Be­tween them, Nick Nolte and Sela Ward have nearly 150 movie and TV cred­its. But the pair had never worked to­gether un­til “Graves,” the fresh­man com­edy on Epix about a for­mer pres­i­dent (Nolte) striv­ing to re­pair the er­rors of his past, his am­bi­tious wife, Mar­garet (Ward), and their loopy ex­tended fam­ily. “Graves” has al­ready been re­newed for a sec­ond sea­son, which starts shoot­ing this month. ¶ The En­ve­lope re­cently sat down with Nolte, a three-time Os­car nom­i­nee (“War­rior,” “The Prince of Tides,” “Af­flic­tion”) mak­ing his first foray as se­ries TV star, and Ward, for­mer star of the ac­claimed TV se­ries “Sis­ters” and “Once and Again,” and the con­ver­sa­tion turned to the ori­gins of “Graves,” the cur­rent stormy po­lit­i­cal land­scape and the magic pos­si­bil­i­ties of a Trump tweet.

Nolte: My busi­ness part­ner, Greg Shapiro, said to me five years ago, “Will you do tele­vi­sion?” And I said yeah. He said, “How about a re­tired pres­i­dent, 25 years out of of­fice, how he’s changed his mind? It’s got to be the high­est-pres­sured job there is. You’ve got to make de­ci­sions and mean it.” I said, “Well, that’s in­ter­est­ing.”

Ward: I’m a huge fan of Nick’s. Do you know that?

Nolte: Yeah, you told me a cou­ple of times.

Ward: I read the script and went, “Oh my God, this is so well-writ­ten and smart.” It’s smart, clever, con­scious ma­te­rial — and it’s a com­edy. I started out in this busi­ness in com­edy and once I got a TV drama, I couldn’t get ar­rested in com­edy.

How do you think the new ad­min­is­tra­tion might in­flu­ence Sea­son 2?

Nolte: Well, you can only look at the Trump pres­i­dency and say, “My, what marvelous ma­te­rial.” I’m sure we’ll use it in some way. I hope we don’t garner a tweet back.

But think of the pub­lic­ity!

Nolte: Well, we’ll be as sub­tle as we can. Maybe he won’t pick it up. Maybe he won’t but maybe he will. This is a dif­fer­ent kind of pres­i­dency than there’s ever been. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the for­mer Pres­i­dent Graves and Mar­garet, the for­mer first lady, might be deeper than some view­ers ex­pect. Mar­garet tries to get him out of his jams; he served as pres­i­dent, but she’s the glue that holds the fam­ily to­gether. Af­ter he de­stroys his pres­i­den­tial li­brary in a sym­bolic act of protest in Episode 1, she’s the one who comes to res­cue him. Nolte: I said to Sela, “Let’s have a re­la­tion­ship in which they ...” what was the word I used? They dig­nify each other. Their long-term re­la­tion­ship is about dig­nity and re­spect of each other. He is look­ing out for her, she looks out for him.

Ward: They honor each other.

Many peo­ple have com­pared Pres­i­dent Graves to Ron­ald Rea­gan.

Nolte: If you look at Rea­gan, it was the fa­cade that he put out: He be­came a Great Com­mu­ni­ca­tor. Well, I don’t think he had the great­est voice, but —

Ward: But he had that same thing that [Bill] Clin­ton had, the same abil­ity to speak to the heart of peo­ple. That’s the dif­fer­ence. They knew how to speak to some­one and look at a per­son in front of them like they are the only per­son there and like they re­ally mat­ter.

Nolte: Obama had that abil­ity too. Hil­lary didn’t, but I think one of Hil­lary’s prob­lems was she had been at the dance too long. It was al­most like she has been in the pub­lic eye for so long, that by the time she gets up here to run for that job, I don’t know if she had any­where to go to be able to find that con­nec­tion.

Do you think “Graves” has been able to cap­i­tal­ize on peo­ple’s fas­ci­na­tion with pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics over the last year?

Ward: The un­for­tu­nate thing in Sea­son 1 was that no one could find the show be­cause it was Epix’s first foray into orig­i­nal pro­gram­ming. DirecTV didn't carry Epix, for in­stance. We made a deal with Ap­ple TV, and it’s on Ama­zon. But when it first aired, which was last De­cem­ber, ev­ery­body was go­ing, “How can I find it?” It re­ally hasn't been seen by a great num­ber of peo­ple.

Nolte: I ran into some farm­ers out in New York and a cou­ple of guys ad­dressed me as “Mr. Pres­i­dent.” You think “Graves” could end up run­ning as long as a pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion — like, four years or longer? Nolte: Could be. But I’ll be 80.

Mel Mel­con Los An­ge­les Times

SELA WARD gets to stand by her man, Nick Nolte, in the sec­ond sea­son of the com­edy “Graves,” which sees a for­mer pres­i­dent get back into the fray along with his po­lit­i­cally am­bi­tious wife.

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