Interview with Mary McCormack and Fred Weller of "In Plain Sight" - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Mary McCormack and Fred Weller

Transcript of Interview with Mary McCormack and Fred Weller 4/5/10

Final Transcript

In Plain Sight Conference Call with Mary McCormack & Fred Weller
April 5, 2010/1:00 p.m. EDT


Moderator We first go to the line of Lisa Steinberg from Starrymag. Please go ahead.

L. Steinberg Hello, Fred and Mary. Thank you so much for speaking with us this afternoon. I hope everything is well and you both had a nice Easter.

M. McCormack We did, thanks.

F. Weller Yes, it was great, thank you.
L. Steinberg I read a little bit about the new season having a lot less focus on the side characters, Mary specifically with your mom. I was wondering if you feel that is a good direction to go into, or do you think fans will miss the relationship?

M. McCormack I donít know how that got out there because itís actually not true. Lesley Ann is in it quite a bit. I think maybe her contract changed a little, but I think sheís in it the same amount or maybe a teeny bit less. But certainly, Nichole Hiltz is in it just as much and her boyfriend, whoís played by Josh Malina, and my boyfriend is Cristian de la Fuente. Itís definitely, equally, I donít think the balance of the show has changed. Itís definitely still half and half and half witnesses and my relationship, my friendship with Fred and then half personal life. So I think that balance is the same. I donít know how that got started, but I donít think thatís changed very much.

L. Steinberg Thatís good to hear for anyone watching the show because I love to see the interaction not only with your characters, but, of course, with your family members as well. I think that plays a big part into the show as well.

M. McCormack Yes, I think so, too. So I would be disappointed if that changed too much. I think Lesley Ann might be doing a teeny bit less, but Nichole is doing just as much.

F. Weller I think I started that rumor.

L. Steinberg Thatís good to hear. A follow-up question is, both Mary or your character and Fredís character have this amazing chemistry together. You mentioned you have a boyfriend on the show. You two just have such great chemistry, the fans are still wondering if thereís going to be any kind of romance in the works for the two of you.

M. McCormack We never know. Thatís a weird part about being on ... TV. Itís like you just donít know what the writers have in store. I guess I could ask our show runner, but I never do because itís kind of fun not knowing. For me itís fun not to know what they have in store. Itís a little more like life. But certainly thereís chemistry.

F. Weller Is that why you donít read the script in advance, because youó

M. McCormack Yes, thatís why. I donít know, Fred, what do you think?
F. Weller I think that itís a situation that has been set up considerably and I think there will inevitably be some payoff to it.

M. McCormack You do; interesting.

F. Weller I think so, yes, but not so far. Weíre teasing with it with the fake kiss in season one where you were just trying to smear ... my face and I started kissing you. There are a few little hints here and there. I think thereís a lot of setup for it. Certainly, obviously Iím upset when you were engaged to Raph last season. So thereís a fair amount of setup.

Moderator We now go to the line of Jamie Ruby from Media Blvd. Please go ahead.

J. Ruby My question is how do you prepare for doing these roles when thereís so much that they canít tell you? How do you know some of that of how to play that?

F. Weller We do have a great technical advisor, Charlie Almanza. Of course, it is amusing sometimes his answers are pointedly not very helpful.

M. McCormack Vague. But he tells us as much as he can tell us. First of all, he tells us all the general marshal stuff or how to look like a cop, feel like a cop. All that stuff heís really, really helpful with, how you go into a room if itís this certain situation or whatever. But in terms of witness protection stuff, the reason the program works, of course, is itís really, really secretive. When Charlie retired after over 30 years of service, he was the chief of the LA division of WITSEC. His kids found out what he did for a living at his retirement party, so thatís how secretive they are. They never, ever talk about itóthey bring it to their grave, all of them, inspectors. And thatís why witnesses stay safe. Thatís why WITSEC is so successful.

Charlie does tell us what he can. Heís been given to us approved by WITSEC to be our technical advisor. So weíre never sure how much heís telling us is right or just misleading. We take it all the same. We figure no one knows.

F. Weller As long as we feel like marshalsó

M. McCormack Yes, itís unlike ER. With ER, all those poor actors the doctors are always saying, ďWell, the thing is,Ē or NYPD Blue. With us no inspector can approach and tell us weíre doing it wrong. Thatís the upside.
J. Ruby My second question, Fred, you had talked last time in the one interview about you were doing Sheriff of Kingís County, at least I guess you were calling it that then. Have you gotten any furtherÖto you?

F. Weller Itís called Streetcar. I think itís playing right now at the Phoenix Film Festival and the Nashville Film Festival. It played at the NYC Downtown Film Festival and the Beverly Hills Film Festival and the World of Comedy Festival in Toronto. And itís doing the rounds and Mary McCormack is in it. Mary McCormack is very funny in it, as is Holland Taylor from Two and a Half Men.

M. McCormack As is Fredís lovely wife, Ali Marsh Weller.

F. Weller Ali Marsh Weller, who was on our show theó

M. McCormack First and second. She played my therapist.

F. Weller Wait a minute, was it the first or second?

M. McCormack I thought it was both.

F. Weller Yes, second season. She played two episodes in the second season. She was great, Ali Marsh Weller.

M. McCormack We now go to the line of Pattye Grippo from Please go ahead.

P. Grippo The first question I have is sort of for both of you. Now that youíre in the third season of the series, do you find that playing your characters is still a challenge or still fun for you? If so, in what ways?

M. McCormack Itís fun for me. Itís fun for me certainly. I love this character. Itís the best part Iíve ever played. So Iím having a ball. I love playing Mary Shannon. She cracks me up. I love working with Fred and he cracks me up. So, yes, three seasons, weíve only done, our first season was 13, our second was 16, this one is 15, so itís never so long that I feel overwhelmed by it. In fact, I miss it. Our hiatuses are so long, I miss doing it when Iím off, so thatís how I feel.

F. Weller What makes some actors nervous about doing television is the same aspect of television that makes it kind of exciting, that is when you sign on to do it, you donít know whatís going to happen. So as long as you are working with writers that you like, itís exciting because youíre always finding outó

M. McCormack And the actors.

F. Weller Yes, and the actors. Youíre always finding out new things about who youíre playing. And as you give and take and they want to hear your opinions about where you think your character should go. So, yes, I think itís a lot of fun.

M. McCormack Yes, I think thatís fun and also we just have a good time together. Not every showís cast, I think, works as well as our does together. Thatís sort of just dumb luck. Itís like you either have chemistry or you donít. Fred and I actually love hanging out together. We spend 15 hours a day on set every single day and then we eat dinner, our husbands and wives, we all eat dinner together on Saturday night. We hang out with our kids on Sunday. We enjoy each other, so I think that helps a lot, too.

F. Weller Yes, thatís big.

P. Grippo Actually, thatís good to hear. My follow-up question would be either of you, could you describe what a typical day on the set of the show is like?

M. McCormack Well, itís long hours. We work long hours. It depends. Everyday is different. Thatís part of the fun of TV. We never know what location weíll be at. Some days itís a gun fight and other days itís sort of WITSEC scene where weíre sitting around our desks trying to make each other laugh. So itís hard to say a typical day. A typical day is long and fun. We laugh a lot and we work long hours. Iíd say thatís the Ö..

F. Weller A pretty good summation.

Moderator We now go to the line of Kristyn Clarke from Pop Culture Madness. Please go ahead.

K. Clarke Iím just curious. What about your roles continue to challenge you?

M. McCormack What do you think, Fred?

F. Weller You have to keep on exploring it and investigating because the story is not finished.
M. McCormack Yes, and also with TV, we donít really know, we make it up. Sometimes weíll say what do you think he does do on the weekend? Weíll say you donít have every single detail worked out because youíre creating it as you go. So Fred and I check with each other a lot. Weíll always say do you think I do this or do you think I drive this or do you think he has this kind of collection or would he collect more of this? You want to keep it specific, so we have fun with that part of it.

Another challenge, physical challenges are just how to stay honest and good and how to make the right choices and be careful and not get lazy while under really long hours. For both of us, Fred has two kids and I have two kids, so the struggle is how to come to work fresh and ready to actually do the best work you can do and not get lazy. Ö.

F. Weller Itís not like weíre doing the same play thatís been running for two years. Itís still being written as we do it, so I think weíre comfortable with the characters. But weíre still coming up with stuff.

K. Clarke As my follow-up as a fan of the show, I think the comedy and wit in the show is so impressive. How important do you guys feel it is to break up the tension and keep that wit and comedy as a part of the series?

F. Weller I think itís very important.

M. McCormack Yes, me, too, otherwise weíre doing Law & Order.

F. Weller Yes, exactly.

M. McCormack No, I love it. I love the sense of humor. Itís a little bit off and a little bit dark and itís what cable allows. I think to me itís way more interesting than even funny shows on network and stuff because it doesnít have to reach gazillions and gazillions and gazillions. We want to reach just a gazillion. So the humor is, I donít know, a little more offbeat and itís allowed to be, and I love that.

F. Weller Also because itís ultimately a drama, we canít get too whacky like you might see on a half hour comedy. We have to have a little more letís stick to reality a bit more, I think.

M. McCormack Yes, our humor has to come out of a place that it feels more like M.A.S.H., where the jokes came out of brute reality.

F. Weller Yes.

M. McCormack When we do it right, hopefully, our humor comes out of the craziness of the situation or in my grumpiness clashing with Fredís personality. I think thatís exactly right, Fred. If we get it just right, our jokes arenít just for jokes. It comes out of hopefully the reality of the drama.

F. Weller I hope you think of me more as McIntyre than as BJ.

M. McCormack I do for sure.

F. Weller Okay.

M. McCormack For sure, yes, heís way hotter.

F. Weller Okay, cool, thanks.

Moderator We now go to the line of Jenny Rarden from Please go ahead.

J. Rarden This weekís episode includes flashbacks to the first time Mary and Marshall meet when Mary joined WITSEC. Iím extremely excited about that. Can you talk about your characters and their relationship then compared to how well the characters work together now?

F. Weller Itís a great episode and itís coming up this week. We didnít get along at all when we first met, did we?

M. McCormack No, not one bit, no. I called you a girl, I think.

F. Weller All the kind of latent abuse that we have in our current relationship is just out in the open, totallyÖ.. Mary is on the fugitive task force, kicking down doors and thinks if Iím in with witness protection I might as well be playing hop scotch.

M. McCormack Yes,Ö.babysitter.

F. Weller And the course of the episode is how she winds up changing her mind about that. I think itís a great episode.

M. McCormack And how you fall madly in love with me.

F. Weller Thatís true.

J. Rarden My follow-up question, is Maryís shooting going to have any long lasting effects on her character or even Marshall or her family?

M. McCormack I do think that thereís some, yes, thereís some tides that change. Marshall, the first episode becomes about his drive to make good on that, the guilt he feels. And my tides turn at home with my family and my mom comes after me for not quitting my job and there are some changes with that. I donít know how much I can give away, but there are some changes with my living arrangements and thereís also some big changes with relationships I have.

F. Weller Thatís already aired.

M. McCormack No. Not that.

F. Weller No? I got you, I got you.

M. McCormack There is some lasting, thereís some ripple, thereís some ripples that happen from the shooting, but itís Mary, so she wants to get right back to work and hide and work, which is where sheís happiest. But I think there are some changes she makes in her personal life because she realizes life is short.

Moderator We go to the line now of Lena Lamoray from Please go ahead.

L. Lamoray Now this question is from both of you thereís an episode coming up entitled when Mary met Marshall. Can you tell us what it was like when Mary met Fred in real life?

M. McCormack I was talking about this the other day. I canít remember when we actually met. Weíve known each other a really long time, just not very well. We have many mutual friends. My husband directed Ali, Fredís wife, in a play back in, golly, when, Fred, 2000 or something?

F. Weller Yes. Mary and I did an indie film together in í97 in which we had a scene. We had no scenes together, but we hung out a little bit watching dailies. We were both friends of Slatter.

M. McCormack Oh, yes, yes, yes.

F. Weller And then I met you once I was doing Richard Greenburg play down in ÖOrange County with Eileen Getz.

M. McCormack Eileen, yes. And then I saw you do Take Me Out in London and I came backstage and I said hello. Fred and I have had a lot of friends, we have many, many mutual friends from the theatre community in New York and so weíve known each other for probably since the mid Ď90s maybe, but not well at all. So then when we got to work together, when they said theyíve cast you, Fred, I was so excited. Then we got to working together and Iíd say we were fast friends right away.

F. Weller Yes, pretty quick.

L. Lamoray Fred, how much do you really know about Danishís?

M. McCormack How much research did you do, Fred?

F. Weller Well, I asked the technical advisor about it.

M. McCormack You did not. Donít be an ass.

F. Weller I guess itís not my favorite subject, not my best. Can I take history for $500?

Moderator We now go to the line of Linda Seide from Series Nu. Please go ahead.

L. Seide I know that both of you have done a lot of work on Broadway. Mary, you started you career in a musical, Gian Carloís Christmas opera, Amah! and Night Visitors. Can you tell how does acting in the television genre differ from being on Broadway and which one do you prefer?

M. McCormack I like both for different reasons. Itís such a boring answer, because I wish I could choose one, but I really do like both for different reasons. Thereís nothing more fun than acting on stage, I think, with a live audience and that immediate feedback. But also, the thrill is different because thereís no turning back. Thereís no take two, if you forget a prop, you forgot the prop and youíre still on stage. Itís much more alive and connected and all that. But I think I really love the challenges of television acting or film acting. The challenge is thereís 100 people on top of you. Sometimes thereís a million people all around and you still have to try to just connect with that one other person and not think about what all the crew is doing and what we need. And you have to just to push everyone out and just be there with the other person and make it great and make it real in really unreal circumstances, so I like that, too.

L. Seide I would think thatís very difficult to do.

M. McCormack It is. Thatís one of the big challenges. Another challenge is itís different everyday. You donít really know where the story is going, so itís hard to gauge. With a play you read the entire play. Youíre really familiar with it by the end of the rehearsal. You know exactly where you want each scene to be. Even if it changes over the course of a run, you have a general idea of the whole story. With television we really donít know and we shoot out of sequence. The challenge is to make it real and connected in circumstances that arenít at all. Fred?

F. Weller Iíve made the observation previously that for a theatre actor, this is a really good show to be on because as in theatre, youíre dealing with a drama with humor, which is usually what youíre dealing with in theatre. It has to be funny, but itís usually drama; whereas in television, itís usually a rather humorless drama or a whacky, whacky comedy.

M. McCormack Thatís true. Also another challenge I like is the difference in size and stuff. Obviously, you want to be detailed in both. But certainly if youíre on stage, youíre playing to a big thousand seat house or something, itís different than when you want to bring the entire thing---

F. Weller Last season just continuing the similarities between this show and theatre. Mary got to scratch her musical itch. We actually sang a little bit of Gilbert and Sullivan, Modern Major General, which is just a kind of theatrical flourish that you donít usually see on television. The show gets good and weird.

L. Seide My follow-up question is for you, actually. You worked on several crime dramas, such as the Law & Order Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit. You had a large role in Missing Persons in 1993 and í94. How does playing a U.S. marshal in WITSEC different from other types of the law enforcement roles that youíre played, especially as it concerns your preparation for embodying the character of Marshall Mann?

F. Weller I think itís more exciting because itís so secretive. Itís just fun to play a character who had thisóitís always fun to play a character with a secret. And when your whole career to which youíre really devoted is a secret, thatís a very interesting character. The whole undercover aspect of it, the fact that nobody knows really what we do, some people around us know weíre U.S. marshals, but the fact that weíre in WITSEC is something that we try to keep even from certain other members of law enforcement.

M. McCormack Iím back, Fred.

F. Weller Awesome.

M. McCormack I have a new phone and I canít work it.

L. Seide Okay, so Fred was telling me about his preparation for embodying the character of Marshall Mann.

F. Weller I was just getting into my animal work. Obviously this season, itís more chimpanzee. Last season it was penguin, but I think the audience picks up that.

L. Seide I thank you very much to the responses to my questions and I hope you have a wonderful season.

M. McCormack Thank you.

L. Seide And be back for more.

M. McCormack Yay, me, too. I hope so, too.

Moderator We now go to the line of Jamie Ruby from Media Blvd. Please go ahead.

J. Ruby So what would be your ultimate dream role or is there maybe somebody specific that youíd love to with in the future?

M. McCormack I would say Jeff Bridges, but I was lucky enough to work with Jeff Bridges, although Iíd love to work with him again. Those are two goodies. Top that and donít come out with that old Meryl Streep trip because everyone has heard it.

F. Weller Oh, thatís right, I worked with Meryl Streep.

M. McCormack Donít say Meryl like an ass.

F. Weller I almost forgot that Meryl and I Ö.. Iíd like to work with Al Pacino. I love scenery chewing actors in a good way.

M. McCormack Yes, youíre on your way to work with him Iím sure now.

F. Weller No, you think?

M. McCormack That will take care of it.

F. Weller Darn!

M. McCormack Darn is right.

F. Weller No, I like theatrical.

M. McCormack Too late.

F. Weller Gosh, Al, you know itís love.

M. McCormack You call Pacino scenery chewing. Iím just saying.

F. Weller No, Iíd really love to work with, of course, now any actor is going to be insulted, but Iíd love to work with another person that Mary has worked with, Mark Rilens. He won the Tony for that play for which you were nominated.

M. McCormack I was nominated, but did not win. But have you been nominated, because I always forget?

F. Weller Whatís that?

M. McCormack Have you been nominated because I just always forget?

F. Weller Yes, you forget, donít you? Not for a Tony, no, butó

M. McCormack Okay, thatís cool.

F. Weller Thanks for making me remind you.

J. Ruby My follow-up is for Mary.

F. Weller Itís a little frustrating that I try to do a play every off season and Mary wings in after a few years out in New York and just gets nominated for a Tony.

M. McCormack Sorry, Freddie.

F. Weller Anyway.

M. McCormack We give each other a hard time about it. Itís an ongoing riff we have.

F. Weller Itís funny to us.

J. Ruby Mary, this question is for you. I know that youíve been on a lot of different late shows and interviews and that. Could you talk a little bit about that because it must be a lot of fun?

M. McCormack I donít mind it. I enjoyed it. Iím going to do Ellen today, actually, after I hang up with you guys. I enjoy it. I donít mind it. I like Craig Ferguson a lot. I did a movie with him years ago and I enjoy him a lot and Ellen. Iím doing Leno this week, so it will be fun. Anything to get the word out, we all work really hard on In Plain Sight, so itís nice to get the word out.

Moderator We now go back to the line of Lisa Steinberg from Starrymag. Please go ahead.

L. Steinberg I know that, Mary, youíre on Twitter now and Josh is on Twitter.

M. McCormack Ö.is on Twitter now. Josh gets all the west wingers.

L. Steinberg I was wondering how much that plays a part in connecting with the fans and, of course, keeping the word out there about the show.

M. McCormack Thatís why I like it. I signed up as a joke and my husband teases me. Heís like youíre so pathetically trying to stay young. We have a big tease about it, but Josh Malina said itís a nice way for your fans to be able to ask you questions about the show or for you to say this person is guesting this week or what have you. Also in something that started, a conversation that started as a joke made a lot of sense. I thought how nice to be able to hear from fans or hear what they like or donít like and to be able to say Allison Janney is this week, tune in and have them tell friends. To me it feels like a nice way to connect with people who care about the show. Even though I take a lot of heckling from both my husband and from Fred Weller for being too old to Tweet, they say, but Iím doing it anyway. Iím standing up to them for my fans.

L. Steinberg It certainly looks like in the short amount of time, that youíve gotten a lot of followers, so they canít heckle you too much.

M. McCormack I know. They will anyway, trust me.

L. Steinberg You mentioned some of the people that youíd like to work with. I was wondering how much input into the guest starring roles do you have, obviously Donnie Walberg, and Allison Janney.

M. McCormack Yes, we have a lot. We have a pretty collaborative group. So anyone who suggest someone whoís good, both our casting people and our producers are ready to listen. Any actor who has a friendship that they can take advantage of, we will listen.

Moderator We now go back to the line of Jenny Rarden from Please go ahead.

J. Rarden I just had one follow-up question. Brandi has been getting mysterious phone calls. She got them throughout the first episode. Iím assuming that most of us are guessing it has something to do with the whole bad half sister from the end of last season. When will we learn more about those phone calls and when will Mary learn more about all of that situation?

M. McCormack I think episode eight is when you find out who was on the other end of that phone call.

J. Rarden So not until then.

M. McCormack Not until then, but there are some other clues along the way, but I think eight is when you actually meet the person.

C. Fehskens We have time for one last question.

Moderator We go to the line of Amy Harrington from Pop Culture Passionistaís. Please go ahead.

A. Harrington Mary, I actually had a question for you. Iím wondering if youíre still watching realty TV.

M. McCormack Oh, my God, I am.

A. Harrington And if youíre still using your laser pointer.

M. McCormack I used my laser pointer two nights ago, but it was on a YouTube video, but it was brilliant. We have Apple TV, so we put the YouTube video from the TV and I was laser pointing all over the place. But my two new favorite shows are Locked Up Abroad and then my other one is Jamie Oliverís Food Revolution, which is just amazing.

F. Weller What is Locked Up Abroad?

M. McCormack Locked Up Abroad is based on an English show that was called Banged Up Abroad. And itís all about people who go abroad and then make one or two bad decisions and end up locked up abroad. Pretty good, you cannot believe how good. Itís National Geographic and for some reason, they must have saved up all their money for years. They shoot it like a feature. Itís gorgeous. Itís well acted. Their reenactments are amazing. Itís gorgeous, Fred. Itís so compelling. I canít say enough about it, the best show on TV except for In Plain Sight. And Survivor is better than ever.

C. Fehskens Ladies and gentlemen, thatís all the time that we have to todayís session. Iíd like to once again thank Mary McCormack and Fred Weller for being with us today and remind everybody to tune in to an all new episode of In Plain Sight this Wednesday with guest stars Allison Janney and Josh Cooke, which will be on 10/9 central on USA Network. Thank so much, everybody, and enjoy the rest of your day.

M. McCormack Thank you, everybody. Bye, Fred. Send my love to Ali and the kids.

F. Weller Will do.

Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for using AT&T Executive Teleconference. You may now disconnect.

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