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By Suzanne

Interview with Evan Handler of "Necessary Roughness" on USA Network 6/18/12

This was a very fun call. Handler is very funny and entertaining. He jokes around a lot. He did a great job on the show. I hope he comes back sometime!

Moderator: Harriet Hubball
June 18, 2012
3:59 pm CT

Woman: Hi, everyone. Thank you for joining todayís call with Evan Handler. Evan plays New York Hawks Owner, Marshall Pittman, in USAís Series, Necessary Roughness.

As a reminder please ask one question at a time and weíll make sure we come back to you for any additional questions if time permits.

At this time, Iíd like welcome Evan on the line. Thank you for joining us today.

Evan Handler: Hey, my pleasure. Hello, everyone.

Woman: Operator, please open the floor for questioning.

Operator: At this time if you would like to ask a question, please press star then the number 1 on your telephone keypad. Weíll pause for just a moment to compile the Q&A roster.

And your first question comes from Jamie Ruby with

Jamie Ruby: Hi. Thanks for talking to us today.

Evan Handler: Oh, my pleasure, Jamie. The rules seem so strict Iím afraid if somebody breaks them like trap doors are going to open underneath you and you fall to the floor and disappear.

Jamie Ruby: Yeah, maybe. Weíll be okay I think. So, can you talk about how you started on Necessary Roughness, how that all came about?

Evan Handler: Thatís a good question. I donít know how it all came about. My agents presented me with the offer, and along the way I heard from the Executive Producers that there was a great deal of discussion that I guess the powers that be and the corporate backer sort of USA Network were extremely particular about who would play this particular role. And for reasons that were discussed outside my presence, there was excitement about my name in particular.

Jamie Ruby: Okay, great.

Operator: Okay, thank you. Your next question comes (unintelligible) Alessandra with Accidental Sexiness.

Alessandra Bacchetta: Hi. Thank you for talking to us.

Evan Handler: My pleasure.

Alessandra Bacchetta: So regarding what you just said, in Season 1 there was a lot of talk about Marshall Pittman and his somewhat sinister presence was a very prominent trait of the show, despite he never making an actual appearance. So, how was it for you as an actor to get in the shoes of the character that had such a big build up in the first season, and what were the defining factors in how you decided to play the character in the end? What I mean is did you just use your own grasp of what the character was, based on the Season 2 script, or did you watch the first season to have an idea of what was expected of it?

Evan Handler: Yeah. Thatís daunting, you know when a character is built up with so much in advance. And it also plays right into some of the traps and risks of working on the television show in particular, because not only did I come in and this character has been built up and built up and built up, but as on any television show youíre shooting one episode and subsequent episodes have not necessarily yet been written.

So, whatever the writers have...

Alessandra Bacchetta: Yeah.

Evan Handler: ...done and said about you in a particular episode might not even really match with what they then decide to do one or two episodes later. So, as with anything, you know I take my queues from the written words. So, I watched Season 1, I learned what they had set up about this guy, we had some talks about what they thought they were going to do with the character, but even one or two episodes in that took some dramatic turns.

So, the best you can do is work with each script and make your choices, and if theyíre contradicted later then, well, you hope the audience interprets that as a complexity.

Alessandra Bacchetta: Perfect. Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Reg Seeton with

Reg Seeton: Hi, Evan. Thanks for taking the call.

Evan Handler: Hey, my pleasure.

Reg Seeton: With everything thatís going on with Marshall Pittman and the team, can you talk about how he changes from when he was first introduced?

Evan Handler: Well, as I said just a minute ago, heís certainly spoken about a lot in the first season, but I suppose with the kind of just vague sinisterness. And then, when he appears I think the safety coating for me and everyone is that heís supposed to be very mercurial and unpredictable so it leaves a certain freedom, even if you set up something that if thereís inconsistency later on. And I guess I think, you know because two of the episodes have yet to air, I think what comes into play is that behind the bravado is whatís revealed as possibly a surprising sensitivity and vulnerability.

I think thatís the best answer I can give to that.

Reg Seeton: Thank you.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Diane Morasco with Morasco Media.

Diane Morasco: Hi, Evan. How are you today?

Evan Handler: Iím doing well. Thank you for asking.

Diane Morasco: I want to know what elements of Marshallís have you found that youíre taking on as your own?

Evan Handler: Well, I donít know. Thatís presumes a lot that question. I didnít - I donít know that Iíve taken on any aspect of Marshall. I didnít live with him all that long. It was interesting going to Atlanta and doing it. You know, some of the references that were made to him originally, you know ranged from Howard Hughes to the - is it Richard Branson to Ted Turner. We were in Atlanta and I passed the CNN Headquarters often getting to and from the set, so I do think Ted Turner became kind of an iconic reference in my mind; a mercurial, whimsical commander of empire.

Diane Morasco: Thank you so much. It - thatís great. Now, I have to ask though, what do you think of yours have you given to Marshall to balance that out?

Evan Handler: What do I think of myself? You know, really my main challenge in going down to Atlanta and doing this was my great discomfort in performing with my clothes on and with no sexual activity to rely on. So, I really - you know whenever I was photographed from the belt up, letís say, I actually would play the scenes without pants on just so I could maintain my own level of comfort after years on Sex in the City and Californication.

Diane Morasco: Thank you so much. I wish you the best.

Evan Handler: Thank you.

Diane Morasco: Youíre welcome.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Matt Rodriguez with

Matt Rodriguez: Hey, Pittman is clearly the villain of this season so far, and so it seems frankly everybody hates him already. Is there - I was wondering, is there anything good about him, and do you think weíre going to see a change in him as this season goes on?

Evan Handler: Well, those are strong words. I donít know what everybody thinks of him. I think - I like to think that itís clear that thereís some possible method behind the madness, and I do think thereís a change. As I said, I think there is a vulnerability thatís revealed along the way. And certainly for Necessary Roughness to continue as its fan know and love it, I donít think Marshall Pittman can absolutely destroy the team. I donít want to give too much away, but I think - what do I say? He - I think there is a modulation to his behavior at some point, or at least some better understanding of his frantic contradictions will come into play.

Matt Rodriguez: Awesome. Thank you very much.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Suzanne Lanoue with TV MegaSite.

Suzanne Lanoue: Hi. Itís nice to talk to you.

Evan Handler: Hey, thank you. And itís so intimate between the two of us.

Suzanne Lanoue: Well, you know weíve got to keep it real. You know, I - well, that leads into my question because I was going to tell you that, you know I never got to see you naked because I donít have Showtime or HBO, but I remember you from "Itís Like, you Know". You were great on that. So...

Suzanne Lanoue: Thank you very much.

Suzanne Lanoue: ...I was going to ask you...

Evan Handler: Youíve got to get up-to-date with your iTunes and...

Suzanne Lanoue: I know. I know...

Evan Handler: ...Netflix though.

Suzanne Lanoue: ...well, my husbandís cheap. He doesnít like it.

Evan Handler: Itís all out there for you.

Suzanne Lanoue: I know. Iím terrible. Well, I do have some friends who downloaded True Blood for me. Donít tell anybody. But - so, I was going to ask you, what do you think is the thing that you like best about playing this role on this show?

Evan Handler: Well, you know itís a gamble whenever you travel someplace to drop into a society that youíre not familiar with. Really, the best thing was that, as on Californication, the actual culture of Necessary Roughness is an incredibly familial and friendly one. You can drop into a TV show and find that everybody is angry at each other and bitter and hates the way that the show is run and doesnít like the way theyíre being treated, and this was the opposite of that.

This was a group of very happy people and a group of Executive Producers and a network that seemed to be taking great care of each other. So, I suppose that sounds all namby-pamby, but it was a great relief to me and it was just a nice four weeks in Atlanta.

Suzanne Lanoue: Oh, well, thatís very nice. Thank you very much.

Evan Handler: Yeah, sure.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question is from Jamie Ruby with

Jamie Ruby: Hi. So, is there anything you learned about yourself after doing Necessary Roughness?

Evan Handler: Huh, thatís interesting. I think I went into it a little bit daunted about playing this very powerful and famous and media savvy mogul-type figure. Maybe that comes from, you know weíre deep into the sixth season now of Californication where I play Charlie Runkle, a character that when I described him to my five-year old daughter she said, ďOh, heís a lot like Charlie Brown,Ē because I said, ďWell, always makes mistakes and gets in trouble.Ē

Jamie Ruby: (Thatís about the same kind of mistakes).

Evan Handler: So, I think you can come to wonder whether the world is willing to perceive you as someone slick and in control and powerful. Iíve been pleased with the glimpses that Iíve seen so far that Iím not horrified by portrayal yet.

Jamie Ruby: Okay, great. Thanks.

Operator: Thank you. Your next question comes from Alessandra Bacchetta with Accidental Sexiness.

Alessandra Bacchetta: Hello. I have a follow-up question. Since you mentioned the fact that we will see vulnerability to Marshall, I know that there is quite an emotional big scene coming up for him. Without giving too much away, could you tell us how we get to that moment and whether and how Nico and Marshall come to terms with the - of this tension there is between them thatís been caused by Gabrielle?

Evan Handler: Yeah, actually the - I think the emotional climax of the Marshall story comes in his confrontation with Gabrielle. That relationship...

Alessandra Bacchetta: Yeah, exactly. I didnít want to say it, (unintelligible).

Evan Handler: Oh, thatís all right. Thatís not giving too much away, I donít think. Obviously, Marshall and Nico also have their issues to resolve, but I think the most volatile emotional one comes during the divorce proceedings with Gabrielle. And Nico and Marshall part on, I would say, peaceful terms and - although I donít think, you know everything is tied up neatly. Marshall goes away. I donít know if they have any plans to resurrect him at any point, but itís not like he takes a bullet and is, you know buried or anything like that.

Alessandra Bacchetta: Okay. Speaking about that, I know that thereís another big moment coming up in the second part of the season that will involve Marshall, and will cause a chain reaction that will hit everyone possibly, TK in particular. How - could you say something about that too without giving too much away?

Evan Handler: I feel like you might know more than I do. Iím not latching on to what youíre referring to.

Alessandra Bacchetta: I suspected that, because I know I had early permission. It - nevermind, it doesnít matter. Anyway...

Evan Handler: Maybe they took my image and pasted me into other scenes that involve...

Alessandra Bacchetta: No, I think itís - I wasnít sure that - I donít know whether heís going to appear or not. I know that he causes - that heís doing something that causes a series of other things. So, I donít know whether he appears or not, because thatís happened in Season 1 too that Marshall caused things, but he wasnít really there, so I wasnít sure. I asked just you, you know just in case, but nevermind. Anyway, I think itís safe to say that your character has a very big impact on this season, even bigger than in - it did in Season 1.

Evan Handler: Well, he is the owner of team afterall.

Alessandra Bacchetta: Yeah.

Operator: Thank you. You have a follow-up from Reg Seeton with

Reg Seeton: Evan, in playing a successful guy like Marshall, are there any similarities to playing an agent, in terms of certain types of personalities? Like, was that easier for you?

Evan Handler: Well, the agent I play on Californication is very a particular, although I think a rather realistic one. It was interesting coming on the heels of Jeremy Pivenís great success in Entourage. But, the agents that Iíve dealt with, anyway in my life, have been much more like Charlie Runkle, meaning that they were, you know more schlumpy and more bumblers, and guys who I think lived vicariously through their clients, as opposed to the kind of slick, high flying life that theyíre often portrayed as having.

So no, I didnít feel a lot of similarity between Charlie Runkle, the particular guy that Iíve lived with for some years on Californication, and Marshall Pittman. To me, they actually seemed like pretty different creatures inhabiting different realms of existence.

Reg Seeton: Great. Thanks a lot.

Operator: Thank you. Your next follow-up question is from Diane Morasco with Morasco Media.

Diane Morasco: Hey, Evan, I have to ask you, what vision do you want to bring from your own imagination of playing Marshall to the screen?

Evan Handler: Iím trying to think of - Iím trying to think back to any particular - I mean, I tend when I work, and certainly on Californication itís become very comfortable to, you know make contributions and make suggestions. Iím trying to remember anything that might have been the case.

You know, I think when we first started doing some wardrobe tests the clothing was extremely conservative and corporate, and I came home late from being out carousing in Atlanta one time and Rob Morrow, who was directing that episode, I was wearing these, I donít know, white jeans and a sport shirt and a kind of very modern blue Italian jacket and he said, ďOh, there it is right there.Ē

And I had actually made a bid to have Marshall be - I saw no reason that he had to be conventional corporate type. I thought itíd be interesting if he actually looked like kind of a hipster, and was extremely mod in his dress. And it didnít become that, but it settled somewhere in between. But, I really thought, ďWhy not make this guy very - other than what people would think of a conventional corporate titan.Ē

Diane Morasco: Thank you so much for that.

Woman: Operator, we have time for one more question.

Operator: Okay, and thatís a follow-up question from Jamie Ruby with

Jamie Ruby: Hi again. So, how do you choose your roles?

Evan Handler: Well, you - my choices are limited by those presented to me, generally. And among those I - you know the main criteria is do I feel that this is quality material working with people whose work I respect? And then, is it something that appeals to my sense of drama or comedy, something that I feel like I can, you know wrap my fingers around and do something fun and interesting with. I guess there are different times when I feel like Iíll choose something, and thatís because I feel like it is unfamiliar and challenging to me, versus something where I just feel like I know exactly how to do this.

So, just that group of criteria, what I feel like doing at the moment, and whether itís something I feel like is going to be something I can, you know feel proud of, certainly avoiding things that I feel like Iíll feel humiliated by.

Jamie Ruby: Good. Well, thank you. I love Californication too and Netflix.

Evan Handler: Oh, thanks so much. Thank you. Weíve had a good time.

Woman: Great. We want to thank Evan for his time today. As a reminder, Necessary Roughness airs Wednesdays at 10:00/9:00 Central on USA.

A transcript will be made available to you within 48 hours after this call.

Thanks again for participating.

Evan Handler: Thanks, everybody.

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