Last week I was on a press call with actor Noah Bean who plays David Connor on FX’s DAMAGES and it was a good time. Sometimes press conference calls can be tricky to navigate because each one has their own set of rules but this one was really laid back allowing Noah to hopefully feel more comfortable talking into a phone with faceless reporters on the other end. The key was that they didn’t mute the person asking the question so it allowed them to laugh or interact in a way that some conferences do not. There is a downside where someone coughs or types or sometimes has another phone conversation going but that didn’t happen this time. Regardless, thanks to FX and Noah Bean for allowing this call to happen.
If you’re not watching DAMAGES over on FX you need to stop reading this blog and get thee to a TV because it’s one of the most incredibly written and intensly acted shows on television. If you don’t get FX, try MyNetwork as they’ve begun airing reruns of the show.
I’ve eliminated which questions were asked by which reporters/bloggers to make for an easier read, it’s long so I’ll start with a question or two and then the rest will continue after the jump.
Question: What were your thoughts on A) joining the show where you know your character end is dead and B) that then potentially resulting in you not having as long as a run as other characters and I say potentially because we have no idea what’s going to happen?
N. Bean: I don’t really have any idea what’s going to happen either, which is amazing. But yes, it was kind of at first, when I first got the job, obviously in the pilot, we see what happens to David and it didn’t look so good. But at first, I was kind of thrilled because I thought this was just great. I get one season on this great show.
And then once we started shooting it, I was like, “Darn it, this stinks because,” it’s so great. It’s just gotten better and better and better, the show as we’ve continued shooting.
So it’s a little bit of a bummer, but I think it’s going to be sort of fascinating. I think the guys, our writers and our creators, have got some really cool story lines that are going to kind of build up to the end of the season and then like you said, I think that we’ve all kind of got no idea where this may go. So who knows? It may not be the complete end of David Conner.
Question: How did the Damages pilot script cross your path? What was the clincher for you to sign on to this project?
N. Bean: Basically, I just lucked out. I was the lucky one. They said yes to me, so I got it just in a typical way that my agent gave me the script. And I remember though when my agent gave it to me, he said, “This is really special and really good.” And I’ve been in New York since 2000, so it’s sort of rare that you get so few shows that shoot in New York.
So that to me was the first thing that it was something that I was really looking forward to try to find a show that keeps me in New York and not have to go to Montreal or L.A. And it just so happened that it was this fantastic script and so I was really lucky enough to get the part. I was finished as soon as I shot in New York, Glenn Close and probably one of the best pilot scripts, I bet.
Question: Did you know that Allen Coulter was going to be directing the first pilot?
N. Bean: I didn’t know that. I didn’t realize. And do be completely honest, I didn’t know when I first heard it was Allen. I didn’t realize who Allen was and then quickly, I did my research and obviously then knew the Sopranos and Hollywoodland and that. And Allen totally blew me away. I think that he did a great job with the pilot and he really set the tone of the piece and the way it’s shot because if feels like we’re shooting movies every week. It’s really shot in a really beautiful schematic way. Allen is just fantastic. I wish he would come back and direct more, but he’s off to some other projects.
Question: I was wondering if you could talk about how you find filming a TV series compared to acting on the stage.
N. Bean: Yes, that’s a great question. I think that the biggest challenge is that we don’t know where we’re going in this and so building a character when you don’t know what the end is going to be, although, I do have the fortune or the misfortune of knowing the ultimate end for my character.
But in the theatre, you get a script and you can really plot out your journey, the beginning, middle and end. And you know you want to play anger a certain way in Act I because there’s going to be a payoff in Act III. But in this it’s like being a part of a novel or being part of where all you can do is know everything about where you’ve been up to the current point. And then just play every scene for what it is, it’s a challenge, but it’s sort of an exciting time. And you’ve just got to be bold and brave and go in and give every scene everything you’ve got. But I think the theatre is always a great training ground for television and for film because of the specificities that’s required in theatre and really the ability to chart out a greater journey and … Bringing that to this project has been very valuable.
Question: Is your character David Conner going to have any scenes with Patty Hewes? And that is my first question. And secondly, I’m not sure if this is common knowledge, but I don’t know but how many episodes do you have left to shoot for the season?
N. Bean: They got us for 13 episodes, which is a full season on FX. And we’re about half way through shooting right now. We’re in the seventh episode shooting lines. And yes, without giving too much away, David, my character, does start to get some run-ins with Patty Hewes. Thankfully for myself, the actor, it’s like a dream come true. It’s fantastic.
Is it as good as they say it is?
N. Bean: I wouldn’t know completely, but yes, it’s pretty darn good. She is really amazing. We shot this scene a couple of weeks ago and I went in with all this stuff kind of planned out and had all these ideas about the scene and kind of going to do this thing where I really want to stare her down. And I’ll tell you man, we got into this scene and they yelled action and Glenn just—she saw what I was doing, I think and she then went so over top with me and stared me down, that I couldn’t even look at her. She went inside my soul; it was really fascinating and terrifying at the time.
But yes, she’s really, really great. And she just puts her all into it and that it is very infectious for I think everybody on set, cast and crew. Because we’re doing some long days and some hard work and difficult scenes, but she really is not satisfied, unless she’s really giving it all she has and that everything has to be truthful and real and believable and complicated. It’s really great. And then to be on set with her, I think it just raises the caliber for everybody.
Question: What did they tell you during the audition process as far as whether or not David would be dead. Did you find out then and how did that affect the way you prepared for the role?
N. Bean: Yes, I knew even before. The first thing I did was get the script. And the script that I got there was some slight changes from the earliest draft that I got before I auditioned. But David was definitely dead in the bathtub in the end. So it was a slight disappointment, but at the same, it’s just so cool to be kind of a lynchpin in this story. And to as the season will go on, I think we’re going to get closer and closer to that moment and what happened and why it happened and who did it, to know that you would be kind of a real intricate part was exciting and more, so than maybe the disappointment of knowing that your days are numbered.
One of our executive producers Todd Kessler. He used to work on the Sopranos for a few seasons and he was saying that all those actors were dreading the call when they would get—their character was going to get whacked next week or something. He said, “You know what, you don’t got anything to worry about because you already got the call when you signed up for the job.” I don’t have anything to worry about. I know my fate is sealed, but how it’s going to happen and how long I’ll be around it’s still sort of a mystery to me and all of us over there.
Question: I was wondering, now that the show is doing well, I mean the first episode had 3.7 million viewers and at this week’s was listed as the most watched basic cable program of the night. I was wondering what the feelings like on the set now that you know it’s doing well, is there a kind of sigh of relief or…
N. Bean: Totally. Yes, I shot a scene yesterday with Rose because we actually took a week off after the premier week we had that week off from shooting. So we just all came back to work on Monday and I went in yesterday for the first time and it was great. Everybody was congratulating everybody and it was sort of kind of high fives. And I think because it is so exciting now that we actually went up from the pilot, which seemed sort of rare.
Everybody is just totally thrilled and I think we were working hard before, but now I think everybody’s even more jazzed and excited and really happy to be there. So it’s great. It’s a great feeling because you’re kind of working in a bubble for so long and then finally when it comes out and for it to be, for people to like it and to be catching on is a great feeling.
Question: I was wondering how have you been preparing for a role like this, one in a series that operates at two different points in time in which your character has been murdered?
N. Bean: Right. Do you mean like the preparing of how to sort of deal with those two worlds or whatever?
As an actor.
N. Bean: Well I think that we sort of, preparing wise, we went into it and not knowing where it was going to go and our producers are very tight lipped even with us on what’s going to happen in the next episode. And we don’t really get the scripts even until the last minute. And a lot of times we’re begging them to try to—I’ve been begging them to tell me who did it to me and why and everything like that. I can’t get anything out of them.
We’re in episode seven, so we definitely do know a bit more than the rest of America, but you just got to play every scene for the scene. And it’s fascinating because then you know the next week, you might find out that you were lying in that scene. Or that suddenly something is revealed that with all the Katie Connor stuff that I think none of us really knew what was—and that’s going to continue on in the next few weeks of it getting more complicated and more things revealed that none of us had any idea.
It’s a lot like life. You kind of go along and then all of a sudden, something is revealed and you could be suddenly playing a different tactic or different motive. It’s like taking it one day at a time. And our producers will tell us just enough to get us to where we need to be for that scene, but it’s exciting. We’re finding out new things just like the rest of everybody else.
What was your reaction like when you read that Glenn Close is holding a dog collar because it shocks all of us and wondering as an actor…
N. Bean: Yes, I loved it. I thought it was great. I mean it’s such a cool—the first time I read the script, I had no idea. But she does that and then I feel like she’s every couple minutes all of a sudden, it’s a new thing. You think she’s this brave kind of—this woman is out there to save these people and then all of a sudden, you think wait minute what are her real motives behind this? And then all of a sudden, she’s a loving mother and another second, she’s killing dogs. And it’s like constantly you never know where you’re standing.
But the great thing about Glenn is that there’s something so appealing about her and you do, you’re terrified of her and you’re fascinated and kind of love her at the same time, which is just her brilliance. And it’s in writing, these guys are and all the characters as we go on, I think there’s going to be lots of surprises for everybody. And it’s everybody’s morals are tested quite a few times in this world and because it’s big business and big money and powerful people and things—it gets dangerous.
Question: Ted Danson does a complete 180 on his typical jovial or his normal TV persona with Frobisher. I just wanted to get your thoughts about working with Ted Danson and seeing him as an actor from your eyes just kind of in habit this role of such a corporate heavy like a Ken Lay type person? Just to get your opinions about Ted Danson and maybe Tate Donovan and some of the other actors along with the female stars.
N. Bean: I think Ted is unbelievable. I just think he’s so good. I just rewatched the second episode last night and he is so darn good. I mean his part. I mean it’s really—because I grew up watching like everybody Cheers and Sam Malone. And the great thing about him is he keeps that humor, he keeps that sort of great likeability that he had in Cheers and everything like that. But this is a completely different side of him. The stuff that he’s going to be doing in the future is just fantastic and fascinating and complicated.
Because the great thing that a writer sits on is they put these people in these really difficult situations and see how they react. I love the scene when he kind of says in the second episode and he doesn’t want to take Katie out. And then they choose to put him in the back of that car with the hooker doing coke and that’s when he makes the decision. It’s sort of fascinating. And, of course, that’s not the best place to make a decision to end somebody’s life.
Yes, I think it’s great and I think it really humanizes those people, like those Ken Lays and stuff like that that we see in the newspaper. You see these kind of stuffy guys and it’s really we don’t really understand them as people, as men. I think that Ted has really kind of flushed out this really fascinating character that is flawed and powerful and fused and has morals at the same time as being a really kind of scary guy. I think it’s just a really—it’s a character that I’ve never really seen before and I think Ted is just knocking it out of the park and is going to keep doing some really cool things as the season goes on.
Has he done theatre? Would he be someone that you’d want to do theatre with or work in film with to continue some sort of creative collaboration in the future?
N. Bean: If Ted Danson wanted to go to a bar a sing show tunes, I would do it with him. Whatever that guy wanted to do with me, I would do it. He’s great. He’s fantastic, just such a cool guy and nice guy and genuine. And he’s excited I think to be doing this. I think he knows that this is—I think he’s really excited by this character and to see what’s going to happen next.
Question: What about his attorney, Zeljko Ivanek?
N. Bean: He’s one of my favorite actors. He’s actually a great New York stage actor. He’s one of those guys you see him in everything, almost every movie he’s got some part in. I’ve known sort of him and watching his work since I moved to the city, New York, in 2000. And we worked together up at this place in Williamstown Cedar Festival doing stuff, plays. And he was actually—when he had signed onto the project before me and when I found out that Zeljko was a part of it.
He was actually who I was the most excited about like the potential of working with just because I’ve been watching him on stage for so long and love his work. He’s so fascinating, complicated and spooky and a really cool guy. He’s great. He’s a true artist and a really just an all around actor. I mean he does television and stage and film constantly and he writes. He does everything. He’s a real inspiration and I’m just glad to—we’ve been hanging out and really glad to sort have him as sort of friend now. It’s great.
It doesn’t sound like you’re going to be moving to Los Angeles any time soon.
N. Bean: Me? Well, we’ll see. We’ll see what happens at the end of the season. But I love it here because of theatre, I’ve been trying to keep that as a big part of my career and of my life. But now getting involved in a project like this, I’m happy to not be going to the theatre eight times a week and this is a great—I’m completely happy and satisfied right now. But I don’t know, we’ll see. See what happens.
Question: I know you’ve said that you don’t really know too much of what’s going to happen. But since you have shot more episodes than we’ve seen, are there any hints that you can give us?
N. Bean: It’s going to be totally unexpected. I don’t know. They’ve given us strong warnings to not give away too much. But I’m trying to think of what’s happened up to II. But as far as David’s concerned, my character, I think that David gets a little—I get a little more flushed out in the next, especially into IV and V and VI. I think that Ellen and David, Rose and I, we, our relationship, they’ve started us at this very kind of—we’re this young happy couple and this kind of power couple, a doctor and a lawyer.
And it could be a little vanilla at times, but we definitely get tested, both individually and in our relationship. And things get a little more tense as the landscape of the whole story gets more complicated and more dangerous as the episodes move on, which I have been very happy to have us. And I get put into some of those—where David is kind of the one kind of more black and white and wrong where all these characters sort of live in the grey zone.
They’ve definitely brought David into as it goes on, I guess, into some more precarious situations and obviously, I end up in some life threatening situations as the season goes on because we all know what happens. But yes, it’s interesting. There’s going to be some really cool stuff that happens. It’s amazing.
I have to go back and reread scripts, too, because it does get so complicated. There’s going to be some new people that come into the folds and that have some links to the whole situation with Frobisher and everybody and it gets really complicated. I’m having to go back and reread and be like wait a minute. Wait. Where did they meet? What did they see? What did they tell? Are they lying? Are they not lying? I’m just glad people love it because it’s amazing.
I was watching the first two episodes with some friends here and I almost forgot that I was in it. I was totally engrossed in it and it’s a really fun who done it. And there’s going to be lots of opinions I think and question marks as it goes on. And then slowly things start to get answered. But, I don’t know. I sort of gave you nothing there, but maybe I gave you a little something. I don’t know. Why would you want to know? It will be more fun if you don’t know. But it takes some time. Certain things will get revealed, but a lot of things, they really kind of—just get so complicated that it really takes time to understand why certain things have happened. And those two time lines do continue to stay, that sort of six months earlier where the bulk of the show is. And then the flash forwards with Ellen being with the police and all that and dealing with the post David’s murder. And in both of those worlds, things start to link up and get revealed. So I hope that helps a little bit.
Being that it’s such an intense show, what’s the atmosphere on the show? Do you guys have fun or are you feel serious all the time? What is it like there?
N. Bean: Yes, we definitely have some fun. It’s become like a little family over there. We shoot over in Brooklyn. We shoot at the Steiner Studios and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. We’re kind of in this little—it’s like a little place onto itself. There’s no subways that go over there. There’s no like—kind of right out on the Brooklyn waterfront. So we’re kind of all out there by ourselves and it’s great, though. There’s definitely when it’s time for business, it’s a really good focused set.
All of directors have been fantastic. We’ve had different directors for every episode and all them have come in and really jazzed up the focus and really work and want to do some really cool things. Because that’s one thing that stays with the show … they’re just doing a fantastically cinematography. They’re doing some really cool camera work and that really stays. And I think these directors are coming in there are just really excited to be able do some really cool work that you don’t always see on television, stuff that really looks like movies.
It’s good, but we have a lot of fun over there, too. Glenn is fantastic. We’ve become really good friends. Rose and I’ve have become great friends. Rose, of course, just moved to New York for the series, but we’ve become great friends and hang out all the time. So, it’s been great, but it’s also people are there that we’re doing some really long days over there. So people are definitely focused and wanting to do good work and get it done. But we have fun.
Question: You mentioned having fun on the set. What kind of fun?
N. Bean: We’ve got a great crew. We don’t do too many—there’s one barbecue over there we had—you know in the KZK’s as we call them, the Glenn and Todd Kessler and Dan Zelman. I mean they’re working there butts off. I don’t know if those guys have slept in the past year. But they are also cool guys and they like to laugh and have a good time not a lot of practical joking going on over there. But their premier was great. We had this really cool premier the Thursday before the first episode aired. So we all went out and had a great night on the town that night. It’s like it’s turned into like a little family over there.
Is there difference working on an L.A. set versus a New York set?
N. Bean: You know, actually I was just in L.A. last week and I visited the set of Dirty Sexy Money, do you know that’s a new show? They were doing some reshoots and so I’ve got some friends, Seth Gable who’s on that, he’s a friend of mine and actually this guy Jack Bender, who’s a director. He’s directing I think the second episode and he’s a good friend. And I went over and checked out the set for a little bit and it was—they shoot on the Paramount lot out there and it did have a slightly different vibe. And it was a little bit more—there was this kind of more people around. I don’t know if that’s a difference between New York and LA, but there’s definitely more people.
They’re a different kind of show, so there was a little bit of a lighter kind of feel, there was a little bit more of a—the energy was a little bit more jovial maybe. Because their subject matter is a little bit lighter I think and they’ve got a lot of comedy in their thing, but I don’t know.
I love shooting in New York. I think the best thing about shooting in New York is we shoot on location, so we get to shoot all over the city in these great places and that’s the best. New Yorkers are also great because they don’t give a darn about anything, sort of. So you’re out there shooting in the Village or whatever and there’s a couple people watching, but it’s a blast.
Question: What’s your favorite TV show of all time?
N. Bean: Of all time? I’m ashamed to say that I actually don’t have cable, which is just totally—I know that it’s awful and ridiculous. I don’t even get FX, which that’s one sight that we’re airing on my network now. In New York it’s channel 9, because I get that channel. Because I plug my TV into the wall and I get like ABC, NBC, CBS and I get channel 9. So now I can watch my own show, which is awesome. But of all time, I would probably say The Muppet Show.
Question: Noah, with articles that come out of this interview, you’re potentially going to get exposure to a few million people who may or may not have heard of you before and who may or may not be watching Damages. Given that you have that platform, is there anything you’d like to tell people about Noah Bean? And what can you say about Damages that might bring in people that aren’t already watching it?
N. Bean: I am absolutely terrified now. Tell them about Noah Bean? I don’t know, man. I think I am, like you said, this is the highest profile thing that I’ve ever been fortune to be involved in and I am psyched and I’m really excited and thrilled to be a part of this. I love the show. It’s a blast to be shooting this thing. It’s a thrill ride to watch and it’s just as exciting to be making it, be involved in it. I’m excited for the season and I hope there’s plenty more to come. Whether or not I’m a part of those seasons, we’ll wait and see.
Even if not, I think that hopefully I would just love to stay involved in projects of this caliber and that are this just kind of writing that is as good as this and with a cast that is as good as this and creators and directors. I’m excited and I’m just so thrilled that people are getting hooked to the show as much as I am right now. Hopefully, people will be seeing more of me I hope beyond the season. I’m excited.
So have you had anybody recognize you yet from your work on the show just walking down the street or anything?
N. Bean: I had the first, a bartender actually the other day. I was at this place called the Beatrice Inn in the West Village of New York and the bartender recognized me. “I saw you get killed the other day,” which is pretty cool. And he said he’s been seeing me on the show and he likes it. I don’t know. I haven’t gotten too many.
I actually asked Rose that last night because she’s obviously—you’ve seen the poster and Glenn Close is falling out of her forehead. So I asked her if she’s been recognized and she actually said no, but I thought maybe it was that she’s got her head split wide open. Not many. But I don’t know, New York is probably a little different. I think that people kind of—even if someone did recognize me, I don’t know if they’d really care enough to tell you.
Question: So, obviously Damages is first things first, but are there are other things that you’re involved in, or are looking to get involved in both small screen and big screen and also theatre? Are you going to head up to the Williamstown theatre festival with Roger Rees soon?
N. Bean: Yes. You know the festival. That’s great. Well I can’t this summer because we’re shooting until beginning of October. I haven’t been. I’m busy with this, so not this summer, but hopefully maybe next summer.
I’ve actually got a theatre company in New York called Stage 13 with some other fellow actors. I’ve seen another actor named Dan Fogler, I don’t know if you know who that is. He’s got like a bunch of movies coming out, this movie Balls of Fury and Good Luck Chuck. He’s got like a whole bunch of movies that are about to come out. He does really, really funny, unbelievably talented guy. So he and I and few other actors and some directors and playwrights and filmmakers have the company called Stage 13.
That’s been sort of feeding my theatre habit for awhile because we do lots of readings. We’re actually searching for another spring show right now. My involvement sort of been on the producing side right now while I’m doing this. But that’s been very good to have that around and keep the creative juices flowing. We did an all-star rated show last fall. And we did all the series over at the Atlantic Theatre, which is David Mamet’s theatre company. We did some stuff work over there and so for now we’ve been sort of bumping around which is kind of the norm for not doing off-off and off-Broadway stuff. Because it’s just really so expensive in the city, that it’s easier to rent. But we’ve got a loft in Tribeca that one of our company members own that we use for a lot of like workshop stuff, stuff like that.
And other than that nothings really on the books for now because I’m just starting to now probably going for more things because like I said, we shoot until the beginning of October. So casting wise, things are starting to heat up a little bit for that time, about two months before that when things will start casting films. That’s what I’m really looking for hopefully in that time is to hopefully get involved in some kind of film or something like that.
Thank you so much, everybody. It was a blast. Thanks for the questions.