Sunday, July 25, 2010

Interview with 24 stars Gregory Itzin and Jean Smart (President Logan and Martha Logan) - October 18th, 2006

Promoting: 24, season 5
Venue: Covent Garden Hotel
Interview type: One-on-one (well, one-on-two)

ViewLondon: First of all, congratulations on the show. Are you both on board for season six?

Gregory Itzin (GI): We’re not allowed to say! Here’s what we say because we’ve said it before. We’ve been told we are…and there you go.

Jean Smart (JS): Apparently almost two years will have taken place between Day 5 and Day 6, so they’re going to fit us in where they can.

VL: And is the movie going to be after Season 6 or before Season 6?

GI: They’re writing it now and that’s all they’ll tell us. There are no guarantees, or rather there’s only one guarantee and we know who that is. And we don’t know what it’s about or anything else. I even know the people who are writing it and they just don’t even talk about it.

VL: That must be very frustrating. Is it?

JS: I never assumed that I’d have anything to do with the movie, so it’s not frustrating to me at all!

GI: Everyone says ‘Oh, you’re going to be in the movie’, I say no. No assumptions are made on this show.

JS: I don’t think anybody who’s on the show is assuming they’re going to be in the movie.

GI: But the fact that we’re alive, it’s good.

JS: We’re still breathing.

VL: One of the great things about 24 is its propensity for killing off its main characters. Were you scared you weren’t going to make it to the end?

GI: Not scared. I thought it could happen. I’ll tell you honestly - business-wise, I knew if they did, they’d still pay me till the end of the season so it wasn’t that big a deal. And I figured if they did, they’d find a way to do it that was interesting but basically I knew they couldn’t kill two Presidents in one day. I thought that would be a bit much.

JS: Right. And a First Lady.

GI: Well, I didn’t know that you would go. I thought you’d be the one that would kill me.

JS: Yeah, we thought he’d kill me or I’d kill him or we’d kill each other or something but I said, you know, if she goes, I just want it to be in an interesting way. Heroic or taking a lot of people with her or something.

GI: You got to kill somebody!

JS: I did. My son was very impressed with that. Although he thought I was too upset. He said why were you so upset when you shot that day?

GI: Because she’s not Jack Bauer, that’s why.

VL: How far in advance do you get the scripts?

GI: A week or two. But if you’re going to die, they bring you in and talk to you.

JS: They give you a little courtesy call if you’re going to die.

VL: Gregory, what was your reaction to finding out Logan was behind everything?

GI: At first I was very, ‘What? What? No! Wait! Stop!’ because while I realised that they and I together were creating a character who was indecisive and ill-equipped for the job, let’s face it, ultimately, I always thought of him as – in his own head he’s a hero. And even afterwards he was. But when I first heard that he was, or might have been or whatever – you see, even now, I’m resisting it – the prime mover behind David Palmer’s death, even if it wasn’t intentional, I said I can’t, no, wait, stop. But ultimately I trusted them, because they have a hit show and they know what they’re doing. And interestingly enough, once he did this, he became more popular, people liked him more. And I think, simply, it’s because he finally became decisive and people like their villains to be clear-cut or something like that. But at first I said no, I don’t like this and I had to step back out of it, go back and look at some episodes, right around episode 6,7 and 8, when I’m reacting to Cummings and saying, ‘You’re a traitor’ and all of that, I mean, when I acted that stuff I didn’t know all that other stuff was coming, so when I acted that stuff it’s really honest and it’s really coming from a real place and then I started to think, well, this becomes even more interesting now, because he’s such a good actor in these moments and he’s using his anger at Cummings for being caught. So then it became quite appropriate and I could walk back into the character and go, okay. But at first, I was not very happy at all.

VL: Are we going to see more of Martha and Agent Aaron Pierce?

JS: Everybody’s asked me that, they all ask me why he didn’t kiss her. You know, her husband tried to kill her and this guy saved her life – it tends to colour the way a woman looks at a guy.

VL: Did you play it like she was attracted to him?

JS: They told me that they might sort of go in that direction and I wasn’t sure at first. But it was very sweet, the way they handled it, because he was the kind of person who would never step beyond what he considered his duty and his proper position. They actually cut a scene though that he and I were very upset about. There was a scene where he said something which let her know how he felt, which was quite shocking to her. And they cut that. So then the scene they left in, where he comes to my room and I thank him for saving my life and hold his hand and everything, that came out of what he’d said to me but now it looked like I was sexually harassing the staff! I thought Oh my God, this is terrible! But it was okay, people didn’t seem to mind.

VL: Had you watched the show before you were cast?

GI: I had sampled it a couple of times because there was a big to-do about the show, so I watched it a couple of times, but it was appointment TV and you had to watch from the beginning, so I didn’t. But when they hired me, I said, could I please have the DVDs for what’s happened up to now and then I got it.

JS: I had not seen the show so they sent me season 4 and I just was blown away by it. And my son and I sat and watched it in a couple of days and my husband got on board very soon after and we became a house of junkies for this show.

VL: Do you have a favourite moment from this season?

GI: The scene in the last episode when she and I are in the hangar.

JS: I agree, the finale between Greg and I. But also my first scene, the introduction to Martha where she dumps her head in the sink. It spoke volumes about her impulsive nature and it’s one of my favourite introductions to any character I’ve ever played.

VL: What’s the atmosphere like on set, when you’re shooting?

GI: It’s amazing. The cast is obviously tremendous and honest. The work is the kind of work I like to do, when people work right. They do their homework, they come in, they engage you moment to moment, there’s no line that isn’t owned and committed to, that’s fantastic. The directors are very supportive and not directorial. The crew are the best crew I’ve ever worked with. They’re so respectful and – I hate to say this because, you know, but it’s not a cliché because it doesn’t exist on every set, but there’s a lot of love on the set. And everybody’s very proud of the work.

VL: Is Kiefer around when you’re shooting your scenes, given his executive producer position?

GI: Only when you’re on the phone with him. But I remember, on season 4, he set the tone on this from the very first season. If you’re doing a phone scene – and there are so many phone scenes on 24 – you get called in and you sit on the set while they’re talking to you on the phone. You sit in the corner and actually have a conversation with them. And that’s very rare.

VL: One more question, a slightly delicate one. There’s a moment towards the end of the series where your love scene appears to only last the length of the commercial break…

JS: The Presidential quickie? I had a huge concern about that. I said I did not want this to be like a joke on the internet or something. And they said no, no, we fudge the times on things a lot.

GI: It’s one of the few times where they weren’t quite on the up and up. There was more to the scene than ended up on the screen. That episode ran 17 minutes long and they had to lose things to fit it all in. There was a whole bunch of stuff that was left on the cutting room floor.

JS: But yeah, it was a concern. I said, you know, they’ve been married for 20 years, they know exactly what they’re doing. When you’re married that long, you know, it’s possible! It isn’t probable, but it’s possible.

GI: I had a helicopter to catch! But no, it was slightly embarrassing, but I can handle it, I’m an actor.

Note: This is a much longer version than first appeared on ViewLondon, but there's also quite a bit more that I didn't transcribe in the first place, including some stuff about Edgar (Deadgar) and Tony and some stuff about the limosine scene. If enough people want me to transcribe it, I'll dig out the tape and do the rest.

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At 8:27 AM , Blogger roselafleur said...

Awesome interview. I loved those two on 24. Would love to read the full transcript if possible.


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