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Interview with BD Wong and Cherry Jones of "Awake" on NBC 2/28/12
This interview became unexpectedly interesting because I
was able to ask
the two about something that star Jason Isaacs had said the previous day,
and they were pretty shocked by what he said (you can read about it
below). I did try to talk to them some more, but the people in charge
were trying to move the call along, as they often do, so they cut me off
before I could ask any more questions. Still, it was enjoyable
listening to these two pros talk about their shows and other things.
They were both very funny, laughing and joking a lot.
Moderator: Matthew Mitchell
February 28, 2012
12:00 pm CT
Operator: Thank you for standing by and welcome to the Awake BD Wong and
Cherry Jones press and media call. During the presentation all
participants will be in a listen-only mode. Afterwards we will conduct a
question-and-answer session. At that time if you have a question, please
press the one followed by the four on your telephone. If at any time
during the conference you need to reach an operator, please press star
As a reminder this conference is being recorded Tuesday, February 28,
2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Matthew Mitchell.
Please go ahead, sir.
Matthew Mitchell: Hi there. Thanks everyone for joining us this morning
for our Awake call. On the line as was just mentioned we have Cherry
Jones and BD Wong. Please note Awake will premier this Thursday, March
1, at 10 p.m. Pacific and Eastern times.
Iím now going to turn it over for the first question.
Operator: All right. Ladies and gentlemen, if you would like to register
a question, please press the one followed by the four on your telephone.
You will hear a three-tone prompt to acknowledge your request. If your
question has been answered and you would like to withdraw your
registration, just press the one followed by the three. If youíre using
a speaker phone, please lift your handset before entering your request.
Our first question comes from the line of Jamie Steinberg with Starry
Constellation magazine. Please proceed with your question.
Jamie Steinberg: Hi itís such a pleasure to speak with both of you.
Thank you for your time.
BD Wong: Sure.
Cherry Jones: I like the name of your magazine.
Jamie Steinberg: Oh, thank you so much. I was wondering, BD what was it
about this role that made you want to play another psychiatrist,
BD Wong: I didnít really want to play another psychiatrist or
psychologist, but I was looking for a change after being on SVU for 11
years, and I just liked the script, the Awake script, which was then
called REM, so much that I kind of just jumped at the chance and I did
it rather blind to the fact that the characters were in the same job,
actually. I just really thought the script was great and I wanted to be
on the show.
Jamie Steinberg: Cherry, what brought you to the role?
Cherry Jones: Well, I was contacted by Howard Gordon a while ago, I mean
a long time ago, about this show. And he, you know like producers do and
writers do, he just told me this very, very rough, rough sketch of the
show. And I thought, well that sounds awfully intriguing. And then I
guess when they wrote the part they wrote it for a, like a, you know,
29-year-old blonde, very inexperienced, very enthusiastic psychiatrist.
And at that point, you had Brittenís beautiful young wife, you had the
tennis instructor for Brittenís son, who was a beautiful young woman,
and then you had this young psychiatrist who was a beautiful young
woman. And I think finally the producers said to Kyle, weíll give you
one, weíll give you two, but we ainít going to give you three.
And so they upped the age of the psychiatrist and called me and like BD
I read the script and I just thought it was really intriguing, had no
idea how it could work or sustain itself, but wanted to come along for
And again, you know, itís like the thing with pilots, you never have a
clue whether theyíre going to get picked up or not. And we just, you
know, we just didnít know, except the quality of it sure looked good
while we were making it.
Jamie Steinberg: And just quickly, BD youíre a part of the social
networking site Twitter, why is that such an important place for you to
connect with fans and promote things youíre working on.
BD Wong: I find it a little bit like a game and I really enjoy it, it
really entertains me in a way that I was surprised by, itís quite
addictive. And I do find it a little bit like a platform for a kind of
weird performance art, you know, 140 characters for you to say something
thatís hopefully interesting and not too self-indulgent.
And I just really have enjoyed it. And the side effects of it being a
way to interact with people who are interested in what youíre doing is
also been great. You know itís come in really handy when this show was
about to premiere and Iím testing the waters of how people respond to
the show and have a good, really god feeling for their enthusiasm for
Jamie Steinberg: Great, thank you guys so much.
BD Wong: Sure.
Cherry Jones: Thank you Jamie.
Operator: All right, our next question comes from the line of Mike
Hughes with TV America, please go ahead.
Mike Hughes: Hey, I think itís so impressive that these are two Tony
winners going against each other as dueling therapists here. Iíd like if
each of you could reflect for just a second on kind of what does it mean
to you the first time you won a Tony. And in this case, is this role
feel a little bit like youíre doing a play, because in both cases,
absolutely two actors just eye-to-eye and nothing else going on.
BD Wong: Oh wow.
Cherry Jones: Lovely question.
Mike Hughes: Go ahead, yes, go ahead.
BD Wong: Well Iíll just say I donít, you know, I only have the one Tony
so I donít have more than a frame of reference.
Mike Hughes: Okay.
BD Wong: But I do feel that the style of this show affords me more of an
opportunity even though itís on television to use some of the - I donít
know, to access some of the fun and the depth of the work that you can
possibly do on - I donít think itís at all similar really, I always find
television completely different from working on stage.
But I do feel that there is a kind of depth to this particular show that
is a new thing for me. And I would kind of compare that in some way to
the writing and the execution of a good play. But it is still kind of
Mike Hughes: Okay, and Cherry the same thing for you. Kind of tell us
for a second just what it means to be a two-time Tony winner, I mean is
that a cool thing to follow you around as you go up for jobs and also
the same thing, does this feel like a play in some ways, your scenes.
Cherry Jones: Well, Iíll tell you honestly the first time I won a Tony,
I was, the next day I was so depressed. I think itís cause - I think,
well, Newt Gingrich is a great example, I canít believe I just cited
Newt Gingrich, but we all like to be the underdog, and thereís something
about being the underdog, the expectations are not as great or
something, and when you win a Tony, the next day I was young enough that
I thought, oh no, now Iíve got to be really good, and it depressed me.
The second one is like, this is great, you know, I was old enough to
just enjoy it. But it - I canít say, Iím like BD, I canít really say,
itís so different, and of course our roles are rather just physically
rather static. So it really is about my brain trying to figure out his
And thatís about as - I donít know if micro is the right word, but in
acting it doesnít get much smaller than that in a way, because youíre
just going from one brain to the next, and just trying to - and we have
very different techniques, the two doctors, which is fun to play,
although we rarely have - you know, I wish we could be in a court of law
sometimes the way he goes about it, just trying to help Detective
But itís, I canít even begin to say that itís like a play. I mean, I
guess itís like if you string them all together then itís like a play.
If you string all 13 episodes and our scenes together, then itís like a
play, then itís our play and Brittenís play.
Mike Hughes: Okay, cool.
BD Wong: Really not like a play in that, you know, we never see each
other face-to-face as characters, weíre not really going head-to-head in
that way, except the editor is making us go head-to-head. We are never
even in the same room. So we donít have the action of playing off of
each other in that way that you do when youíre on stage. We definitely
are robbed of that.
Mike Hughes: Okay, thanks.
Cherry Jones: Thank you Mike.
Operator: Once again to give a question please press the one followed by
the four on your telephone. Our next question comes from the line of
Earl Dittman with Wireless Magazines. Please go ahead.
Earl Dittman: Hi, how are you all this afternoon.
Cherry Jones: Hello, Earl.
Earl Dittman: Let me ask you both, I got a million questions but of
course I canít ask that many. So Iíll start with - Cherry, of course we
last time we saw you on television was on 24, which was fantastic. And
that was an incredible role, and itís - I wish it would have been - we
could have seen more of you, but the show ran its course. How did you
enjoy doing that, and then coming into this show?
Cherry Jones: Well, I loved being the president of the United States.
You get a lot of respect in airports, especially from the screeners. No,
it was a great job. And things have gotten much more quiet for me now,
Iíve gone from president of the United States to a psychiatrist with
seemingly only one client, so my responsibilities have become smaller.
But I, you know, it is, itís cool to just sit in a chair and you canít
even really, I donít know, I donít even think of it as acting. Itís
something about when itís that small, and so intimate, it becomes
something else, I donít know, of course itís acting, but itís a very
different experience from anything Iíve had before.
Earl Dittman: What would you say BD? Do you see what sheís trying to
say, I mean do you agree with her in terms of that, of - in terms of
being a psychiatrist, psychologist, or...
BD Wong: You mean me?
Earl Dittman: Yes, sir, Iím sorry.
BD Wong: Well, you know, who else is there, right? The thing that I
would agree with is that definitely that its focus is taken off of your
body entirely when youíre sitting on that chair and is put on your face
and inside your brain more. And so youíre - I know exactly what Cherryís
talking about when she says thereís a completely different feeling to
the kind of acting that youíre doing.
I donít think there really is a name for it. Itís just not body acting
at all. I mean itís very rarely at all related to anything youíre doing
physically. And so that causes a kind of uber-cerebralness to it, I
think, it makes you really aware of the thoughts and the ideas that
youíre talking about in a way. Itís almost like turning the lights out
or something like that
And you know, like hearing a personís voice and really being able to
concentrate on what it is that theyíre saying because youíre only
looking at their face and listening to their voice and not processing
their body language. So I totally agree with that, I think thatís really
an interesting aspect of the part.
And on those very few times when Iíve actually stood up or been in a
situation there have been a couple of situations in the course of the
season in which I was not sitting in that chair, it was a little bit of
an adjustment to make. Oh wow, this person actually walks and talks and
does, you know, behaves differently outside of that chair, so.
Cherry Jones: And if I had anything to do over, I have a gorgeous chair
in my office that I sit in, but if I had anything to do over, I would
have made it much more comfortable. Nice padded arms, I have spools,
wooden spools for arms, I would have done something about that, since
itís my one little stage, that chair.
Earl Dittman: One last question for you, BD. You were on Law and Order
for 11 years. Did you jump, did they woo - were you wooed from that to
do this, or was your time up there?
BD Wong: No, my time was not up, I was kind of just looking around and I
decided at the time when new shows were starting to be cast, I decided
to just kind of throw my hat in the ring again and see if anything would
turn up. And I was lucky that this came along, and so I just basically
kind of quietly transitioned from one to the other. They never even
really explained what happened to Dr. Huang on...
Earl Dittman: No, he just disappeared.
BD Wong: And I suppose that left the door open for some kind of
reappearance or something, but it was very quiet and uneventful, and so
no, I was kind of in my - by my own doing kind of lured from one to the
Earl Dittman: Well, thank you both for your time, and best of luck, this
is going to be one of the greatest shows of this spring season. I wish
you all the best, because you are both fantastic.
BD Wong: Thank you.
Cherry Jones: Well, thank you Earl and weíre both firm, strongly behind
our leading man, Mr. Jason Isaacs. Heís superb in this, and heís just
the greatest guy. Heís fun.
Earl Dittman: Good deal, thank you so much.
BD Wong: Thanks.
Cherry Jones: Thank you.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Kathie Huddleston),
with Sci Fi Magazine.
Kathie Huddleston: Good to talk to you, thanks for doing this.
BD Wong: Sure.
Kathie Huddleston: So I have a question for you guys here. What do you
think your reality - do you think your reality is the real one or the
imagined one, and why.
BD Wong: Well, obviously mine is the real reality. There can be no
other, and thereís no even questioning it as far as Iím concerned. In
fact Iím not even sure who it is that weíre talking to right now.
Cherry Jones: Iím - of course, Iím sort of amazed that Detective
Brittenís psyche would come up with a therapist like Dr. Lee, but weíre
going to be working on that.
BD Wong: Really there is no, to be honest, no other way to play any of
the scenes than that you are the one that is real and that the other
person is the one thatís imagined. If you start thinking about it to
much, youíll go crazy, literally.
Cherry Jones: And you canít say - I mean itís ludicrous, I mean of
course weíre the real ones. And thatís whatís so, you know for - as real
as we know we are, thatís the dilemma for Detective Britten. Each world
is as real as we know we are, you know, I mean itís - it is, itís like a
hall of mirrors.
BD Wong: Yes, I think that he, you know, that as far as it being also a
television show, one must always be open to any possibility. I mean the
show can be, who knows what the writers have in store for what really is
real and what is not, and there are times when Iím not clear about it at
all, and I like it that way. I think...
Cherry Jones: What I love about it is I mean when you think about our
own dreams and how we can create, flesh out living, breathing people
that we know intimately or that weíve never met before, and yet our
brains are capable of these incredible scenarios.
And you know, even when we dream about famous people that we know, weíre
writing - our brains are writing all the dialogue. I mean, weíre
brilliant in our dreams. And what makes this one unique is that he has
ordered this other dream in such a completely realistic way that of
course you canít tell whatís real and whatís not.
Kathie Huddleston: Right.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Tara Bennett of SFX
magazine, please go ahead.
Tara Bennett: Hi guys, thanks so much for doing this.
BD Wong: Hey, Tara.
Cherry Jones: Sure, Tara.
Tara Bennett: So my question, we talked to Jason just earlier this week
and he said that his relationships with both of you shifts as the season
moves along and the end of the pilot he basically kind of rejects both
of you helping him. And so, tell me a little bit about how you approach
being his psychologist. Are you kind of, either of you coming at him
aggressively, or how does that relationship kind of evolve in both of
BD Wong: I think heís probably most resistant to me and thatís partly
because Iím the one thatís more aggressive and challenging and a little
bit less pleasant, to be quite honest. And also who wouldnít be more
irritated by me than by Cherry Jones?
And I think that he is, you know, whatís funny to me is that he really
is in my, from my perception, Britten is resistant the entire time from
the whole idea of treatment or even dealing with any of this, as well as
he should be to support the premise of the show.
And he - and so thatís just an evolution that continues throughout the
season until thereís finally a kind of breaking point. But I find him
very resistant the entire time, donít you Cherry?
Cherry Jones: Yes, because he just canít, you know it means giving up
one of his loved ones, so of course heís going to resist.
Dr. Evansí approach is, it is much softer and she is - understands that
he is in tremendous pain and rather than trying to confront him with,
you know, the absurdity of what he believes to be true, my character
really does want to try to create a very safe environment, so that he
can feel free to tell me everything and through, you know, this we can
maybe create a blueprint for him to move back to one world.
BD Wong: You know it really does make you realize how, you know itís
very rare that you have a character that has two therapists. I mean,
none of us has two therapists, I mean not that I know of anyway, and so
itís very rare that you can make a comparison between two different
doctorís techniques. And it makes you realize how crucial that
relationship you have with your therapist is.
I mean there are all these other therapists out there, is there a one
that would be better for me than the one that Iíve got? And that kind of
thing. I just think thatís really interesting. Their techniques are so
different, and he seems to be equally uncomfortable or comfortable with
either of them.
I donít think heís more or less comfortable with one of us than the
other. But he is uncomfortable with the whole idea of being treated, and
yet he knows that somethingís really not right with himself, and so he
continues to stick it out. But I just find it really fascinating that
you get to see how two people deal with the same problem. Two different
doctors are dealing with the same situation, because itís quite
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Suzanne Lanoue with
the TV MegaSite. Please go ahead.
Suzanne Lanoue: Hi, itís nice to speak with you both today.
BD Wong: Hello.
Suzanne Lanoue: On yesterdayís call with Jason, he said that he was told
which world was real and which wasnít. So are you guys saying that you
donít know, or you do know?
Cherry Jones: Wait a minute. Would you please say that again?
Suzanne Lanoue: Jason Isaacs said that he was told which world was real
and which was not.
Cherry Jones: Had you heard that BD?
BD Wong: That he said that? No I did not. I wouldnít be so surprised
that he would say that. But I - and maybe he was, I donít know. We - Iím
- you may be able to tell from our reaction that we were not.
Suzanne Lanoue: Yes.
BD Wong: I think we - I wonít speak for Cherry but I prefer it that way.
I donít really want to know.
Suzanne Lanoue: Sure, it works better for you as an actor, right?
BD Wong: Yes, absolutely, and I think the longer that we suspend that
mystery and suspense about one being real and the other not being real,
the better it is for the show in some ways.
Cherry Jones: I am intrigued by that statement. No, well, not yours but
that Jason knows. I am stunned. And now we can just - when we see him
again we can just throw him down on the floor and tickle him until he
BD Wong: That you - yes. Which would be fun in any case anyway.
Cherry Jones: Yes, but youíre right, we must not know until, you know,
the fat lady sings with this one.
BD Wong: Thatís what it feels like to me. Iím shocked. But doesnít - I
mean it is kind of a Jason-y thing to say, donít you think?
Cherry Jones: So you donít think itís true?
BD Wong: Iím not saying that he would lie about that. Because I think
that he probably has some kind of perception of the resolution of the
show, possibly, maybe as the co-producer of the show and as the leading
man of the show, he does have a better understanding than we do of
whatís to come. But that is actually, Iím just guessing that, because
you know when I spend the day-to-day with him, I feel like he really
doesnít know, and I feel like...
Cherry Jones: I forget the co-producer part.
BD Wong: What did you say?
Cherry Jones: I forget the co-producer part, that he has more
responsibilities than just acting Detective Britten.
BD Wong: Yes, and he also plays a role as the person whoís the
centerpiece of the whole show, you know as the leading man of the show.
And you know, he, I suppose he could if he wanted to demand to know what
their thoughts and plans were. I donít think I personally would if I was
him, but maybe heís done that.
Cherry Jones: Maybe the writers in both worlds have told him which one
BD Wong: Thatís right. Theyíre...
Cherry Jones: Maybe heís splitting off into many different characters
and his, maybe - I donít know what Iím trying to say. Iíll just stop
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Allison Ebner with
PopCultureMadness.com. Please go ahead.
Allison Ebner: Hi Cherry, hi BD, thanks for speaking with us today.
Cherry Jones: Thank you. Kristen?
Allison Ebner: Allison.
Cherry Jones: Say it again?
BD Wong: Allison.
Allison Ebner: Allison.
Cherry Jones: Oh, Allison, thank you,.
Allison Ebner: So it almost seems as though there are two casts on the
show, you know, the red and the green. Do you guys get to see each other
on set, you two, you know, do you get to compare notes or, you know, sit
down and work out ways to exacerbate the differences between the
BD Wong: We do, I mean we donít...
Cherry Jones: Go ahead, BD.
BD Wong: Sorry. We donít really act with each other but we do pass each
other in the night as it were. Our sets are next to each other, Cherryís
office set and my office set are right adjacent to one another. So
invariably they shoot our scenes on the same day and we either - one of
us will be first and the other one will follow, and theyíll call us in a
kind of overlapping way.
So we definitely see each other and we see each other as weíre preparing
in makeup and all of that stuff. But we also, you know, like Iíve taken
to kind of leaving notes for Cherry on the set and stuff like that, that
she might find randomly.
Cherry Jones: Little Easter eggs, yes.
BD Wong: Easter eggs.
Cherry Jones: Dr. Lee was here.
BD Wong: There is a kind of, well I donít know, you know, thereís the
Rex and Hannah thing, and I never get to act with Dylan, who plays Rex,
and you know but I may be there on the same day as Laura as it turns
Iíve run into everyone, but for the most part, my scenes are all with
Jason for the most part, and I only really work with Jason and then
everyone else I run into is just based on whether theyíve been called a
little earlier or later than I am and Iíve just run into them in the
makeup room or the trailers or at the food table or something like that.
Cherry Jones: And Iíll tell you what Allison, we all kind of fall on
each other when we see each other, because itís a really, really sweet
group of people.
BD Wong: It is.
Cherry Jones: Everyone gets along and supports each other, and when we
do run into Wilmer or Steve or Dylan or, you know, we all are just so
happy to see each other and do a quick catch-up on how their world is
BD Wong: Yes, I do really like everyone, itís a really nice group of
people. One of the nicer groups.
Cherry Jones: Yes, itís one of those groups, and you know, the crew is
so great, youíd love to see it go on and on, just because those kind of
- itís not that theyíre rare, those kind of families making a show, but
it has, I think this one must be particularly pleasant.
BD Wong: I mean, they often say that thereís always one kind of icky
person, and we donít have that. I donít think we have it even on the
crew, which is kind of amazing to me.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Diana Daily) with
the (unintelligible). Please proceed with your question.
Diana Daily: Thank you. Good morning and congratulations. This looks
to be quite exciting.
Cherry Jones: Oh good, thank you.
Diana Daily: Since you, sorry I lost my spot here. Although your
characters have really different approaches to the therapy, are they on
a parallel journey with each other to the same place with Britten, or
different? How do you both see it?
BD Wong: I would imagine, I think that we are on a parallel journey,
donít you think?
Cherry Jones: Yes, yes, towards one world in health.
BD Wong: And I think that parallel journey has to do with the fact that
the arc of the season is following the central character, Britten, and
so his issues are bouncing, you know, our work with him is bouncing off
of what heís experiencing. So heíll come in one day and say, ďThis
happened.Ē And then either of us will say, ďOh, well tell me about, Iíll
tell you what I think that means that this happened.Ē And so we each
have a different take on that one central theme of the episode or
something like that.
And so I do think that that forces us to be kind of running alongside
one another, where nobodyís every, you know, way off in a different
place, because weíre linked by this character.
Diana Daily: True. Thatís true. And can you both tell us how your
characters were different when you first read this script, and how they
changed to fit you as the actors, what youíve brought to the particular
Cherry Jones: Well, I know that because mine was originally written as a
very inexperienced, very enthusiastic young psychiatrist, obviously -
and I donít know if she was almost written originally as some kind of
comic relief. Because she was sort of, you know, almost, you know, gee
whiz about everything, you know, everything was fantastic and wow.
BD Wong: She nodded a lot.
Cherry Jones: Huh?
BD Wong: She nodded a lot.
Cherry Jones: She nodded a lot and was just sort of blown away by, you
know, every revelation. And obviously when they hired a more mature
actress, they had to, through the first two or three episodes, theyíre
still trying to figure out who she is, and I think they still wanted to
keep this, this very extreme contrast between the two psychiatrists.
So, and I think maybe the second episode, they have my character be
very, you know, Iím talking about Greek mythology and aboriginal dreams
and you know Iím doing all this sort of almost more academic stuff, but
with a great deal of enthusiasm. And then they sort of settled her down
into more of a Mother Earth kind of character as it goes along.
So I was just along for the ride for the first two or three episodes
till they started to hear her voice. So thatís my journey in the first
BD Wong: I think that my journey has maintained a certain kind of thread
of consistency, although I did discover at the end of the season a kind
of a - I donít want to give away what happens so Iím going try to be
careful about what I say, but I did realize how much I cared about him
at the end of the season, because in the beginning of the season I found
that I was very challenging to him and kind of giving him a lot of
ultimatums and tough love, in a very clinical kind of way.
And I think somehow either just naturally or partly naturally, partly
written into the arc of the character, was the sense that he was not
only very invested in the outcome of the health, of mental health of
Brittenís character, but that he actually was invested enough to care,
to have emotions that had to do with, you know, either his happiness at
his success or the sadness of his failure.
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of Jamie Ruby with SciFi
Vision. Please proceed with your question.
BD Wong: SciFi Vision.
Jamie Ruby: Yes. Hi, thanks for doing the call. And Iíd - you know, I
love what Iíve seen so far, I kind of consider it sci fi, but I love it
either way so far. This is kind of expanding on what you guys were just
talking about, but it seems like at least over the course of what Iíve
seen so far that obviously theyíre both going at different angles of how
to approach everything.
But do you think they have different motivations, because at times it
seems theyíre not - you know, maybe one is more concerned with, that,
you know, Cherry your characterís concerned with the dreams helping him
see other things where Lee is more like, you know, you have to stop
these dreams because theyíre hurting you. Do you think that they both
are after something different, or do you think itís just part of the
BD Wong: Ultimately I think they really want him to admit that heís
dreaming. And how they go about that, or how they view it may be very
different. Iím all about, and Iím saying, ďYou are dreaming,Ē you know,
ďFess up that youíre dreaming,Ē almost. And Cherry I think finds, well
Iíll let her speak for herself...
Cherry Jones: Thank you.
BD Wong: ...it seems to me she finds it useful that the dream is
actually happening and as a tool, itís part of a tool.
Cherry Jones: Yes, I mean I think thatís a very interesting question
because yes, we both want him to come back to living in one world. But I
think Dr. Evansí approach may bring him back to one world, with a
greater understanding of that one world. Because she is delving into why
- I mean and I know your character is too, BD, why are you dreaming
this, and what, you know, what does that tell you about the here-and-now
in this world.
But I, you know, if they can get him back in the same world and heís
learned something about his real world from those dreams, thatís, yes,
thatís what weíre looking for.
BD Wong: Except that you and I will no longer have a job.
Cherry Jones: This is true.
Jamie Ruby: Are the characters going to start delving more into kind of
about the accident somewhat? So we can learn more about that?
BD Wong: Yes.
Jamie Ruby: Okay, good, I donít want to spill too much. My other
question was, did you guys do any research kind of on psychology before
the role, I mean BD you may have before, but did you need any of that?
BD Wong: I didnít, I mean I didnít even do it very much before, although
Neal Baer who was the showrunner on Law and Order, is a doctor himself
and thatís partly why I, my character was added to that cast, was
because the medical perspective was brought in by the showrunner.
And so all the research that I was able to do on that show came from
Neal and his understanding of, you know, and his knowledge and all of
that. I didnít really do much on my own, except for years of my own
therapy. And so I - my doorbell is ringing, isnít that bad luck? Cherry
why donít you talk for a second?
Cherry Jones: I guess I, you know, I havenít done much research either,
I guess because whatever the writers have us say sort of becomes our
instruction manual as psychologists. I, you know, I almost donít want to
delve too much into other techniques since the only techniques Iím going
to be given are from the writers, so that becomes my bible for Evansí
BD Wong: Yes.
Cherry Jones: I donít want to start knowing so much about it that I go
to the writers and say, ďWell, Jung said...Ē
BD Wong: I donít either, and I also - I just like to be, I mean thatís
the strange thing about being in a television show as opposed to being
in a play or a movie. You have to be as open as possible to any number
of things that are going to turn or twist in a way that if you had made
a decision about something, or know something very specific, it could be
Cherry Jones: Yes. You chisel out your character as you get the scripts
in a way, too.
Operator: All right, our next question comes from the line of Lance
Carter with DailyActor.com. Please go ahead.
Cherry Jones: Hello, Lance.
BD Wong: Hey, thatís me. The Daily Actor?
Lance Carter: Itís a website for actors and an entertainment website, we
have a bunch of, you know, acting columns and things like that.
BD Wong: Oh, great.
Cherry Jones: Cool.
Lance Carter: Yes, and so - Iím a huge theater geek and this is totally
making my day listening to you guys talk.
BD Wong: Wow, great.
Lance Carter: Yes, so, you guys are all wonderful at the TV, film, and
theater. But if you had your choice, what would you guys prefer to do,
all the time?
BD Wong: The theater.
Cherry Jones: Well, if - yes, theater. If itís one or the other forever
more, I think itís definitely without any question.
Lance Carter: And, oh go ahead.
BD Wong: Iím sorry, you cut out there, I didnít hear what you said.
Lance Carter: Oh, no I was just going to ask another question. I always
love to ask this to people I admire, but whatís one of the worst
auditions youíve ever had?
BD Wong: Oh, God.
Cherry Jones: Oh, thereís been so many.
BD Wong: Yes.
Cherry Jones: I have terrible nerves, Iím the worst auditioner in the
world. I just become terribly nervous because I canít stand having one
shot. You know, itís such an unnatural thing to do. Itís like, you know,
you, as an actor, if youíre worth your salt, youíre going to grow and
grow ad grow each time, and you know often you donít have the material
long enough to really be able to give it your all.
And thereís some people who are much better at it than others. But I
remember one in particular, Peter Frechette and I went in to audition
for Julie Harrisí Glass Menagerie. I think Calista Flockhart and Zeljko
Ivanek eventually got the roles, and Peter and I were just, we were big
Lauras and Toms and we were big people, and Julie was so petite, and we
just did not do probably our best work that day.
But I remember Peter said as we exited, he said, ďYou know, Cherry if we
ever play Laura and Tom, the only woman we could do it with playing
Amanda would be Nancy Marchand.Ē
BD Wong: Or Leontyne Price.
Cherry Jones: Iím the worst auditioner in the world and my heart goes
out to anyone out there today whoís going in for an audition.
BD Wong: Yes, I mean I donít know how to top that. I have had too many
bad auditions to even begin to think about the worst one. I do actually
like to audition and...
Cherry Jones: Oh, you do not. Youíre one of those?
BD Wong: I am one of those. Not that I like to, but I think of it
sometimes as a bit of a sport. And yet that doesnít mean that I, that
itís by any stretch of the imagination that itís always good or that I
always do well or anything like that.
Cherry Jones: Thatís a healthy approach.
BD Wong: I donít know, I just think Iíve made a bit of a game out of it,
maybe itís because I felt like I had to do it so much earlier on in my
career that I did it as a survival, you know, some kind of survival
mechanism kicked in or something.
Cherry Jones: I usually leave auditions muttering to myself in such a
way that people avoid me on the street.
BD Wong: Well, and then Iím always muttering to myself on the way in as
well, because Iím trying to over-prepare something. Youíre muttering in
completely ways on the way in and the way out.
Cherry Jones: Yes, I think half the people in New York City that people
think are schizophrenics are just actors coming or going from auditions.
BD Wong: Yes, I find it always, afterwards I feel this really huge sense
of relief and a sense of almost always not having done as well as I had
hoped for myself.
Cherry Jones: Oh, and then thereís those rare ones where you just feel
like you nailed it. Which we can probably note for each of us may be
BD Wong: I would say that I have done that very few times and theyíre
very memorable times. I would say the one time that I knew that I had
done that was the audition for M. Butterfly, that was probably - I felt
that in such a potent way.
Cherry Jones: How old were you when you did that, BD?
BD Wong: Twenty-seven. Not as young as one might think, but...
Cherry Jones No, but thatís young.
BD Wong: Extremely inexperienced. But then I did, to finish the
anecdote, I was in a play at the Pasadena Playhouse, a musical, and I
had to fly back home after this audition to do a performance that
evening. And I left the theater on a high, and I got in a taxi and I
went to the airport, I went to JFK and realized that my ticket was for
Cherry Jones: Oh.
BD Wong: So I was completely, in a complete state of, you know,
disorientation the whole time. I donít think I can add anything else to
Operator: Our next question comes from the line of (Lena Lamoray) with
LenaLamoray.com Please go ahead.
Lena Lamoray: Hi BD and Cherry.
Cherry Jones: Hello.
BD Wong: Hi, (Lina).
Lena Lamoray: Now the pilot was fantastic.
BD Wong: Oh, great, thanks.
Cherry Jones: Iíve not seen it yet, I canít wait because people have
responded so well to it, I canít wait to see what they came up with. The
little bit Iíve seen it looks so gorgeous.
Lena Lamoray: Oh yes.
BD Wong: Yes and I have a very early version of it and Iím really
looking forward to watching it actually on the broadcast because I too
am very curious about it. It does look quite beautiful, I think.
Lena Lamoray: Yes, thereís nothing like it on TV.
Cherry Jones: Wow.
BD Wong: Letís hope thatís a good...
Lena Lamoray: Yes, it is. Now David Slade directed the pilot, so what
was it like working with him and some of the other directors?
BD Wong: We had some great directors. I like almost every single one, I
donít recall not liking any of them, which is kind of rare for me, I
hate to say. I - he was great, he was very helpful, actually he was, you
know, my best memory of David Slade is that he was very helpful for me
during the audition process because he was the director for the pilot
and involved in the process of coaching me before my final test. And
that was extremely helpful.
And he gave great notes, and he has a great cinematic eye and I think
one of the reasons the pilot looks so great is because thereís a lot of
interesting camera moves and interesting lighting choices. In the pilot,
kind of sad to me that we didnít ever go back to this, but there was
this, there is this dreamy kind of thing that he did, if youíll notice
in the pilot, that itís as if the clouds are covering the sun while
weíre talking in the office. Did he do this in your room, Cherry?
Cherry Jones: Maybe.
BD Wong: He dimmed the lights down and brought them back up at very
weird times during the scenes, as if the sun was peeking behind the
clouds and it was really interesting, and when you see some of these
scenes in the show, I donít think you really will notice it unless
youíre looking for it. Itís quite beautiful and very cinematic.
Cherry Jones: Yes, you know so much more about making television and
film, and if that happens in my office I wasnít aware of it. What a neat
- to bring in nature that way, to illuminate and darken the scene,
thatís really interesting. I enjoyed him immensely too, I mean heís a
very eccentric man...
BD Wong: Very quirky.
Cherry Jones: Very quirky, and I believe he told me that, you know, he
was incredibly shy as a young boy and heís a bit of a performer now.
Heís gone the other way, and heís really delightful. And you just never
know what heís going to do or say next.
BD Wong: Yes.
Cherry Jones: And, you know, coming from the theater where you have, you
know, if youíre lucky and youíre in a successful production, you have
one director, and thatís the only director youíre going to see for
months. And, or in my case with Doubt, was the only director I saw, I
had worked with in a couple of years, and yet I was, you know, on stage
every night of those couple of years.
And with this, you know, every week to have a completely different
personality come in and take the helm, it is fascinating, because you
know, and you go into the makeup trailer each day of the newest episode
and you start polling everyone and say, ďWell, what do you think?Ē and
ďWhat is their approach?Ē and you know, and the answers are always
BD Wong: Yes.
Cherry Jones: But they have been terrific, all of them.
BD Wong: They have. I was really very pleased with all of them. I
Cherry Jones: And thereís some that work incredibly quickly, and then
others, you know, that take their time. But they were, for the most part
they were always, they were all very, very gentle with us.
BD Wong: Yes, and mindful, and had done a lot of - many of them had done
a lot of research on the show and watched all the episodes. You would
think that they would have, but were very articulate about the show,
which is - gives you a real nice sense of trust when youíre working with
someone new like that, that they really know what theyíre talking about.
Cherry Jones: And then they always, you know, Jason will often have
conversations with directors, you know, about things in the script
because now heís been living this part since August, and heís - he knows
it better than anyone, so itís always fascinating to hear his
conversations with the directors about a moment.
And, you know, there are times when Jason, you know, with the permission
of the writers and the director, when weíre about to shoot something,
heíll change, again, with the consent of the writers, heíll change a
line because he realizes that itís going to make more sense in whatever
world it applies to, you know. He just knows it backwards and forwards
BD Wong: Yes, and so thatís built in to the relationship that any
director comes into this particular show with. That dynamic with Jason.
Cherry Jones: Because it is complicated.
BD Wong: It is.
Cherry Jones: I canít imagine what itís like to, you know, play two
different realities at once.
BD Wong: Yes, and in many ways...
Cherry Jones: ...and such dynamic worlds.
BD Wong: Yes, every one in some ways turns to Jason as the fulcrum to
what is really, you know, Jason will often say things like, well I canít
say this, because on the other side I said this, and this relates to
this and this is why Iím saying this. Heís the only person that knows in
some way. And thatís really interesting to see revealed.
He is extreme - Jason himself is really on top of the two realities and
what each of them, how each of them functions in the episode. And so,
weíre actually lucky that he takes such care and is so diligent about
keeping track of them.
Cherry Jones: He also plays great music in between set-ups.
Operator: We have a follow-up question from Jamie Ruby, Sci Fi Vision.
Please go ahead.
Jamie Ruby: Hello again. My phoneís going off, sorry. I was going to
ask, is there a specific like scene or moment that you can talk about
that youíre excited for the fans to see?
BD Wong: Iím not - there is, definitely, Iím not sure how to describe
any of them without giving too much away. What do you think, Cherry?
Cherry Jones: Iím sorry, I didnít quite hear the question.
Jamie Ruby: I said, is there any specific scene or moment you want -
youíre excited for the fans to see that you can talk about?
Cherry Jones: Are you talking about in the series, you know, or in the
Jamie Ruby: Either, if itís something you can talk about, thatís good.
BD Wong: I would just say that there are rare occasions when, like I
said earlier in the interview, when I am - was not sitting in the chair
for one reason or another. And I think those times are going to be
really interesting for people, for the fans of the show.
Without saying too much about that, I mean it just - I found it
interesting for me and I found I think it was a really interesting
aspect to the show. But go ahead.
Cherry Jones: And I have to say that I think what Iím looking forward to
the most, and this is not to be a tease, but the final moments of the
BD Wong: Yes. Cherry and I were both there for some of those moments as
they were shot and some of it was really exciting and really wonderful
and beautiful, as well. It had that Awake kind of beautifully shot,
beautifully lit and extremely evocative and thought-provoking and
Cherry Jones: Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh.
BD Wong: Well, yes.
Operator: Our final question is a follow up from Earl Dittman with
Wireless Magazine, please go ahead.
Earl Dittman: Hey guys, itís me again. I just wanted to say that you
know, earlier you mentioned doing M. Butterfly at twenty-two, how old
are you? Ten years old when you started? You have aged wonderfully.
BD Wong: Wow, thatís nice of you. No, Iím 51, Iím going to be 52 in
Earl Dittman: Is that what you always wanted to do, was acting?
BD Wong: Yes it was. I was a very hammy kid and was interested in music
and that segued into acting in high school and then I just could not
think of anything else. I mean I could not think about anything else, I
became so dedicated to it, and so one single-minded about it, and have
even to this day, not really loved anything more than it.
Earl Dittman: Yes. So, how tough was it leaving a show like CSI, where
you - I mean, CSI, Iím sorry, Law and Order, since you had been on it
for 11 years.
BD Wong: It was easy and hard, you know, itís hard to tear yourself away
from anything thatís so comfortable and so, itís something that was so
good to me. I mean it really was the foundation for, you know, for so
many things in my career. It was a very important job to have taken.
In my personal life, I signed that contract because my son had been
born, and I - you know my son is now 11, and so thatís how I know how
long I was on that show, is because I signed that contract because I
wanted to stay in New York and not go to L.A. while he was little.
And so personally for me there are a lot of really strong resonances to
that show, and yet at the same time as a creative person, after many
years of doing the show, I really wanted - I just craved a change, and I
craved feeling more a part of the driving thrust of a show than I had
felt with being on Law and Order.
And so I was just like I said before, I canít say it enough, just lucky
as can be to be able to make the transition that I made. My son was a
little older, I spent the time of shooting season one commuting back and
forth to L.A., and it really has been a lot of fun. Iíve really enjoyed
And so it was very easy because I really, really wanted to make, to do
something new. And it was difficult because I have very strong emotional
and personal ties to that job and that family of people that I was
Earl Dittman: Thatís wonderful. And I guess, let me ask Cherry Iím going
to ask you before I let you go. Is this what you always wanted to do? Be
one of the greatest actresses in the world?
Cherry Jones: I just never wanted to stop play-acting. I grew up in the
woods with all of my childhood friends creating all sorts of dire
situations that we had to survive, and it was, you know, to me this is -
I still shake my head and wonder that I have been allowed to do what I
love so much all of my life. I wish that for everyone. But I do know
that itís unusual, and I - no one is more surprised by my career than I.
Earl Dittman: Thatís wonderful. Well thanks both of you gentlemen again,
guys and gals, and I appreciate your time, itís been wonderful, and I
have candles lit for the show.
Cherry Jones: Earl, thank you so much.
Earl Dittman: Thanks so much.
Cherry Jones: Like all new shows on television, weíll need those
Earl Dittman: Yes, Iím doing several of them for you. Take care.
BD Wong: Thanks everybody.
Operator: And there are no further questions on the line.
BD Wong: Great.
Cherry Jones: I guess that means we hang up.
Matthew Mitchell: Actually you guys I just wanted to say thank
you everyone for joining us.
Cherry Jones: Thank you.
Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude the call for today.
We thank you for your participation and ask that you please disconnect
BD Wong: Thank you, Carlos.
Our Review of
"Awake" is an intriguing drama about a detective (Jason
Isaacs, "Harry Potter," "Brotherhood") who finds he is leading an double
life that defies reality.
Premieres, Thursday, March 1 at 10 pm on NBC
Following a tragic car accident, detective Michael Britten finds himself
awake in two separate realities: one where his teen son, Rex (Dylan
Minnette, "Saving Grace"), died in the crash and his wife, Hannah (Laura
Allen, "Terriers") survived; and another where Hannah has perished,
leaving Michael and Rex to pick up the pieces. In order to keep both of
his loved ones alive, Michael begins living in two dueling realities,
churning up confusion. In one reality, Michael and his wife debate about
having another child, while in the other his son Rex is turning to his
tennis coach, Tara (Michaela McManus, "The Vampire Diaries"), to fill
the void from the loss of his mother.
Trying to regain some normalcy, Michael returns to solving crimes in
both worlds with the help of two different partners, Detective Isaiah
"Bird" Freeman (Steve Harris, "The Practice") and Detective Efrem Vega
(Wilmer Valderrama, "That '70s Show"). Michael is assigned a different
case in each reality and quickly discovers that his dual existence is
actually a powerful tool. He begins to solve impossible cases by using
his two realties to gain unique perspectives and link clues that cross
over from world to world.
Helping Michael to navigate his two realities are his bureau-assigned
therapists Dr. Evans (Emmy Award winner Cherry Jones, "24") and Dr. Lee
(BD Wong, NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"). While both
therapists work to untangle his two worlds, Michael has no interest in
proving either one is false. But when memories of the accident begin to
haunt him, he is forced to confront the truth about what really happened
the night of the crash.
Please follow us on Facebook at
and on Twitter at @NBCAwake.
BD WONG - "Dr. Lee"
Tony Award winner BD Wong plays Dr. Lee, one of the therapists helping
Detective Michael Britten (Jason Isaacs) unravel his two worlds in NBC's
Born and raised in San Francisco, Calif., Wong is the only actor ever to
have received all five major New York Theater awards for a single role.
For his performance in "M. Butterfly," his Broadway debut, he received
the Drama Desk Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater World
Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and the Tony Award.
Wong appeared on the top-rated series "Law & Order: Special Victims
Unit" for eleven seasons where he played Dr. George Huang, a forensic
psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind.
Additionally, Wong gained notice as a cast regular on HBOís critically
acclaimed series "Oz," playing the resilient prison priest, Father Ray,
for the showís five-season run. His other television credits include a
starring role in "All-American Girl" and HBO's telefilm "And the Band
Played On," as well as guest-starring roles in "Welcome to New York,"
"Chicago Hope," "The X-Files," "Bless This House," "Shannon's Deal" and
the Hallmark miniseries, "Marco Polo."
Wong has also appeared in more than 20 feature films, including
"Jurassic Park," "The Freshman," "Father of the Bride" (1 & 2), "Seven
Years in Tibet," "Executive Decision," "The Salton Sea" and "Stay." Wong
can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films "Mulan"
and "Mulan II."
Wong's additional New York theater credits include "The Tempest," "A
Language of Their Own," "As Thousands Cheer." He gained accolades in the
Broadway musical revival of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in a
critically acclaimed performance as Linus and in the Roundabout
Theatre's production of Stephen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures," for
which he received a Drama League nomination for distinguished
performance. He produced and directed "The Yellow Wood" for NYMF and
recently appeared in "Herringbone" at The McCarter Theatre and the La
Wong resides in New York City.
Cherry Jones - "Dr. Evans"
Cherry Jones stars as Dr. Evans, one of Michael's (Jason Isaacs)
therapists who insists she is not a part of his dreams, on NBC's
groundbreaking new mystery drama "Awake."
Jones, a Tony Award-winning actress is perhaps best known for her
recurring role as President Allison Taylor on the hit program "24," for
which she won an Emmy Award in 2009.
Her film credits include "Ocean's Twelve," "The Village," "Signs,"
"Swimmers," "Cradle Will Rock," "Erin Brockovich," "The Horse
Whisperer," "Amelia," "The Perfect Storm" and "Divine Sisters of the
Ya-Ya Sisterhood." Jones has also been seen on "The West Wing," and
starred in the Lifetime movie "What Makes a Family."
Among Jones' many Broadway credits are "Doubt" (Tony Award), "Faith
Healer," the Lincoln Center Theater production of "The Heiress" (Tony
Award), "Imaginary Friends," "A Moon for the Misbegotten," "Our
Country's Good," "Angels in America" "The Night of the Iguana," "Major
Barbara" and most recently "Mrs. Warren's Profession." Off-Broadway and
regional credits include "Flesh and Blood," "Pride's Crossing," "The
Baltimore Waltz" (Obie Award), "The Good Person of Setzuan" and
twenty-five productions as a company member of the American Repertory
Theater, including "Twelfth Night," "The Three Sisters" and "The
Caucasian Chalk Circle."
Jones is a native of Paris, Tenn., a graduate of Carnegie Mellon
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