“I’ve grown to love acting so much,” says Reid Scott, “because I get to flex completely different creative muscles in front of the camera than I do behind it.” Scott, who is best known for his role as Dr. Todd Mauer opposite Laura Linney on Showtime’s cancer comedy, The Big C, initially had dreams of life in the director’s chair. But the film school graduate will have to put those plans on hold after hitting the actor’s jackpot with a part on HBO’s new workplace comedy, Veep. In the sharp, fast-talking show, adapted by acclaimed British satirist Armando Iannucci from his own BBC series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus portrays the American Vice President as a frustrated and marginalized second-in-Commander in Chief. Scott is the smarmy Dan Egan, a “snake in the grass” who sells out his senator boss for a chance to join the VP’s staff. “Who doesn’t like to play a bad guy?” Scott asks. “You get to exorcise all of your own demons.”
Unlike a perfectly contained Aaron Sorkin script, Veep has a more naturalistic style. “It isn’t glossy like The West Wing; even though that’s fine acting and fine writing, it doesn’t seem real. I’m pretty sure things don’t happen that way.” During shooting, the cast, which includes Anna Chlumsky and Tony Hale, was sequestered in Baltimore, “marinating” in their characters but still finding time to enjoy the city’s nocturnal comforts. “I had this preconceived notion that Baltimore was not going to have good food, and was completely surprised because every place we went had terrific food,” says Scott. “We always ended up at Salt, a little place with great beers. We’re all beer drinkers, and the food was awesome.
Photo by Damian Sandone
The Big C — Showtime’s female-aimed answer to Breaking Bad — premiers tonight along with a new season of Weeds. The New Yorker’s Nancy Franklin has mixed feelings. In a nutshell, Franklin thinks the show is so-so, but Laura Linney is fantastic. This sounds about right, as it’s essentially how I feel about the last few seasons of Weeds and Nurse Jackie; the stars (Marie-Louise Parker and Edie Falco, respectively) outshine the scripts. (For more of my thoughts on Weeds go here and here.)
The concept of the Big C — woman finds out she has terminal cancer, decides to really start living — sounds Lifetime-y i.e. un-apologetically designed to pluck the strings of our cheaply won hearts. But don’t underestimate Linney. She brings integrity and depth to her projects, always projecting an honest and often devastating sadness from her WASP-blue eyes. Curious to see how it turns out.
If you read Frank Bruni’s glowing profile of Laura Linney in last weekend’s Times magazine (and we strongly suggest you do), then you’re already familiar with Showtime’s next comedy centered around a strong female lead (others include Weeds, Nurse Jackie, and the United States of Tara). The Big C stars Linney as a slightly uptight teacher who becomes unhinged following a diagnosis of late-stage melanoma. It’s a heartless conceit: Making us fall in love with a character (it’s a cinch falling in love with Linney) and then giving her incurable cancer. Oh well, can’t say you weren’t warned. The show also stars Oliver Platt as Linney’s husband, and Gabourey Sidibe in a proving-Howard-Stern-wrong role as a sassy student. The Big C premieres August 16th, but we recommend streaming the first episode right here, right now, after the jump.