Matthew Lillard talks about “The Bridge” Season 2

Matthew Lilliard screenshot 2

Matthew Lillard was on set to talk about his role as the hard partying El Paso Times reporter Daniel Frye whose promising journalism career had been marred by his  substance abuse; investigating the  bridge murders may be his only ticket to redemption.

Matthew met with journalists and bloggers to talk about the second season of “The Bridge”, which returns on July 9, Wed. 10/9c on FX.


The Bridge promo poster

Matthew Lillard is an award winning actor, producer, and director.  He is known for his roles in such films as “Scooby-Doo”, ” The Descendants”, “Scream”, “She’s All That”, and “SLC Punk” to name a few.  He has guest starred in such tv shows as “House” and “Criminal Minds”.  He directed “Fat Kid Rules the World” which won the audience award at the SXSW Film Festival in 2012 and is founder of several theatre companies.

Do you think there will be a third season?

We are all hoping so.  Across the board we are very proud.  With the Peabody Award . . .  that’s our goal.

At the end of last season,  Frye was settling in a partnership with Adriana.  Before, they weren’t getting along.  How will we see their relationship evolve in course of this season?

This year is much different because we are no longer following protocol.  Last year, we were following the adaptation of the Danish show.  Last season, my character dies in episode 6 in the Danish episode.  Episode 6 came along and then I expected to be dead  in episode 10.  They gave me a script that said I was dead.  But I think our characters have changed dramatically.

We are part of the cast and are no longer guest stars.  We have every intention of making it through season 2.  We’re still alive.  We grow as characters on the tv shows based on fact we have become relevant characters to solve riddles for the lead characters.   I feel like this is a big shotgun blast of stories.

In first couple episodes, everything comes out.  Bam! As the stories go, characters prevail.  We have become a key element of bringing some of those things together.  That is how we evolved story wise. In the first season, she’s a newbie.  As show goes on, we become more of a dynamic duo.  We trust each other more.  There is a love between us and a partnership between us which is pretty powerful.  It’s a good balance in the show.

Matthew and Emily screenshot 2

Why did they not kill  you last season in episode 10?

It’s not for me to answer, but I think our characters provide something that other people aren’t.  In general, I’m funny.  That helps an element of the show.  I think people like me. I think that makes it easier to keep me around.  Elwood is on  record saying they felt Adrian and I brought something good for the show. Why kill something that is good?  The only reason they would have killed me was because of the Danish show.  We knew second season was going to be different anyway.

You did a lot of comedic roles.  Did you make a conscious choice to go into dramatic roles and go into tv or did it fall in your lap?

No.  Most actors are victims or are influenced by the circumstances given to them.  I came out of drama school in New York. If I was given a soap, I’d be doing a soap right now.  Had I gone to regional theatre, I’d be in regional theatre right now.  When you are coming out in this industry, so much weight is on what actors make.   99% of us are just trying to feed our family.  As a blue collar actor, I’m blessed what comes my way.  I’m lucky enough to not be waiting tables. I’ve been paying my rent for the last 25 years as an actor.

In success, you have the opportunity to create your destiny. It’s rare and hard. I’m funny, but I’ve never really been a comedian.  I’ve been in one comedy. The rest of the time I’m funny based on  circumstances.  I’m a hybrid.  I’m not really funny.  I’m not the guy with the brooding darkness.  I’m just kind of between. Right now, I couldn’t be happier. After all of that, with the ups and downs, I’ve landed on a show that is exquisite, and a network that supports what it is and lets it be what it is.

Matthew Lilliard Scooby

What do you love about the character?

He is debaucherous.  Elwood builds interesting bad guys and flawed good guys.  I’m get to operate in both worlds.  In episode 1, he has the line, “I’m a fully functioning alcoholic”.  There’s a lot of depth to him.  He is smarter than everyone else in the room.  He’s funny.  He’s just great.

There are shows that are micromanaged.  They are word specific and showrunners that are so obsessed seeing their writing verbatim. But there’s freedom on this show to advocate for your own character and to bring more value to it.  We’re valued here. As an actor, that is all you what you want.  We don’t make as much as other people, but we get to put words in our mouth that is better than 99%.

 You’ve had scenes where you’re down and out.  What has been biggest challenge in this role so far?

Keeping him within the tone of the show is hard for me.  If they give me enough rope to hang myself, I go too far.  It is finding balance of being funny, and having the ability to land emotional moments.  Last year, I was in AA.  It was one of the favorite scenes I’ve done in my career. I have a scene in 207 which is right up there.  It’s being able to do both.

The challenge is finding the humanitory humor and the drama in the comedy.   It’s one thing to be good for 3 months and another thing to be good for 6 months. In a movie script, I know the 5 scenes I have forward and backwards and I can work it to oblivion.  I know I’m ready.  Here, you’re given the work  the day before.  You want to be able to react and make strong choices.  You carry your own. You don’t want to be the thing on the show that sucks.

Matthew Lilliard screenshot 4

In episode 10 what can we expect?

He has a gnarly beard.  That’s all I can say.

He struggles.  This year is more about Adriana’s personal life.  He’s not in a good place.

When you’re playing a character like that who struggles with alcoholism and addiction, at the end of the day is it difficult to separate yourself from that character?

No, not me.  There’s definitely the 4 or 5 months  you’ve been doing it. You get tired and beat up.  It is the endurance of performing nine hour long days.   The emotional endurance can be tough but then you go home.  I have three kids and they don’t care what I do. I’m going home and playing baseball.  It’s easy to forget the trauma when you’re chasing your kids around the backyard.

How does hair & makeup make your day?

I don’t give a s*** about how I look.  If I’m concerned about my hair and makeup, there’s no way I am reacting on the other side of the line. For me, I honestly do not care. Whatever they want to do, i respect their job.  If I look like s***, that’s great.   It informs my work.   I believe great acting operates in the world of energy.  Hair and makeup are two contrary motivations.  I give them the time they need, and I love them dearly, then I want them to go away. With Diane, it’s not easy to make her ugly.  She is ridiculously beautiful and Demian is handsome in a mustache, which is impossible to understand  (laughing).

Matthew Lilliard red carpet

Can you talk about the set?  What is the favorite part of the new location?

Location. Reality is we are #4 on the call sheet. For me, I try to advocate for as much work as I can get.  With the work we get, we try to be great.  The show resolves around two amazing lead actors.  It’s great that it is all here.  There’s a real commitment from our last locations.  I feel like it is fantastic and I hope it will continue.

When you’re here and with the hair and makeup team, as Kathleen Turner once said, “When you do a movie, it is like having a marriage with a built in divorce.”   You know you are going to fall in love with somebody, and they are going to walk away and you’ll never see them again.  With tv crew, you have years together.  Those bonds and friendship are there when you’re working 14, 12, 16 hours a day.  That’s the most important thing. You’re with people you like.   They show up on time.  It’s a business.  That’s why people in the industry are professionals and bring their “A” game.

It’s a business, but  there is a comradery which is hard to understand unless you’re in it.  It’s different when everyone is doing a procedural every week.  If you are going after something elusive, art, we’re trying to make something fantastic.  It’s a concerted effort from all aspects of the show to achieve something great.  It’s fun.

When you read a script for an episode of a show or a film you are considering, can you tell if something is great?

Yes, in three pages, if that.  Bad actors can ruin a great script and great actors can’t save a bad script. No amount of great acting can save a script from falling apart.  If you’re not telling story, no amount of sincerity can save it.  What is between the words is just as important as the words.  If you can’t put together the first page, you are on a battle and on a journey to try to see through the cracks.  It’s hard to make a great script.  The reality is that by the time  it reaches you, it’s gone through a lot of monkeys and it ruins greatness.

I hope you like the show.  It’s nice to see the show growing.   I’ve never been on a tv show.  I’ve just been a guest star.  To have people recognize it and a build in the second season, it’s nice to know  . . . You’re on the road to a good ride.

Matthew Lilliard bridge headshot

Make sure to catch the premiere of  “The Bridge” on July 9, at 10/9c on FX!

Official web site:


Twitter:  @TheBridgeFX

You can keep updated on the latest with Matthew Lillard at Twitter!

Twitter:  @MatthewLillard


Courtesy of FX