I got the chance to talk to Fred Weller from In Plain Sight that debuted at 5.3 million viewers this past Sunday night on USA. Those are huge numbers!!!! Congrats Fred! In Plain Sight was the most-watched series premiere on USA since The 4400in ’04.
Here’s the interview:
Nads: Hey Fred! Thanks for taking the time to take this call! I know that In Plain Sight is a drama, but I found when I watched last week, it’s actually kind of funny. Was it pitched as a dramity?
Fred:: I think it’s an extremely funny show. It’s created by David Maples, who use to be one of the head writers on Home Improvement. And he’s just a very clever and very funny guy and I think that he is able to find humor in every situation. There are some episodes that are a little bit more funny than others, or rather a little more light-hearted in tone in general, the plot and so forth, but overall I think you’d call it a dramity in the USA vein. That’s USA network, not the country.
Nads: You and Mary McCormack have a lot of sexual tension on screen, is that how it is off-screen or what’s your relationship like?
Fred: Well, it’s critical to the character. For me the romantic tension between them is one of the escape from Gilligan’s Island elements to the show. That’s not to say that there won’t be any payoff on it, I feel there actually is some payoff here and there in the first season. Mary McCormack doesn’t acknowledge the extent to which her character reciprocates those feelings. There’s definitely at least one episode in which her character gets a little jealous of one of Marshall’s love interests, which to me is pretty telling.
In terms of our relationship, I think our relationship off screen is informative of our relationship on screen in that we get along very well in a kind of brother/sister trash talk way. And I think she’s an extremely attractive woman, obviously, so it’s easier to imagine being in love with her because her character is very desirable, as is the actress. I think she’s a very attractive, very intelligent person.
Nads: How is it playing an agent in the witness protection program? And how do you go about studying for that role?
Fred: Well, I had read a couple of books prior to shooting, but they really weren’t nearly as helpful as talking to our technical advisor, who actually was the head of the witness protection program. And he also took me out to shoot guns and just was there on the set available all the time and so Mary and I picked his brains.
And at one point another marshal was helicoptered in, someone who’s not retired, who’s still active. And it was interesting, she actually didn’t know where she was going when she was helicoptered in to talk to us because their job is that secret, it’s on a need to know basis, so she didn’t know until she arrived what her mission would be, which would be to talk to a bunch of actors. I hope she wasn’t disappointed. But I really had no idea just how bad ass the US marshals are until I talked to these people. They do a lot of undercover work. They are the best in the world at protecting people, at kicking down doors. They’re frequently borrowed by other branches of the U.S. Marshal Service just to do SWAT-related work. It’s a really cool job.
Nads: How would your technical advisors react when they couldn’t answer a question? What kind of questions could they answer…or couldn’t?
Fred: Well, we would say for example, let’s see, like we’d ask them questions have you ever had to play someone in such and such a location or, let me think. It was such a frequent occurrence that they would sort of be cagey about how to reply. Because for a while they would be able to tell you things and you’d think their guard was down and then suddenly the wall would go up.
They were very forthcoming regarding any SWAT type situation, like how you approach with a gun, how you kick down the door…But, anything that was more sophisticated regarding the witnesses, handling even how the witnesses were given money, like the procedures through which they were provided their weekly funds…I remember the marshal I was talking to suddenly got a little hitch in his conversational get along and he started to be a little cagey about just how the process, I don’t know why, but I remember that was something I was curious about, that he didn’t quite want to be straightforward about the money process, about when they’re given the money, where they’re given the money.
Nads: Wow, sounds so intense Fred!!! I really enjoyed the season premiere of the show, and am looking forward to this Sunday. Thanks for taking the time to talk!!!
If you haven’t seen In Plain Sight yet, it’s great. Check it out this Sunday at 10:00/9:00 central.