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Q) So tell me about Dougís relationship with his dad. This weekendís episode kind of hits a critical point I guess; you guys get in a big old heated argument. Tell me where all thatís coming from and whatís going to come after.
A) Yes, so this week the show really takes an interesting turn for Douglas. Whatís going to happen in this episode is the audience is going to see where his angst and anger comes from. And a lot of it and what youíll see play out in the episode is exactly what youíre saying. The kind of anger he feels towards his dad which is borne out of growing up as a young man watching the infidelity - the rampant infidelity that went all around and his fatherís just dishonesty all towards Elaine. And when Elaine fell to the ground and when Elaine fell to pieces, Douglas was the one that picked her up time and time again. And when she was publicly embarrassed, Douglas was the one that was there for her. And, you know, he really feels like his father, you know, is responsible for tearing the family apart. And, you know, kind of tarnishing his mother who he holds in such high esteem.
Q) Douglas has a realization sort of about the last campaign but just that - and you guys come to a sort of agreement on that. But does that smooth over the whole infidelity thing, like the personal side of it or is that going to play out throughout?
A) Itís such a good question. I mean Douglas loves his dad. You know I love but, you know, and thatís 100%. You know thereís like a thin line between love and hate, you know, that you always hear that phrase and thatís exactly what Douglas feels for his dad. And then, you know, combined with that is his anguish for his fatherís infidelity. And so it does comes come to him in this episode. We have a big - you know, it kind of all comes to a point and we get into a big screaming match and itís while weíre away fishing on this kind of fishing trip, all these memories start trickling back to Douglas because weíre kind of jumping back into a campaign. And thatís when the last time his father really let the family down in a big way in Douglasí mind is when his dad kind of went AWOL during Elaineís last campaign. So all these memories start rushing back to him and he just kind of canít take it anymore and the pop tops off which Iím so excited for audiences to see because this kind of perfect, pristine guy is really going to crack in this next episode.
Q) Doug makes the leak and then has second thoughts about it but it looks like youíre sort of over the barrel a little bit. For the future is that going to - will you have to be pumping information or leaking information throughout the rest of the season?
A) Itís the web we weave. Man, it gets - yeah, it gets bad; it gets bad for Doug. He kind of - he is totally over the barrel and I think itís going to be really interesting for audiences to watch him try and navigate the murky waters heís put himself in.
Q) Can you talk about how you became involved in the show?
A) Gregís script for Political Animals it was a really hot script around town and it was one that was talked about. And, you know, weíre just as excited for the series as I think the kind of community out here was when this script was circulating. So when the script came to me to read, you know, I had access to the script. And I had a meeting with Greg and, you know, he kind of talked about where this is going and I expressed what I thought about the character, and I was just so enthused. And I remember leaving the meeting and just going I hope he feels as excited about this opportunity as I feel. And it happened to work out thankfully and, you know, that was kind of the start of my role in Political Animals. And at that point nobody had been cast either. It was really early in the process when I came to the project. But it just jumped out at me. And I love playing characters that seem like they should be perfect on the outside but are just totally screwed up when you kind of pull that veil away.
Q) Can you talk a bit about working with Sigourney Weaver?
A) Sigourney - sheís wonderful. You know sheís a consummate professional. Sheís an amazing actress. And kind of what you see and what you think she will be as a person, she lives up to that and more. And itís a real treat to work with her. You know, you learn a lot from her both behind and in front of the camera of just how to kind of carry yourself on a set. And itís a joy, you know. Itís like being a young tennis player and being able to play tennis and volley with the pros. And she is a total pro and itís a real joy to work with her.
Q) Do you think itís possible for a politician at such a high level to be a good parent, or is it in the nature of their work to be prone to be self indulgent and selfish?
A) You know thatís a really good question. The first thing I think of when I think of a politician being a parent is Obama, because heís constantly, you know, talking about his two daughters and constantly talking about his family. And so you really do get the idea that he puts family first. And I want to believe that and I think thatís true of him. What I would imagine and what Iíve learning from playing a neglected son in a political family is that I think there is a lot on the plate of these politicians. And I think that whether itís, you know - whether itís a self-centered thing or whether itís just that hey, this is my profession and it requires so much of my energy, I do think it would be very easy for the children of those politicians to get sidelined unless they were truly made a priority. And Iíd like to think that some politicians can do that. But with out show thereís this great dynamic between Douglas and Elaine where she loves him but she does just kind of expect him to kind of be okay with being pushed to the side because she has so much on her plate. And it kind of really screws his act and it makes him a total head case which is awesome.
Q) And do you think the media crosses the line when it comes to the families of public figures, whether itís photographing the children of celebrities or in the case of your TV brother T.J., reporting his suicide attempt, or do you think its par for the course?
A) You know I think itís crossing the line. I think that, you know, thatís the unfortunate part of being in the public eye is that in this day and age with all the social media we have and the easy access to just posting things on line and taking pictures with your phone, thereís really no privacy any more. And I think that people who are in that public eye, whether it be a politician or some other person in the celebrity life, you kind of have to realize that thatís going to come with the job. Itís unfortunate but thatís the world we live in I think.
Q) What challenges you about playing Douglas?
A) I think the challenge - thatís a really good question. I think the greatest challenge playing Douglas is when I first read the script and I saw the character, my only concern was that he was going to be the straight man and that, you know, what can we pull out of him; where can we find conflict in him to make him an interesting character? And I think that as the scripts have gone on and this series has been written, the challenge I think has become almost like a group effort with the writers as well as myself making him very layered and dimensional. But initially I thought, well how do you take someone who seems very perfect, because in the pilot episode he does and kind of, you know, tear him down. And that has been a challenge that Iíve enjoyed rising to because itís so fun to find the duplicity in Douglas and the kind of screwed up dark nature that he has deep within. But it was a challenge to find it.
Q) Well you have a great relationship on the show with your brother. Can you talk about the dynamic the two of you have?
A) Yes, Douglas and T.J. are kind of the only people in each otherís lives who they fully trust and who they can always count on. And so itís been a blast to play that out with Sebastian Stan whoís playing T.J., to kind of find that brother relationship. You know theyíre twins, and so they really - they feel responsible for each other and I think the feel like either one could have gone either way. You know like had one been born before the other or, you know, the - you know, I think they feel like responsible - entirely responsible for each other. And so that will play out really interestingly in the limited series that weíll see initially here. And itís been a joy to play that, you know. They are each otherís rock and they are there for each other through thick and thin. They both go through some really bad shit, so itís fun to see them there for each other.
Q) And the show has gotten such great reviews and a lot of fan attention already. What is it you think about the show that really attracts people and makes it such a favorite?
A) You know I think quite frankly itís we have such - politicians are such a celebrity in our culture now. You know itís kind of one in the same, they go along with each other. And when we watch the news and we watch our President and our senators and, you know, candidates running, they become these celebrities. And then they step away from the camera and they step away from where weíre able to see them very clearly, and you donít know what goes on behind closed doors, you know, unless of course, you know, leaks happen or what have you. But the point is that with this show, weíre pulling the veil back on this former first family and weíre going - you know, weíre stepping inside where you usually donít get to follow them and youíre seeing how these pristine people really do have flaws and really do struggle. And I think itís really putting the magnifying glass on a portion of it that we donít get to see in real life but, that we imagine in our heads and that weíre curious about finding out. And I think thatís what so fun about watching this family.
Q) So, your relationship with Anne- or I should say your characterís relationship with Anne is really interesting to me when I compare it to what I see your relationship to the rest of the family. Can you talk a little bit about the dynamic of the differences between those two sets of relationships?
A) Yes, you know, that is very right on; that is very right on. And that is - I think what Douglas has with Anne is very outside of what he has with his family. And I think that is what he is so attracted to in Anne is that, you know, his family is this very tumultuous group of people and thereís so much turmoil within the family. And they love each other and, you know, they care about each other but itís a very tough dynamic within the Hammond family. And I think that just comes from being inside that fishbowl; from being inside that pressure cooker. And when he steps into a room with Anne and when heís alone with Anne, itís a real escape for him. And itís an ability for him to extract himself from this fishbowl that heís grown up in and kind of relax and kind of put his inhibitions away and just be and be present. And thatís what he enjoys about being with Anne.
Q) Do you think heís going to find out a little bit more about her back story? I mean I know weíve seen her suffer with her own eating disorders. Is that going to play into how open they are with each other?
A) Well whatís going to happen -- I can say this -- is that relationship is going to grow and itís going to evolve. And there are certain things that happen in the series. They find out about sides of each other they didnít quite know existed before, and I think itís going to be really interesting to see how they deal with that. And, you know, how Anne, you know, deals with Douglas when he tells her that his mom is running again and that, you know, he may be a part of this. And, you know, when Anne came into the picture she was kind of Douglasí escape from what he does. But Douglas kind of gets sucked back into this political world and itís really interesting -- Brittany does an amazing job of playing this -- about how Anne deals with that and how she deals with Douglas kind of turning the tides of the ship back towards his political ambitions. And I think Doug has also learned a lot about Anne in this series and I think it will be really wonderful to watch that unfold.
Q) Before taking on the role did you do any research or, you know, watch any political stuff, for lack of a better word?
A) Right away I went out and I bought Bobby Kennedyís biography. And I read his biography because Bobby Kennedy was his brotherís Chief of Staff, and he was a very kind of dark character.I mean we see pictures of Bobby and heís this very kind of all-American kind of, you know, affable fellow. But what you find out about him is that he was the family bulldog, you know, he really was the runt of the family so it kind of turned him into this just ambitious kind of ruthless guy. And I thought well how interesting would it be if thatís what Douglas had, you know, if thatís where Douglas came from. And I really read it and I really wanted to take Douglas in that direction and it was something that Greg felt when he created the character as well. So I immediately went out and bought the biography and it was really helpful in creating the character.
Q) And is there anything youíve learned since you started filming this; whether from an acting standpoint or just in general about yourself?
A) Thatís a good question - what have I learned. You know Iíd say from - Iíd say Iíve had to go to some really dark places to play Douglas and thatís not always easy to do. But itís been a wonderful stretch as an actor to go to these really dark places and these unlikable places and itís been a real great exercise and experience doing that.
Q) You talked a little bit about Doug and T.J.ís relationship, but I was wondering is there a point where Doug will just get completely tired of T.J.? Do you think he could ever reach that point of T.J.ís antics and screw-upís?
A) Yes, you know, I so badly want him to get sick of T.J.ís antics. Like I actually read it and Iím like come on man, canít you, you know, say no to T.J., but he canít. And heís so - he puts T.J. in his place and youíll see that. They come to a head just as, I think, some of the scenes youíve seen between Bud and Douglas. But I think once itís all said and done it just really goes back to that twin thing which is so heartbreaking to see because he just doesnít have the willpower to completely dismiss his brother. I think he feels so connected to him. And so thatís an interesting one to navigate. Heís a really good co-dependent; Douglas. Heís terrible in that way.
Q) Do you and Sebastian, have you guys sort of bonded and talked about how to play this the way - because it really seems very natural and everything, so I find that interesting.
A) Thank you. You know we have - the funny thing is -- and I can say this candidly -- is that we have really; him and I did very little discussion about how to play these characters. But one thing that happened that was really interesting was right when we got down to Philadelphia to shoot the series we ran into each other in the street. He was moving into his place; I was moving into my place, and we had never met before. And we immediately - we were just truly like hey, whatís going on. We really bonded and that stayed through the whole series. There was a really great comfort factor between him and I. And I think that we both knew that was there. We didnít talk about it, and we just built on that. We were like okay, this is a great starting place for a brotherhood. And itís been really fun to play with him. Heís a great actor and a great guy.
Q) Doug seems very calm, cool, collected, and the perfect guy on the surface and obviously thatís not the case. But who do you think is actually more messed up, Doug or T.J.?
A) I think that Douglas is more messed up because I think heís keeping it all down below. And if you ask T.J. he would probably say that he thinks T.J. is more messed up. But I think Douglas has some real - some real shit going on with him. I think he needs to get a psychiatrist fast, but unfortunately he wonít and it kind of all comes out.
Q) And how do you think he sort of cultivated his sort of hero complex that he has where he wants to take care of everybody and everything?
A) It started with his fatherís infidelity. I think it started with just growing up, and I think two things played into it. I think it was his fatherís infidelity and having to take care of his mom, and I think it was T.J. being the squeaky wheel of the two and him kind of being sidelined by that; so not getting the attention he wanted from his parents. And I think itís, you know, itís always - and I donít just want to make it a mommy and daddy problem that heís dealing with here, but itís borne out of that. I mean heís such - he cares so much about his family that itís borne out of that. But then it grows and thatís just like the seed for it. And I think when the audience meets him in this series he has a total hero complex that gets the best of him quite frankly.
Q) When you saw the cast on paper; when you realized who you were going to be working with, was it like all your Christmases had come at once?
A) Yes, it really was. Itís such a great cast. I was really, really happy. These guys are awesome and they do everything from film to theater to TV and theyíre just real actors. So I couldnít believe it had all come together in such a great way.
Q) And do you think that youíll ever have any desire to run for office in your lifetime?
A) You know I donít think so. I have a lot of respect for the role of someone in office and I think itís amazing when people come in to that place with true ambitions of helping people and changing the world for a better place. But I donít think that I will run for office. No, I donít think so.
Q) The show is just is a six part miniseries thatís airing this summer but I already want to keep going with these characters. Has there been any talk of extending it past this run?
A) You are so kind. It has not been asked yet. You know we are all open to the possibility of it extending. And, you know, it was such a joy to make this miniseries, and I mean that in its truest sense and Iím so happy that you feel that way as well in watching it. And I think that weíre all excited for that possibility and hope, you know, that we do get the chance to unravel this world even more.
Q) So talking about if you would get, you know, another season or whatever, if it was up to you and you were writing it, what would you like to see happen to Douglas if it could be anything?
A) You know if it was up to me, we have such great writers; we really do. One of them in fact wrote a play that I starred in with him just this year. And so we have these guys that come from theater; they come from everywhere you could possibly want -- film, TV -- and they are writing the hell out of these characters. I really couldnít imagine bringing anything more to them than theyíve created and I mean that. I mean they blow me away every week. When we get these scripts itís like opening up a Christmas present. And you open it up and you canít wait to see whatís happening with your character and where itís going and some stuff that shocks you happens. In last week's episode I remember Ellen Burstyn running up to me with the script in her hand and going, ďI canít believe it; I canít believe what you did.Ē And we really like just have - well we just canít wait to get these scripts. And so Iíll just go where the writers take me.
Q) You know a lot of actors - George Clooney, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck - are really vocal when it comes to politics. And, you know, they kind of get ragged on it sometimes because people donít feel like actors and politicians should mix. Do you feel like being on a show like this gives like pressure for you to have an opinion in the upcoming election year? And how do you feel about that?
A) Well I think first and foremost that for those actors that do really have a voice in politics, I think that, you know, at a certain point you have the bully pulpit. You have the ability to speak because youíre in a place with you in the public eye. And I think if you have something intelligent to say and youíre passionate about what you feel, then by all means I think itís okay to speak. So - but I donít think that there should be a responsibility that necessarily comes with being in the public eye of having to speak about politics. And so for me personally, you know, Iím educated in politics; I follow it. I wouldnít say by any means that Iím a political junkie. But I just feel like in this upcoming election, whether or not I was on this show I would definitely have an opinion either way. And I might not necessarily share it though because Iím on the show.
Q) Have you ever seen Greg's work on the show "Jack and Bobby;" the one that he did about two brothers?
A) Yes. You know I have to be honest, I have seen it. I wasnít - I didnít follow it regularly but I had seen it. This was a couple of years back. Yes, I am familiar with it.
Q) I realized that I didnít know that you guys are twins. And that really creates an interesting dynamic, and you guys went as a family, you guys went through the fatherís infidelity together, but you came out so differently.
A) Iím three minutes younger than TJ.
Q) But why do you think you had such a different - you feel more responsible for the family or why do you think youíre so - in two different, I mean, extremes?
A) Well I think that T.J. and Douglas, they are as you see them in the show, totally different. And yet as youíll see as the show progresses, there is actually a line where Douglas says to T.J., you know, weíre not that different, you and I. Because the truth of the matter is that Douglas, his perfect, you know, pristine exterior starts to crack and he really does become unraveled as the show goes on. But I think that each of them found themselves in these two positions - Douglas as the caretaker of the family; T.J. kind of as a drug user. And I think that they both came from places of hurt and places of being frightened and it just manifested in different ways. And one of them said okay, Iím going to fix this, and the other guy said Iím going to - I donít want to speak for T.J., but maybe he said Iím going to fix it or Iím going to find a way to deal with it and they just went in different directions with it as you can see.
Q) Because you have a very unfaithful father, do you think you picked Anne because she has this very kind of submissive, womenís role model type culture; a woman so that you can control her?
A) I think as youíll see in the show that they actually a very equal partnership. No one is walking in front or behind, theyíre walking kind of together side by side. And he actually looks to her for strength and they are each otherís kind of rock in the show. And she really becomes a friend in a big way.
Q) So I hear that you get to show us some of your DJ moves from your days in Michigan in an upcoming episode.
A) I just spoke about that this morning. Yes, that is true. I canít tell you what happens though, but coming down the line, I think Douglas has a drink or two and he lets his guard down and that comes out. Yes.
Q) Now the last time we saw him let his guard down, he sort of slept through his dadís appearance in the last campaign. Is something bad going to happen?
A) I would just say stay tuned.
Q) And was it fun to get to do your DJ stuff?
A) Oh yes, it was fun and embarrassing. I think I had a flashback to like the late 90s and it was definitely fun.
Q) So you were talking a little bit a earlier about the relationship you have between you and T.J. as it opposed your relationship with your parents. Can you talk a little bit about why your relationship is different that T.J.ís with your grandmother?
A) I think Margaret, the character being played by Ellen Burstyn, I think she has a quiet strength in her. And she herself is kind of always looking over the family and taking care of the family. And little does everyone - does anyone know, that Douglas probably needs a lot of caretaking, but it seems like he can take care of himself. So I think that Margaret really reaches across the table to T.J., because she sees the anxiety and the fear in him. And I think that she came from a life, you know, she was a dancer -- a go-go dancer in Vegas; Margaret -- and I think sheís been around a lot of alcoholics. Sheís been around a lot of addicts. And so she really reaches across the table to take care of T.J. as best as she can. And I think that Douglasí job and his role in family as the strength and as the caretaker kind of, you know, doesnít make him, you know, an easy person to take care of. You know, he kind of pushes that away a little bit and I think thatís why youíre seeing a difference between those two relationships.