USA Network’s In Plain Sight [Fridays, 10/9C] begins is fifth and final season this week. Will Marshal Marshall Mann and Marshal Mary Shannon get together? How will the decidedly non-maternal Marshal Mary Shannon deal with actually being a mother? What will series stars Mary McCormack and Fred Weller remember most fondly – and what souvenirs are they looking to grab at season’s end?
Earlier this week, Mary and Fred spoke with a group of journalists/bloggers about these questions and so much more.
Hi guys. Thanks so much for talking to us today.
Mary McCormack: Thanks for having us.
So Fred, I like your new look on Twitter. What’s up with that?
Frederick Weller: My new look?
Weller: I’ll be honest with you, I – oh yes, yes, yes. You mean the drag? Yes, oh thank you, yes.
Who tweeted that Fred?
Weller: I can’t imagine who could have tweeted that Mary? Who would have tweeted that?
Weller: I can’t imagine.
McCormack: No I didn’t, I didn’t actually. I didn’t on purpose.
McCormack: I would never tweet that photograph.
Weller: I don’t know what surprise you’re talking about Mary. This is a personal image of me. It’s a new direction that I’m moving in, all based on advice from my agents.
They feel like I have pretty much played out the leading man type roles. And so we’re moving in a new direction. We’re going to go with more with character women.
All right. Now after that, can you just talk about kind of what we can expect this season?
Weller: Mary, go ahead.
McCormack: (Unintelligible) USA did really, I think very cool thing of telling us it was the final season before we began, which allowed us to really write it differently. You know, sort of decide what we wanted to (unintelligible) invested in.
And, you know, I mean people dedicated sort of five years to the show. I think it’s a nice way to honor the fans of the show by essentially respecting that and (unintelligible).
We deal with one of the big stories of the series, which has been, you know, the relationship between Mary and her father. And, you know, this is a guy who left when she was 7. And I think had a huge (unintelligible) sort of influence on her injury and her, you know, the person she is.
And so (unintelligible), you know, since they (unintelligible). So there’s a lot of really great scenes. And that story line is for the built into. What else, (unintelligible) relationship with Abigail, we have my adjusting to being a new mother, which has, you know, finally (unintelligible).
So yes, there’s a lot of stuff. I mean I think the eight episodes are some of our best. We’re excited.
Okay and what this season has been – continued to be challenging for the both of you?
McCormack: Continued did you say?
Yes, well or something new that challenged you.
McCormack: Well Fred’s often challenged. I mean Fred’s a challenge. I don’t know. I mean we have a good time. I guess that’s challenging. I mean challenging for me is the stamina involved. It’s the hours we work.
You know, that’s a challenge. And Fred and I both have really little kids. And so I’d say for me it’s just the stamina and the hours because the actual work is fun. And the people we work with is really fun.
[I’m] definitely interested in knowing what you’ll be taking home with you as a memorial set piece?
McCormack: Great question. I was thinking about that the other day. I was eyeing everything on the set. And I was like what will it be? I don’t know what it will be?
Every single souvenir you want.
McCormack: I want suggestions. All my twitter followers should send me suggestions. I need ideas. (Unintelligible) that decision.
Weller: Well I thought you wanted the (Flegler)?
McCormack: Yes I don’t think so. What am I going to do with the (Flegler)?
Weller: A bunch of stapling?
McCormack: What a (Flegler) is.
So the staples are also a souvenir. You have to…
McCormack: Yes and then I get to staple crap. No, I need a real souvenir. I mean what are you taking Fred, anything?
Weller: Well, you know those little wind up robot bugs? My son would flip for those. He’s crazy about robots. So I’m going to take that.
McCormack: Yes that’s good. That was on your desk. I don’t have that kind of thing. I don’t know what I would take.
Weller: I’m going to try to take my desk chair because it’s really comfortable.
McCormack: You get arrested for that.
Well are you going to – what are some of the memories you remember most though that you’ll cherish the most from your time on In Plain Sight?
McCormack: Well Fred in drag, now that – I wasn’t going to tell everybody. But now it’s out, Fred is in drag this season. That’s a hard memory for me to shake, as much as I’d like too. It was shocking, just shocking because Fred I think you’re handsome. You know, I know I don’t say it a lot. But you’re handsome.
Weller: Thank you Mary.
McCormack: And it does not translate. You are not pretty.
Weller: I am not. Let me say I am not my type.
McCormack: I agree. You’re not my type either. It’s funny because you are an attractive man. And somehow it does not translate. Your bone structure is not at all feminine.
Weller: Really I’m (unintelligible), just not – pretty homely.
McCormack: Yes what other memories? We have a lot – we had a lot of fun Fred and I. What other memories do we have? (Unintelligible) dancing. One time Fred had, oh no, I can’t tell that one. I can’t.
McCormack: We have a lot of laughs. We have a lot. Remember Fred, remember that one time you tried to kick the (unintelligible) and you went through the door like The Shining.
Weller: Yes and you told them to keep rolling and my foot was stuck.
McCormack: Oh I’ve never laughed harder in my life. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I was so happy.
Weller: Yes you thought that was very funny.
McCormack: It was funny.
Weller: You know what I love? You know what I love doing is all the action sequences, plans and props with you. Just, you know, when we were really picky about those.
McCormack: A lot of scanning.
Weller: Yes. That’s what we learned from our technical advisor. Just always be scanning.
McCormack: Our technical advisor comes up to us and you’d think he’s have some really good piece of advice. But he’s like, don’t forget to scan. Just always be scanning. So Fred and I were ABS, ABS, always be scanning.
Weller: That’s fun stuff.
McCormack: (Unintelligible) okay.
Tell me, let’s see, first of all I just want to say that baby Nora is one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen. I don’t suppose it’s your new baby Mary, is it?
McCormack: It’s not. I didn’t use her.
Is that (unintelligible)?
McCormack: It’s actually, we have a bunch of babies. So it depends on which take you’re looking at (unintelligible) same age and the same level (unintelligible).
Well okay. I didn’t really think it was yours, but I thought I’d ask.
McCormack: Yes. No.
You once characterized Mary Shannon as the least maternal person in the world. So what – how is she going to change this season given that she has a baby?
McCormack: Yes she changes in a lot of ways, and sort of forced to sort of change. I mean there’s a lot of things going on in her life. Her father comes back. You know, Fred is in a relationship.
Lots of things in her life, her mother is sober and sort of moving out. And everyone seems to be moving out of her life (unintelligible) with the one thing that she never thought she’d be (unintelligible) mother.
So it’s actually, to me it was real exciting. I mean I didn’t plan to shake up the show by getting pregnant. But Jeff Wachtel, who is the head of USA was very sweet when I called him and told him I was pregnant. And sort of thought it was a great opp – or at least he said it was. But he though it was a great opportunity for, you know, a really cool character development for (unintelligible).
I recently read that Paul Ben-Victor is one of the actors and a writer on your new venture Mary. It’s called what? Should have been Romeo? Can you tell us a little about it?
Lynn Wise – USA Network: Oh did we lose Mary?
Weller: I can’t – she’s been breaking up on me.
Wise: Yes she has. She has. I’m going…
Weller: She seems more intelligent that way though.
Wise: Can you hear me now?
Moderator: Pardon the interruption. Ms. McCormack has disconnected. We’ve dialing back out to her now.
Wise: Okay thank you.
In the meantime like can I ask Fred a question?
Wise: Yes please do.
Okay. In our last interview you said Marshall is well aware of his feelings for Mary and vice versa. Do you think Marshall is going to admit his feelings to Mary now that the show is coming to a close?
Weller: I think he’s going to have to start out for a little more than he has in the past. At the same time those feelings are kind of revolving. I mean the fact that she’s had a baby is a big factor there.
I think it’s possible that Marshall might be ready to face the fact that his relationship with Mary has been one of sibling rivalry for so long now that it might be better or him to move on romantically.
Weller: It’s possible. It’s really possible that even though he’s this romantic…
Operator: Ms. McCormack is back on the call.
Weller: He might have to move on.
McCormack: Hi, everybody.
Weller: Hey Mary.
Fred can you tell me a little bit about your next project, The Normals?
Weller: The Normals is a, it’s a story that takes place inside of a mental facility where the patients are volunteering or subjecting themselves to scientific experiments.
And I play an annoying actor who is just there to do research. Brian Greenberg stars. He’s terrific. He’s very (dead pan). And he definitely needs money. He’s on the run from some pretty mean creditors.
It’s like a more comedic version of Some Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – One Few over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Well that’s a huge hit.
Weller: Yes it was a great (unintelligible).
And Mary can you tell us about your new project, Should have been Romeo? I understand that Paul Ben-Victor is one of the actors and a writer for it.
McCormack: Yes, that was the movie that Paul made. And I did a couple days on it. And I haven’t seen it yet. But (unintelligible) and says it’s funny. Great, yes.
So I was wondering, in the first episode, The Anti-Social Network, where, you know, Mary still seems kind of like out of the loop since she’s been gone. Is that something that’s going to continue throughout the season? Or do they kind of like snap back into normal?
McCormack: No, she snaps back into it. I think it’s just she’s been away for six months. And no one really knows how to treat her as a mother. And she didn’t really know where she (unintelligible). I think she gets a handle on it pretty quickly and so happy to do that.
I don’t think she’s a girl who could stop working, you know. I… she’d (be) even crazier.
I’m surprised she stayed away from work for six months. It seems like a…
McCormack: Yes. I think that was also, you know, it’s you can’t really work with a three months old. But you can work with a six month. I mean there’s a bunch of production reasons for that as well.
So do we get to see Marshall and baby Nora in any way? I know baby-sitting was like hinted at in the first episode. But Mary seems to shoot that down.
McCormack: He’s around her sometimes.
Weller: I am cradling baby Nora, wondering about my life past.
McCormack: We’re all with her at some point. I mean we have a lot (unintelligible), you know, because babies can only work sort of 20 minutes at a time. So when we have babies in scenes there’s like a nursery like with 10 babies. And they all sort of look the same. It’s like incredibly cute, all in the same T-shirt. It’s ridiculous.
Weller: Paul Ben-Victor does a little tango with the baby cheek to cheek. It’s very funny.
So what can you tell…
McCormack: Two (balding).
So how big of a part, because you said that Mary’s dad comes back into play. Is he going to – can you say anything about the circumstances that he comes back? If it’s going to be…
McCormack: Yes. I mean I don’t know how much I can say. I won’t say too much because it’s so exciting to watch. (Unintelligible) criminal and was a fugitive. So when he comes back, you know, it’s a pretty big deal (and I’m his) law enforcement.
So it’s not easy reconciliation, you know. And she’s injured. I mean she’s really, you know, it’s (unintelligible) over the years how much that his leaving, you know, broke her heart. But I think we really see it in episode, I guess he comes back at end of 5, and he’s really in 6 and 7 and on.
He, you know, you get a real sense of just how much damage it did to her, you know. And how much she really wishes it had been different. And it’s really… Steven is a great actor. And I hope it all turns out well because we’re having fun making it. It’s a big part of her life, Mary Shannon’s life.
I’m glad that we get a chance to have him come back before the season ends.
McCormack: Me too. I felt like, you know, we talked about it every season. We were like maybe he should come back now. And then, you know, smartly Jeff Wachtel who is really – with story it was always like I think you should wait. I think you wait. And I think he was right.
You know, that it’s such a big part of Mary’s character, I think that injury that it really helps to have it in this final season because it feels like a form of closure, you know, to be telling that story now.
And if you had to say, if Marshall and Mary have some big conflict, like what’s the hardest thing they’re working through this season, either together or off in their own personal lives?
McCormack: Well I mean obviously together there’s this long history of will they or won’t they. And, you know, sometimes I’m in a relationship and sometimes he’s in a relationship. And that’s always complex.
And this final season does explore that further. I mean I don’t want to give it away if we will or we won’t. But it definitely, we deal with it. And it’s, you know, I think it’s dealt with in an adult way. And it’s really, yes, I think that’s definitely some conflict for us.
And other than that, I mean we’re, it’s the gru -you know, we’re partners and we sort of just go off and do our thing together and have fun. Make each other laugh.
And then Mary’s own conflict, I mean I can’t speak to Fred. I guess Fred has his own conflict about his relationship with Abigail and whether that’s right or whatever.
But I have mine with, you know, I think really with my father and what that means him coming back.
What do you think Fred? What’s Marshall’s biggest problem?
Weller: Well I mean that whole idea of who am I going to marry. I don’t envy people who are still in that part of their life because that’s just the biggest most awful decision.
It’s huge. It’s so stressful. So Marshall is experiencing all that. I mean he’s in a serious relationship with this girl. And then he’s working with this person that he knows he’s got feelings for. But Mary’s got a baby by another man. It’s awfully messy and awfully complicated.
Fred I was wondering, you were talking about the Rachel Boston’s character. So how much more serious are things going to get for those two over the next couple of episodes?
McCormack: Can’t tell.
Weller: Well let me just say that it is a period of turmoil for Marshall. And it’s a source of great conflict and inner conflict and interpersonal conflict for the show. So it’s good stuff.
I mean they’re caring for a dog together. That’s pretty heavy stuff.
Weller: That’s commitment. That’s major.
McCormack: You know, that dog was actually meant for – that dog was actually written for me. And I was like I couldn’t believe it because it was sort of planned before I told anyone I was pregnant.
And then I was like, when I spilled the beans that I was pregnant, I was like please don’t give me a dog and a baby or I will never see my own children again. Like if you give me a dog and a baby, yes. So that was when we re-wrote it. We’re like: and she gives the dog away.
McCormack: And animals. So I was like I have to actually see my children once a week.
Weller: What you’re referring to is a dog or a baby prolongs any scene and shoot because it’s difficult to get them to do what you need them to do.
McCormack: Yes, he got that.
Weller: All right.
And Mary I was wondering what you could say about the Josh Hopkins character. How he’s going to woo you or not.
McCormack: You know, Josh Hopkin’s character – yes, he certainly does his best. He plays this guy Kenny who I meet in a coffee shop and sort of share a sense of humor with. And yes, he’s – he is a great actor and a nice guy. And he’s the MEI. So it was fun when he was around, really fun. I like him.
My first question is for Mary. I was just wondering since you’re a working mom yourself, how your difficulties or challenges as a working mom compared to Mary’s on screen?
McCormack: Well I think all working moms have the same problem. I mean I was up, I think I got an hour sleep last night. I was up with a sick kid through the night like vomiting all over me in the bed and I mean, you know.
And I was – I think I slept literally two hours and was in hair and make up for a day of press. But that’s like every working mother. You know, you just, you burn it on both ends and you do the best you can. And you kind of fail at everything and then try to forgive yourself the next day. Like every single woman in the world knows that struggle so.
Yes we try to tell that story, you know, realistically on the show too that you, you know, you’re sleep deprived and you’ve got food all over you and kind of stink and clothes hurt. You know, we try to be honest about it.
Great. And Fred I know that you guys said that you’re not – Marshall doesn’t have a lot to do with the baby. But I was still wondering since you’re a dad yourself, is there a difference between how you act with the baby as Marshall and then how you are with your own children?
Weller: Well yes. I mean I have to sort of pretend like I’m more of a novice than I am a bit. But I mean Marshall is probably a natural. So it’s not too much of that. It’s just a slight, you know, remembering what it was like the first time you handle babies.
But Marshall, his basic outlook is pretty close to mine. And it’s the way he feels towards kids. It’s pretty close to mine.
So what do you two think you’ll miss the most once the show is over?
McCormack: I’m going to miss Fred the most.
Weller: I’ll miss Mary. I said it first.
McCormack: No it’s true. I really will. We have had a great time together. I can’t imagine, I mean I can’t believe I like to just give Fred, you know, garbage. But it’s true. We have a great time together and we laugh a lot. And we sort of work in a very similar way.
And so our days are a lot more fun than they have any right to be for as long as they are. But so I think I’ll miss Fred the most and Paul. And I mean we work with a great group of actors.
Okay. Now I did want to ask, I mean we’ve only seen the first episode so it’s kind of hard to tell. But it seems like so far that even though she’s, you know, so protective of the baby. She’s still kind of, well bitchy at work. I’m curious, is Mary’s like personality going to be affected at all at work by what happens at home?
McCormack: I don’t think she is. Fred do you think so? I mean I think she’s more tired and more grouchy. Bu I don’t think – I think it’s the same Mary at work, don’t you?
Weller: Yes I mean, you know, she’s already pretty maxed out on the grouchiness. So…
McCormack: Yes well somehow that got more.
Weller: Just got a red lining on the grouchiness. So it’s not really that huge (unintelligible). I mean it’s interesting to me yes, she’s not maternal. And yet she manages to be a mother in a way that makes sense.
She’s still kind of a hard ass. You know, cynical. She doesn’t – it’s not like she…
McCormack: She’s against baby talk. She’s against, you know, she’s not mushy that way.
Weller: She doesn’t change as much as you’d think.
McCormack: At one point we read a line where I say she’s a whore for sweet potatoes. I thought that was very Mary Shannon.
All right. And can you talk about any of the guest stars we’re going to see this season that you haven’t mentioned?
McCormack: Oh gosh we had Tia Carrere this season the brilliant and beautiful Tia Carrere. We have Stephen Lang. He’s amazing.
Weller: The beautiful Julia Jones from Twilight movies.
McCormack: Yes. Who else do we have? We have some great actors. Who else Fred, think, think, think.
Woman: Madchen Amick is joining.
McCormack: Madchen Amick is joining. (Unintelligible) French. He did a good job.
Woman: Christian de la Fuente.
McCormack: Christian de la Fuente comes back.
McCormack: That was a treat.
McCormack: Brian Cowen of course.
I’d like to sort of follow up even a little more seriously a couple of the other questions about the conclusion of this professional relationship.
When you do a show like this you spend much time with your co-star… well co-stars than you do with almost any other people in your life. Is there a sort of a sense of melancholy as the conclusion of production approaches? Or have you even had time to think about that, about…
Weller: I’m sad. I’m sad. And Mary’s pretending to be sad.
McCormack: No I’m really sad. I have not – we have not had a ton of time because we’re racing. We just run, run, run to get it done. And then the next one is in production. And pre-production, then there’s re-writes and all this stuff that we sort of involve ourselves with.
And so we haven’t had a ton of time. But I imagine the end is going to hit us hard because yes, I don’t think that this relationship that Fred and I have happens a lot. I mean I’ve been making television for a thousand years. I’m as old as the hills. And never worked with anyone that, you know, I just work with so easily.
And Fred and I spend a lot of time together. And, you know, we always enjoy each other every single day. So I think that’s going to be really sad because I sort of know wherever I go after this, it won’t be that.
And, you know, same, I mean I don’t know about for Fred. I mean he’ll, you know, he’ll wander away.
Weller: I’m never going to work again. I’m never working again.
McCormack: I know. That’s…
McCormack: Who knows what will happen. It is a career wrap for you.
Weller: Pretty much it.
I noticed that Josh Malina wasn’t on the list of stars returning this season. Has he totally been written out?
McCormack: Yes he has, yes.
McCormack: [Brandy] has exploded that relationship in a non-retrievable way. So yes, gosh. And he was a great addition. But he’s not coming back (then end of due date).
Speaking of Brandy, I really missed her in the season premier. Is she going to be coming back with (unintelligible) when (Jinx) returns?
McCormack: Yes. Well she’s back in I think it’s just in the finale. She does come back.
Can you tell us a little bit, I know Tia Carrere is going to play Stan’s love interest. Can you tell us a big about how that relationship is going to affect the story line this year?
McCormack: I’m sorry, I missed that?
Weller: The question is how Stan’s relationship, how Paul Ben-Victor’s relationship with Tia Carrere is going to affect the story lines. We’re going to be all a titter about it.
And it will be – it will occasion much mirth among his co-workers, the fact that he’s got a lady friend.
McCormack: And the fact that she’s six feet tall. It’s really the fact that like what an off match they are.
Weller: And they tango together. That’s got to be funny. I can’t wait to see that.
Me too. One last question. Do you have a favorite season of all the seasons that you’ve done?
Weller: What a question.
McCormack: I do.
Or a favorite episode.
McCormack: I have a favorite season, which was 1, Season 1.
Weller: My favorite episode is Horst, Episode…
McCormack: Yes I think Horst is my favorite one too. Horst is my favorite. And then I would say my second favorite is Iris Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
Weller: Yes both Season 1. That was great.
McCormack: So Season 1.
It’s been wonderful run. And I’ve been a loyal fan since the first. And I’ll be there until the end.
McCormack: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Weller: Thank you.
What do you think the two of you just in general over the whole, this whole process and everything, what do you think you’ve most learned about yourselves that you’ll take away?
Weller: Well I learned that I’m good at working with difficult actresses.
McCormack: What have I most learned? I’ve learned a lot about, I think I’ve learned a lot about production. You know, I should have, you know, because I’m in most scenes, I know a lot more about how a TV show is made then I ever thought I would learn.
And budgeted and written and, you know, I’ve learned a lot about just the nuts and bolts of making an hour long show. Which has been great. Actually it’s been sort of an incredible learning – a steep learning curve.
And I’ve learned to forgive myself. I mean, you know, in terms of I used to pride myself on knowing all my lines before I came to set. And there’s just no, with three kids and the line load that I have, there’s no way to do that.
And I’ve learned to just sort of do bites sort of, you know, do the best I can and move on. And know that, you know, I also have to be there for the kids. And if I wake up and spend a half-hour with them, that that’s equally important. It’s hard. That’s what I’ve learned is to be more forgiving to myself.
Weller: Yes I mean it’s been five seasons of working with a camera. I feel much more comfortable now than when I did before.
McCormack: And don’t you think Fred now that you learned that you want do direct?
Weller: Yes I want to direct.
McCormack: Direct, and I think if we had a longer season or one more, I would campaign for that. I wish you’d done that. So I think wherever he ends up next, he should really push to do that because he’s really good at it.
I mean there’s often we’re blocking a scene or I’ll ask for a line reading from Fred because I just trust his taste and he sort of sees things in terms of camera. I mean I think he’s a natural. I think you are. I think you’re a natural director.
Weller: Thank you darling. That’s very sweet of you.
McCormack: You’re welcome. I’m very sweet. I don’t know. I mean let’s get the word out, I am sweet.
Weller: You’re like a closeted sweet person.
McCormack: I’m also, you guys I’m also really low battery on my cell. I don’t know how many more we have, but I am super low.
If you two weren’t acting, what do you think you’d be doing?
McCormack: God I’d be homeless. I have no idea. I have no idea. I love the movie business. So I would probably wiggle my way in somewhere. I’d be like – I’d do anything. I just like the business. I like crews. So I would be – whatever department would take me I would find my way in there.
Weller: I’ve always assumed that I would be a trained assassin. I think that’s it. Yes, yes. I’m going to go with assassin.
I have to ask now because you brought that up. Is there a reason you would be a trained assassin? Do you have people that you just want to kill or something? How does that come to you?
Weller: No. I just, I am such a, just pure, raw, animal essence that I think that kind of just extreme testosterone fueled, extreme danger would probably be my thing.
Now you know that you can be undercover in drag when you have to kill someone is what you’ve learned.
Weller: That’s right. That’s right. I guess, you know, somebody just asked a question what I’ve learned the most. I guess I’ve learned that I can walk in high heals.
That’s a pretty good accomplishment.
So how do you think both Marshall and Mary have changed since we saw them in Season 1, if any?
Weller: Mary? Are you gone? Okay I think Mary’s battery died. Marshall was an extreme romantic. And I think he’s becoming a little bit more of a realist. I think some of Mary’s realism has rubbed off on him.
All right well thank you very much.
Weller: Thank you.
Photos by Cathy Kanavy, Michael Muller, Robert Ascroft/ Courtesy USA Network