II diabetes is usually a life-long struggle. Those of us who get it usually have a lifetime of bad habits to overcome, and it's not so easy as just taking medication and promising your kids that you'll keep it up. It is more like the character Joe's gambling addiction.  Temptation is everywhere. Unlike other addictions, you can't just give up food. Even if you stay away from junk food and candy, you still have to watch every carb. And also I have to say that first time Type II patients don't usually just take insulin. They usually take oral medication and then control it with diet and exercise. So this is TV, I know, not reality. But otherwise this show is very realistic, a lot like real life, which is what makes it so great.  Clearly Braugher does not agree with me here, so we shall see what happens :)

TURNER ENTERTAINMENT
Moderator: Kristina Stafford
November 2, 2010 11:50 am CT

Operator: Good day and welcome to the Turner Entertainmentís Men of a Certain Age conference call with Andre Braugher. Todayís conference is recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Ms. Kristina Stafford. Please go ahead.

Kristina Stafford: Good afternoon. Thank you so much for joining the Andre Braugher, Men of a Certain Age conference call. Men of a Certain Age returns for its second season on Monday, December 6 at 10:00, 9:00 Central on TNT.

The conference call is now open for questions. Please press star 1 to ask a question. Thank you.

Operator: And in the interest of time, we would like you to limit your questions to one per participant and then reenter the queue if you have additional questions. That is star 1 to ask a question today.

And our first question comes from Nancy McAlister with Print Marketing Concepts.

Nancy McAlister: Hi Andre; how are you?

Andre Braugher: Iím doing great; how are you?

Nancy McAlister: Good, thank you. I guess I like just like to start by asking what appeals to you about playing Owen?

Andre Braugher: About playing Owen? Well when I read the script back in - the pilot script back in I guess the spring of 2008, you know, I was just impressed about - I was impressed by the struggle of one man to, you know, I guess to find validation, you know, in his work and among his family.

And what was appealing to me was that this character was not an authority figure and that he was immersed in this rich stew of relationships, you know, with being a husband and a father and a son and a pal and a coworker and a boss. And all of these different relationships seemed to be fascinating because not often do we get a chance to see men in this demographic, you know, in their natural element, you know.

Quite often -- and Iíve played many of these roles -- theyíre authority figures or theyíre, you know, functionaries or something to that effect. And I felt as though Owen was a special kind of guy, you know, and more appealing because he wasnít exactly sharp or competent. You know, the struggle appealed to me.

Nancy McAlister: Okay thank you.

Andre Braugher: Sure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine.

Jamie Steinberg: Hi, itís a pleasure to get to speak with you again.

Andre Braugher: Sure, how are you?

Jamie Steinberg: Good. My mother sends her regards. She is still obsessed with Homicide and she wants to know when they will be redoing it with you.

Andre Braugher: I donít think it will ever happen but please give her my regards.

Jamie Steinberg: I wanted to ask you, what keeps challenging you about playing Owen?

Andre Braugher: What keeps - Iím sorry I missed it. What keeps?

Jamie Steinberg: What keeps challenging you about the role?

Andre Braugher: Well like life, you know, nothing ever goes right and thatís a beautiful thing, you know, because, you know, as I mentioned before, the struggle is fascinating. I mean, you know, quite often Iíve played very assured characters, very competent characters, and this was a departure from that and I think a welcome one, you know, just in terms of broadening, you know, my ability to express myself in this dimension, you know.

These relationships are really the most appealing part about it, you know, for - to play a character who has been married for 20 years and still is crazy about his wife, you know, and with three kids, you know, and struggling to make a living selling cars. Itís a challenge, you know. And the evolution, the maturation of the Owen character is just appealing to me.

Quite often the characters Iíve played are ready-made (atoms) in their own way. They donít have a lot of context and they donít have a lot of history. But here is a character who is all context and all history and itís a welcome departure.

Operator: And as a reminder, itís star 1 to ask a question today; star 1. Weíll pause for a moment to give everyone an opportunity to signal.

Our next question comes from Jay Jacobs with popentertainment.com.

Jay Jacobs: Hi, nice to talk to you, Andre.

Andre Braugher: Good morning, Jay.

Jay Jacobs: Homicide was one of my favorite shows too. Now all three of you guys have sort of played very iconic TV roles previously and they were all very different as well. How quickly did you - once you got together with the guys did you feel that you were really meshing and were able to get into these characters without sort of the baggage of your former parts?

Andre Braugher: You know, I donít feel as though I carried over any baggage from my former parts and I will say that beginning with the first read through as well as the first rehearsal, I mean, we were all really concentrated and focused on really telling the story to the best of our ability.

And, you know, the beauty of this story resides in the fact that all of these guys are really fumbling, you know, fumbling their way through their lives, you know, and that they are not, you know, blessed with, you know, competence in every arena, you know. Some are married, some are not, some are successful, some are not.

And we meshed pretty quickly because I think we all realize the tone of this show is, you know, the ridiculousness of the struggle but also, you know, its poignancy. I mean, weíre all in our own way in the same place, you know. Weíre struggling for that happiness and that satisfaction in life. We want to do a good job, we want to honor these relationships and, you know, in its own way itís all of us looking for our own happiness but of course itís elusive, itís an elusive goal.

Jay Jacobs: Sure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with the TV MegaSite.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi Owen, thank you for taking our calls today.

Andre Braugher: Sure.

Suzanne Lanoue: I love Homicide too. I didnít watch it back when it was on, I donít know why, I saw it a couple of years ago.

Andre Braugher: Right, you might have been 8 years old when it was on.

Suzanne Lanoue: No no, Iím actually your age.

Andre Braugher: Oh okay.

Suzanne Lanoue: I saw it on the Sleuth Channel a couple of years ago. They started running it like 4:00 in the morning and I started taping it. Oh I love that show.

Andre Braugher: Oh glad to hear it.

Suzanne Lanoue: And I love this show actually. I started watching it because you and Scott Bakula were on it but itís such an amazing, well written show and has such great characters and probably because of my age I guess I can relate. Itís not just men of a certain age, itís people of a certain age.

I was going to ask you because Iím also Type 2 diabetic, I was going to ask you if you think Owen will be having more issues, more problems with that in the upcoming episodes.

Andre Braugher: I donít think so. I mean, we had a whole episode about the whole, you know, intense sort of concentration on Owen and Owenís, you know, the eating disorder, you know, the emotional side to it.

So, you know, and he made a vow to his kids, you know, about eating healthy and so, you know, the character has been eating healthy, you know, and so it looks as though there will be an improvement. I mean, literally an improvement, you know, in his health and his outlook. So I donít think it will become - I donít think his diabetes will become, you know, showcased as a part of his character.

Suzanne Lanoue: All right, thank you.

Andre Braugher: Sure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Nancy McAlister with Print Marketing Concepts.

Nancy McAlister: Hi again. I was just wondering what was your reaction to the Emmy nomination?

Andre Braugher: I was pleased without a doubt. But, you know, like everybody else, you know, when youíre handicapping, you know, Aaron Paul was going to win it. So, you know, I was prepared, you know, and sure enough Aaron Paul won it so there we have it. But I was pleased, you know.

Itís nice that people recognize the show. Itís nice to be recognized for telling the kind of stories that are pleasing to us and then amazingly are also pleasing to the audience. So, you know, awards aside, the nomination is really, you know, a testament to the fact that I think weíre on the right track.

Nancy McAlister: Right. And I guess this is another way of asking this too. Reaction to the show from fans, have you gotten a lot just in your being out in the world?

Andre Braugher: Yes, people recognize me. You know, itís a self selected audience of course, you know, people who hate the show donít come up to me at all. But people who like the show come up and they just say, you know, they express an appreciation for the fact that weíre telling a story about older people who are typically invisible on shows or functionaries, you know, like the Chief of Police, you know, or the doctor who delivered the bad news or something to that effect, that theyíre pleased that someone is telling a story that reveals people of a certain age in all their dimensions.

Operator: Our next question comes from Earl Dittman with Wireless Magazines and Digital Journal.

Earl Dittman: Hi Andre, good morning; how are you?

Andre Braugher: Iím doing great; how are you?

Earl Dittman: Doing great. I have to say Iíve loved the show from the moment it came on and you were just dynamic in it. And so you - the part is for you, perfect. Did you feel - and I guess my main question is do you share any of his, I mean, how much can you relate to him?

Andre Braugher: I relate to everything.

Earl Dittman: Really?

Andre Braugher: I mean, Iím a father and a son and a coworker, you know what I mean, and a pal. I mean, thereís nothing here thatís not true, you know what I mean, for me too, you know what I mean.

I donít have his - I donít have Owenís health problems but, you know, but just in terms of having, you know, a sharp strong-willed wife, Iíve got one of those, you know, and the rambunctious, three rambunctious boys, Iíve got those, you know what I mean. And Iíve got the whole stew, you know, of relationships, you know, in terms of father, coworker, you know, pal, you know, husband, father, you know. Iíve got it all.

Earl Dittman: You didnít have to do a heck of a lot of research then?

Andre Braugher: No not really, I mean, because this is right up my alley. But, you know, the hardest part of the job really is being honest about what these situations are, you know, and not shying away from the uncomfortableness of them, you know what I mean? They are uncomfortable and I think we do our best service when we acknowledge them and deal with these uncomfortable moments.

And so I think thatís one of the things that people like about the show is that we donít, you know, have a wise crack you know, thatís an act out and didnít shy away from the uncomfortableness of being who we are.

Earl Dittman: Well youíre absolutely fabulous in it and Iím looking forward to this next season. And weíll do our best to get people to watch it.

Andre Braugher: Oh well thank you.

Earl Dittman: Thank you so much, you have a great day.

Andre Braugher: Sure, my pleasure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine please.

Jamie Steinberg: Hello again. I was just wondering why you think people continue to tune in and watch Men of a Certain Age.

Andre Braugher: Only because I think weíre telling stories that they find appealing in this way. You know, truth telling is, you know, a very compelling and watchable experience, you know.

And I think when you find stories that tell the truth about your life you find them fascinating because it just - itís an affirmation in a certain way that instead of being a faceless drone or, you know, the stupid dad on television that youíre really dealing with people with dimension. And so consequently I think thatís one of the reasons people enjoy tuning in.

Jamie Steinberg: Wonderful, thank you again.

Andre Braugher: Sure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Jay Jacobs with popentertainment.com.

Jay Jacobs: I love the fact that the guys are lifelong friends. Theyíve been together for all these years even though they are sort of very different types. Did you guys sort of get together and discuss the charactersí back story, how they met and stayed together after all these years? And also do you have any friends from childhood that you still see regularly?

Andre Braugher: I do have friends from childhood that I see regularly and, you know, I donít think we had formal conversations about exactly what the back story is, you know. We all went to Syracuse, we all according to the opening credits, we all got in the car and drove to sunny California together, you know. And my character is from California because, you know, my father is, you know, a former Laker star and an auto dealer. So in that way I am returning home.

But I donít know exactly where Terryís character is from. Heís from the Midwest, you know what I mean, that much we know. And that, you know, his little brother is out here that essentially grew up without his father. These are certain little facts that we know about these characters. But weíve never really sat down and said, you know, this is what happened in 1984 and this is what happened in 1994. We didnít do that.

Jay Jacobs: Okay well thank you.

Andre Braugher: Sure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with the TV MegaSite.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, itís me again. I love the scene in the upcoming episode where your character is in the car with Marcus and does that thing with the cars. It was so cool and the way he won Marcus over. Marcus was like ďyou the man.Ē

Do you think there is going to be - that obviously didnít totally settle the problems that he has with Marcus. Is there anything you can tell us without spoiling too much about the - whatís going to happen this season with him and Marcus and how youíre going to deal with having him around?

Andre Braugher: Well, you know, I donít deal with Marcus in the same dimension because being, you know, the general manager of the dealership, you know, instead of being down on the floor with the salesmen.

Iím really sort of, you know, exploring the whole, you know, idea of running the place, you know what I mean, and promoting the place and, you know, finding out, you know, whatís going to be happening in the future, you know. So itís not so much interpersonal, you know, but thatís something that Marcus...

Suzanne Lanoue: Right but the inadequacy is there about how his father feels about Marcus and couldnít survive without him, had to hire him back or had to swallow his pride and all that.

Andre Braugher: Right, exactly. Well part of it yes, is swallowing my pride. But the other thing is, you know, in the ongoing, you know, story of Owenís maturation, you know, putting the business first is important also.

So yes, you have to swallow your pride if you want - if I want to play at this level, you know. And if I want to be, you know, a salesman and hold petty grudges, you know, I could step back on the floor. But, you know, I think my father is asking me to step up, you know, and itís hard.

But, you know, itís a different aspect of being, you know, a leader, a general manger, you know, which has its complications and of course, you know, this being a well written show, nothing goes right. But you know, it is an attempt on Owenís part to, you know, what Iím saying, to grow up here.

Suzanne Lanoue: So is it like an important step in his maturing?

Andre Braugher: It is, it is an important step.

Suzanne Lanoue: Thank you very much.

Andre Braugher: Sure, my pleasure.

Operator: And our next question comes from Jay Jacobs with popentertainment.com.

Andre Braugher: Hey dude.

Jay Jacobs: Hey. Itís sort of tough for an actor to get a role in a single multi season series and obviously you had Homicide and I was also a big fan of Hack. How gratifying is it that youíre now able to do it yet again?

Andre Braugher: Itís good, itís good, it helps put my kids through college, you know what Iím saying. But the other thing about it is itís sort of a role that Iíve been waiting for, you know.

So often in my career I have played, you know, brilliant, authoritative, hyper competent characters, you know. Benjamin Gideon is a brilliant oncologist and researcher, you know what Iím saying, and Frank Pembleton is a brilliant detective, you know, in a small town in Baltimore, you know what I mean.

You know, and but when I look up with this role, you know, I just found it really satisfying to not be hyper competent and not be brilliant and in a certain way explore the joy of Owenís ordinariness.

So Iím happy about getting this job and Iím looking for the next challenge after the series ends, you know, three, four, five years, I donít know what it will be. You know, itís really dependent on how the audiences feel about it. But, you know, there will be another challenge somewhere along the line and really looking forward to grabbing something new, you know.

I have learned a lot by watching both Ray and Scott in terms of, you know, how to bring out the human comedy, you know. Iíve learned a lot about the art of storytelling by watching these guys really craft and hone these shows sometimes on their feet, you know, while weíre doing them. You know, a lot about, you know, the honesty and the truthfulness and the bravery necessary to play comedy, you know.

So this has been a really satisfying experience. I donít know how long it will last, how long it will be a joy ride - but hereís Scott Bakula razzing me in the hallway. So heís being annoying. Heís being a pest right now.

So anyway, we - itís a lot that I have learned as an actor in terms of - from Scott by being on the show. And, you know, as long as it lasts Iím going to try to really glean all of the good stuff from it I possibly can.

Jay Jacobs: Okay great.

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