Tony Shalhoub, Paris, USA discussed on Bullseye
It's balls. I'm Jesse thorn. The stereotype goes usually that there are character actors and stars a character actor can show up in a couple of scenes, maybe even five minutes, and in that one moment on screen, they make the film. That's the kind of thing that my guest Tony shalhoub can do. Well, a star. Of course, you build the whole movie around our TV show their relatable, usually charming and kind of vulnerable, and my guess Tony shalhoub can do that too. He's a veteran of both the big and small screens. He's had unforgettable parts in movies like Barton Fink men in black quick change. He starred in movies like big night TV shows like wings. And of course, they hit detective series muck. These days he's a regular on the Amazon show. The marvelous MRs Mazel, it's a drama set in the late nineteen fifties. Rachel Brosnahan plays the title character midge Mazel when the series starts out midge is a house. Wife living in Manhattan who puts her old life behind her to take up stand up comedy. She splits with her husband takes kids and moves back in with their parents. And in fits and starts her stand up career takes off my guest, Tony shalhoub. Plays a voice, man. Midges dad a role that's gotten Tony a handful of awards, including an EMMY nomination. The show's second season just launch in it midge is still living with her family. Her mother rose has moved out of the apartment. She fled to Paris. And it I it hasn't really sunk in for a after all rose has a big party coming up back home. But in this scene, we're about to hear it finally dawns on him. Are you kidding? Me. Mama moved to parent. What veteran? What you just said what you just told me. The mama told you she was moving to parent. I never said that I don't feel like I have a life peer everyone in everything that I've ever counted on has let me down, and you said, okay. No. I should lamb was. Okay. And it was brief. Honestly Papa John. Listen, not true. You don't listen to anyone don't feel like I have a lifestyle repeating that. All right. I'll admit that. Sometimes I tune people, but mostly because they rarely have anything useful or interesting to say. What? Emptied her perfume is gone. Wishes things. And guessing Paris. What was she going to wear to the party tonight notice this you sleep right there? Live here to you didn't notice either her husband in her closet way, more than I am. Tony shalhoub. Welcome to bullseye. It's great. Have you on the show? Thank you. Nice to be here. I saw you wince at your character saying he doesn't listen to other people mostly because they don't have anything interesting. That sounds a little Larry Ghent, I suppose. I mean, one of the funny things about your character on this show is. I think the show is not about your character. Your character is a secondary character show character shell right and. In a lot of shows like this, especially funny ones, which is very funny. It would be fine to let the protagonist have the journey. Right. Like the protagonist gets to go on a journey. Everybody else has a funny thing about them that the audience recognize support that protagonists arc I suppose in your character has changed a lot in two seasons of the show. Yeah, it's a very it's rare for for series, very character in series television. Really? Because as you say normally, you're you know, you get hired. And then you're kind of somewhat limited to what you're being called on to to do. What purpose you serve in for actors that can be frustrating at times because you you're the guy that does this or you're the sort of stupid guy, or you're know, the lethargic or whatever it is. And you get kind of confined. Constrained into playing two colors three if you're very lucky, and I been fortunate in in this case to you that they're they're just. My character happens to be in place in his life where he's in is in transition like the, and I think it's because of of the transition that midges in my daughter is going through all her changes are impacting all of the people around her in. We're not just when we're not just stuck in our in our little mode. I was watching the first episode of the second season earlier today where you and your daughter travelled to Paris, and you're wearing an overcoat a Brown overcoat with a blue check that. If they had just showed me that overcoat. I'd be like, yeah. Okay. How many years is the contract for? Guess I get to wear that overcoat. Yes. Salt. Yeah. And that that speaks to this whole idea that know this like I love this idea that we're in we're in the fifth late fifties. I just I guess the forties and the fifties have always been a really good those good decades for me in terms of playing characters and especially today because I think we all need as viewers, and as certainly factors respite from present day craziness. And what this the other thing that this affords us is this, you know, there are no cell phones in this show there. No computers. Computers are the size of this room. You know, there's no. We're low tech were super low tech. And I just find that. So refreshing. I'm Jesse thorn. You're listening to Balzac I'm here with the actor Tony shalhoub. You were the star of monk for many seasons. This won't be news to you. I Saturday's though. Sounds familiar. Yeah. Which was detective procedural on USA comic detective procedural in which your character was the brilliant genius. Detective who in part his genius detecting was colored by his obsessive compulsive Ness. And I really think it is one of the best of this kind of show that has ever been made. It is so hard to make a show like this. That is pleasant to so many people that also is sharp and specific and so on and so forth. You know what I mean? Like, it's sort of defined what the USA network evens to some extent still is today. But like it's about an incredible specificity and especially in your performance. Thank you. And I wonder what it was when it came to you. You and how it came to you? To pilot had been at it was I at ABC for a number of years, and was kind of languishing there, you with a lot of these things, you know, you all has to kind of fit together you have to have the right person in the right at the right time and. That was just. Just not getting any traction. And then he an executive. Was departing ABC and going over to USA and asked to take this property and see if they could develop it and that was fine. And then and then I believe it was at ABC. I mean, I'm sure I believe it was at USA for a year. Before it came to me. Number of people had they had approached a number of different actors at both networks some accurate approach them. And it just it just never would I even think Michael Richards. I heard was circling it for a while or they were circling in in. I you know, I just it was just fortunate. My manager at the time. I was reading the pilot for another client of hers. She was actually reading it for the character of Sharona this system, and then she was reading it. She thought of me, and so it to me. I had never heard of it. I didn't know anything about it. In and I met with the network and the writers and we were off to the races. And we had to I was the first one attached. So they asked me I mentioned that I would like to be involved as a producer too. So I could have some input voice. And so they asked me to read with people audition. Moore auditioning people for two Ronin startled Meyer, and all the other regulars. In which I was happy to do. That's how we put it all together. What did you think about it? When you I thought. Well, when I first read it, I didn't really respond to it. Because I didn't I thought it was good. But I didn't see my way into it. And I called my manager. And I said that I should look I I I get what you're I don't. I don't get how how's this me? And she. He's very subtle. And she said, you better read it you should read it again because this is more you probably want to admit. And so I did. And I read it a second time and. It to become clear. And in the script that I read the pilot script, and I remember there's a long time ago. Okay. But the script that I read was. It wasn't really the pilot that we wasn't exactly the pilot. We shot. It was written more. It was broader. It was I think it originally was conceived morals like almost like inspector clue. So ish thing except with OCD. It was broader comedy, you know, in that was the part that I felt was was was not a good fit for me. And. Why spoke to my manager about this? And then she said, well, you should sit to sit down you can sit down with the writers and express this and tell them what it is about it that works for you. And how you would like to have them change it. And maybe they will. And and that's exactly what I did. And they were fantastic they were open. And and I said, look, I love comedy. But I think we should maybe tone down the really really broad stuff and let the comedy come out of the guys pain and out of the guys problem. In. And also you have to remember we're talking about a time when we did this right after nine eleven notch not long after nine eleven. So culturally, I think we entered a new level we were entering an age of anxiety of hirings -iety, which this character. I don't I mean, certainly the show the script and the and the idea was conceived before nine eleven is I said it laid around for years, but. Came came time to actually put it on do it and put it on the air people were, you know, I think feeling is they we're we're all in a bit of a state of. What now? How fragile is it all? And so we enter we kind of enter the mindset of this character how he's been living his entire life really until he met his wife and got better. And then she died, and then it got worse. So, but then we were entering also at the same time. We were we knew that we were on a slippery slope because we're dealing with OCD, which is very real and tragic kind of debilitating disorder. And so you don't want to send that up too much you want to honor the people who have it. So we had to we we were kind of like holding our breath that it was going to be received by that. Those people are know that community. In the right way. And do it in do it in a way that. We want what we were trying to do really was to sort of distinct metabolize the disorder because the character had so many good qualities and was so talented in so many ways and could make all these gigantic contributions to society. But it, but maybe just getting out the door. Taking fifteen minutes was would be funny. You know? But we did we I think the writers did a really good job and the whole creative team. Because in capturing the town, we found that sweet spot, and we got a lot of very positive feedback from people who suffered from the disorder or people who had family members who did or even doctors get letters from psychiatrists and psychologists and people say, you know, have referenced your your show in our book in my book that I'm writing about. Mental illness. Oh my God. It was it went way beyond what we intended. Yeah. I mean, I think that the challenge the fact that the the challenge that the character faces is what leads to the resolution and met the the challenge and the pain inherent in the challenges. Real makes the hopefulness of it which is fundamental to this kind of TV is that like part of what you're offering is that the problem will be resolved. So it's comforting in that way. And so the fact that you know, that you will get that comfort. But that you will get it from something that actually feels like it might mirror pain that you might have or fear that you might have exactly because we all I think we all do many many people do to a degree. We have these kinds of. Obsessive compulsive tendencies. But but or we just get fixated on things or. But many of us have ways of dealing with it in coping with it and filtering it. So that it's not as hot as to the rest of the world. And we don't voice or demonstrate these kinds of things were among and have that filter. He just says it and does it and feels it and and demonstrates even more from the great Tony shalhoub when we come back from a quick break still to come. He'll tell me where and why it gets the drive to make art. It's bullseye for maximum dot org..