Jake Mc­dor­man ‘It’s Been Re­ally Easy to Talk Soul to Soul’

Variety - - Top Billing -

The cul­tural rel­e­vance of “Mur­phy Brown,” which bridged pol­i­tics and hu­mor, res­onates so much to­day that Jake Mc­dor­man (“Lady Bird” and “Amer­i­can Sniper”) wel­comed a re­turn to the small screen. He co-stars in the re­vival as the ti­tle char­ac­ter’s adult son, Avery, who’s a TV news an­chor at a ri­val sta­tion.

What drew you to “Mur­phy Brown”?

There was No­vem­ber 2016, and ev­ery­thing kind of just changed, where find­ing my place and what I wanted to do felt dif­fer­ent. I was be­com­ing more po­lit­i­cally aware and ex­cited to have those con­ver­sa­tions. ... I didn’t nec­es­sar­ily ex­pect that to in­flu­ence the next job I took in the in­dus­try. But karmi­cally it made sense; it sort of ticked two boxes.

How do you feel about your char­ac­ter’s pol­i­tics?

The thing that I ad­mire about him is he’s like, “We have to drive our ef­forts to­ward the mid­dle — even though this is the most po­lar­iz­ing time we’ve lived in.”... He’s been on the ground floor see­ing this grass­roots move­ment at a more in­ti­mate level than Mur­phy has. It’s the ou­trage of it that’s brought Mur­phy on the air; it’s the un­der­stand­ing of it that’s brought Avery on the air. And that’s the source of a lot of their com­pe­ti­tion. That’s a re­ally im­por­tant as­pect, be­cause you don’t want to just fall into an echo cham­ber.

What was most im­por­tant about cre­at­ing mother-son chem­istry with Candice Ber­gen?

It’s re­ally just a vibe. I flew out to New York to test with Candice ... and I was ner­vous, ob­vi­ously, and Candice just busted open the door and said, “Mc­dor­man, get your ass in here!” I had never met her be­fore, and I don’t know why, but it calmed me down. It es­tab­lished it would be no bull­shit. So it’s been re­ally easy to talk soul to soul.

Have you had to ad­just your per­for­mance style to ac­count for the live sit­com au­di­ence?

It’s in a lot of ways eas­ier, if you don’t get too in­tim­i­dated by it. Be­cause you just pick up on their fre­quency. ... Film moves at a slower pace and is so up close, and you have your cov­er­age where you’re kind of turn­ing it on. But [here] ev­ery­one’s on all of the time and on the same team. There are a lot of tech­ni­cal dif­fer­ences, but at the same time hav­ing an au­di­ence is en­er­giz­ing in a way that’s re­ally spe­cial.

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