Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Talking Tom’s World w/ ‘Damages’ Tate Donovan


By LillyKat
PTR Staff Writer


Tom’s World!

Tom’s World!

Party Time!

Ex-cel-lent!

(Ahem, and now back to our regularly scheduled non-Wayne’s World homage programming).

PTR was invited to participate on a conference call last week with actor Tate Donovan who plays Patty Hewes’ right-hand loyalist, Tom Shayes, on PTR fave Damages.

It’s been an interesting journey this season for Tom. He’s gone from being Patty’s right-hand, to almost-kinda-sorta-stepping out on his own, back to Patty’s right-hand whilst being made partner in the Hewes and Associates firm to now seemingly being the only bridge between what has cryptically transpired between Patty and Ellen (which saw one bail out of town and the other sit in jail on attempted murder).

We only have two episodes left to this brilliantly crafted show's first season, and in catching up with Tate, he was equally enthusiastic about his character and time working on the show:

PTR: The storylines have just been so intricately woven throughout this first season. It’s really been an amazing thing to watch. One of your co-stars, Peter Facinelli, spoke to the fact that, as an actor, it’s as exciting to read the script as it has been for us the viewers to watch given you never really know what’s coming. Do you agree? What has that experience been like for you?

Tate Donovan: It’s been kind of a very freeing experience. We have no idea what our characters are going to be doing next. And [the writers and producers] don’t talk [about it much], so it is secretive. [But] these guys are really super bright and really good at what they do. So, there is a tremendous trust in them. They [can] literally come up with stuff [at the last minute]. Sometimes the morning we’re going to shoot something, they’ll literally e-mail [those] pages [of the script] to the set. So, we get them, memorize and shoot it right there [on the spot]. It’s an amazing experience. You really let go of thinking you’re in control of your character. You just react, do the best you can [and] give it up. [Once you do that], it’s actually kind of fun.

PTR: When you were on The OC, you had an opportunity to direct an episode, and you’re hoping to be able to direct an episode of Damages should it get renewed for a second season. What is the experience like directing a show on which you are also the star? Does it make it easier? Is it harder? What’s kind of the most challenging aspect of wearing both those hats?

Tate Donovan: It’s surprising [how much] directing really helps your acting, and [how much] acting really helps your directing. For me, the more you know as an actor the better. People behind the monitor sort of [inherently] trust you. It’s not as difficult as one would imagine.

PTR: As you look back on this first season, what are you going take away with you the most? Is there anything in particular that you’re really going to remember, either personally or professionally? Maybe a certain experience or one particular episode you really enjoyed?

Tate Donovan: Well, I had a great episode (“A Regular Earl Anthony”) that was a lot about Tom. That was a great experience …

PTR: … that was a great episode because it really showed a very different side to Tom.

Tate Donovan: Yeah. You sort of got under his skin and thought [about] what he was going through. And I really loved shooting that. I hope there are more episodes like that. [It] was sort of my favorite episode. And, just working with such a good group of people. I’ve never really worked with procedures like this [who] are so bright and inclusive. They just work so hard. You just admire them so much. I think that’s what I walk away with the most - just admiring the producers so much.

PTR: If you could have a conversation with Tom or tell him one particular thing what would that be – would it be advice or would you just shoot the breeze with him?

Tate Donovan: That’s a good question. You know, this may sound kind of odd but I don’t really feel [there is] a huge difference between Tom and I. So I guess I [would] try to be a little bit more honest and more upfront than Tom. But then again, I’m not in [the corporate lawyer] world where this kind of [underhanded] stuff is going on. I just make films and television and theater, and I try to have a descent nice relationship every once in a while. He’s in an entirely different world. I think I’m far more naïve than Tom. I think Tom is far more jaded [given he's] in a tougher world than me. So I think he’d probably have some advice for me. Like, "Hey Tate, why don’t you talk to the producers and get your own show ..."

PTR: … that’s good. Why not have Tom give you some advice. That’s all right.

Tate Donovan: Yeah. I think Tom would have far more advice for me than I would for Tom.

As for his thoughts on a second season (which FX has yet to announce but of which we here at PTR are very much hoping will materialize), Tate had this to say:

"I read this great book called Letters to a Young Lawyer. [The book talks about the fact] there are two kinds of lawyers: ones who want everyone to like them, and the others [who don’t] care at all and maybe even prefer to be disliked. Tom is definitely a guy who wants to be liked. So, I think it would be fun to take Tom into maybe the realm of politics where being liked is super important. But it’s really up to [the writers and producers]. As long as I have lots to do, I’m a happy camper. If they want to make me the mass murderer, that’s fine with me. If they want to make me a hero that saves people in the end, I’ll take it. I just like to be in the mix. [As for the show], what’s pretty cool is [this season’s finale] really answers a lot of the major questions. You find out who kills David. You find out what happens in the Arthur Frobisher case. The big central sorts of mysteries are solved. But what they’ve done is set up a dynamic for next year that is fantastic. I finished reading it and thought, "That is so good." It makes you go "Oh, my God. I’ve got to check out next season because that’s going to be amazing." Currently the word is that FX doesn’t [let you know about renewing for another season] until after all of the episodes have aired. But we’re hoping. We’re definitely hoping. Say a prayer!"

PTR would like to thank FX Network, Sony Pictures and Tate Donovan for his time and thoughtful responses to questions. New episodes of Damages air Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. You can also have fun visiting the Hewes and Associates Official Web Site.

**Special Programming Note: FX will be airing another Damages marathon Saturday, October 20th from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check your local listings to be sure of the time in your area. The first season finale will air Tuesday, October 23rd at 10 p.m. Be sure to catch up on the show before the finale!

1 comment:

suekola44 said...

Great interview! Tate answered some of my questions about the finale. I've been wondering how much they plan to reveal and wrap up.