OF ‘FBI’ ON CBS
Before signing up to star in “FBI,” did you have an interest in the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
I didn’t grow up hearing about the FBI. It was never a thing where I was like, “You know what I’m going to do when I grow up?” ... mostly because I just wanted to be an Olympian. I was wondering myself, even, why I was so interested in taking this after I read the script. And the reason is that I really, really, really have a passion for justice. And I really love to believe that people want to do the right thing. I’m fascinated with human beings and behavior and why we choose to do the things that we do. People who decide to do things that are wrong or bad come from somewhere where, if you can get to that place of who they are or what’s happened to them in their circumstances, it makes it very fascinating to me.
What do you think the answer to that is, if there is one?
I think that we all really want the same things. We want to feel safe. We want hope. We want to believe that there’s a purpose in our life.
And people make different decisions based on where they’ve come from and what they’re doing, so in that regard, I’m really excited to be a part of this show.
How have you found relocating to New York to make “FBI”?
The city doesn’t sleep. They’re throwing crap out at 3 in the morning by the hotel. I’m like, “Go to bed. I need to go to bed. I don’t understand this place.” But what I do love about New York City is the people. I actually find them very fascinating. You can look at anybody and have no idea what they do. It’s very interesting to me. What’s the funnest part of playing Stan?
I think the funnest part about playing Stan is grounding him in some authentic emotional understanding of what his path is, and that sounds a little granola but it’s not. In other words, Archie Bunker – we forgive Archie his transgressions because of Edith and how much Edith loves him. And I think the only reason we forgive Stan is because of how much he loves Claire, how much he loves Denise, how much – as much as he doesn’t want to admit it – loves Evie.
And he wants to be this grumpy old guy, but in the bottom of the ninth with the bases jacked, you want him coming out of the bullpen. Even though he’s underequipped and ill-mannered and doesn’t know how to actually accomplish dispatching these witches, he’s going to get it done somehow, some friggin’ New Hampshire Yankee way he’s going to get it done. And the whole time he’s going to be authentically engaged emotionally in what we’re doing here.
How did you create him originally?
Well, the first thing I had to do was find his voice because I wanted it to be divorced from all things Dr. Cox. And where I met him – this is going to sound like an insane cocktail – but I met him somewhere between Jason Robards, George C. Scott, Lee J. Cobb and my father. And as soon as I could find that sound and those rhythms, I was locked in.
I had to find a sound first and I know that sounds a little ass-backwards but I was validated by, of all people, Daniel Day-Lewis. Because right when I was doing this, he was talking about finding Lincoln’s voice for Spielberg’s movie and said he couldn’t play Lincoln before he found his voice. And since there are no recordings of that president, Daniel said that he had to find that guy’s voice. And I swear to you, I know what he meant. As soon as I found Stan’s voice, I knew who he was.