Thursday, September 18, 2014

AV Club: Tim Daly on Madam Secretary

The actor: Tim Daly began his on-camera acting career at a young age, thanks in no small part to his father, James Daly (Medical Center), but it wasn’t until high school that he decided that he wanted to pursue it as an actual career. Despite a preference for the theater, Daly got his big-screen break with Diner, but he’s continued to find his most significant successes on the small screen, first withWings, then with Private Practice. Currently, Daly can be found in the new CBS drama, Madam Secretary, playing Téa Leoni’s significant other.
Madam Secretary (2014-present)—“Henry McCord”

Tim Daly: What I love about Henry McCord is that he is confident enough and powerful enough to be perfectly comfortable in a dynamic marriage with a woman who’s as powerful as he is at home and more powerful than he is outside the home.

The A.V. Club: How did you find your way onto the series? Did they come looking for you, or were you looking for a full-time gig?
TD: No, what happened was that the script was sent to me and—I think they were, frankly, thrilled that I was interested in it, because they like me and I like them. I know Barbara [Hall], I was a fan of Téa’s, and obviously Morgan Freeman was involved [as an executive producer]. But I read it, and, you know, I needed to meet with Barbara, because the fear about something like this is that you become the male version of what we’ve become too accustomed to on television for decades, which is the supportive wife, right? And I didn’t want to be the supportive wife, only with a penis.

But that’s not what this role is or what it will be, by any stretch of the imagination. Like an onion, Henry will have many layers that will be peeled back over the course of this series. We’ll learn a lot more about him. But I just liked him. Also, I loved that this was an opportunity to do something that, sadly, has become rare on television, which is to represent a really dynamic, vital marriage that’s working, that’s complicated and difficult, but you get the sense that these people are passionately, fiercely committed to making it work out. Despite all the complexities and troubles that may befall them, they’re going to have it be workable. And that’s good, because I do think it exists, despite the fact that, on TV, all the marriages are going to shit.

AVC: Off the top of your head, are there any past TV marriages that you’d liken to the one between Henry and Elizabeth?

TD: You know, I will say one marriage that I’ll liken it to, and this is going to be interesting, but—I was thinking about the marriage that was depicted in the TV show that my sister [Tyne Daly] did—Cagney & Lacey. Mary Beth Lacey and Harvey had a great marriage. They had a lot of conflict, but they were in it, and they weren’t going anyplace. This is obviously very different, but as a loose generalization, I would say that one.

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