Are you having fun trading quips with Broadway greats like Sam Waterston and Jeff Daniels in The Newsroom?
It’s a tremendous group of actors, and they make it feel not quite like going to work. It feels like going to the playground, and they’re a lot of fun to play with.
You’re part of what we’ve dubbed a “Tony love triangle” with Alison Pill and Thomas Sadoski. Did you know one another?
Alison and I have known each other for 10 years. We did an independent movie together called Pieces of April [released in 2003] in which we played brother and sister, so it’s funny to me that we are playing prospective love interests. I had met Tom Sadoski several times through mutual friends and had seen him onstage; it’s great to feel like there is this community that exists in New York, and all of a sudden we all found ourselves on a soundstage in L.A. filming this television show!
You’ve played your share of messed-up characters on stage. Is it a relief to play a normal, contemporary guy?
One of the things I love about my character is that Jim is a consummate professional when it comes to the workplace—he’s a multitasker, he’s a news geek who sleeps and breathes the news—but because he has funneled all of his care and time into his work, his personal life suffers. He’s not the suavest guy when it comes to the ladies! [Laughs.] I was really interested in the fact that this guy is so brilliant in one area of his life and such a novice when it comes to basic social skills and day-to-day interactions.
Aaron Sorkin’s new HBO series, “The Newsroom,” has received a lot of Internet praise and criticism since its Sunday premiere. Some have said that “The Newsroom” revises recent history with a liberal slant, but star Emily Mortimer, who plays veteran news producer Mackenzie MacHale, defended the show as a fictional drama.
She told ABC News Radio, “Those moments like the BP oil spill, like the Gabby Giffords shooting, like the Arab Spring, all these things, they were images on our television that at the time were very dramatic images that we didn’t necessarily have time to think about and contextualize and ponder over, and there’s something very cool about being given the opportunity to do that.”
Mortimer said she hasn’t heard if HBO will renew the show for a second season but said, “I’m keeping my fingers crossed and I’m hoping it’s going to be good news and we’ll know very soon.”
“The fact that everyone is talking about it, for whatever reason: challenged by it; disturbed by it; annoyed by it; loving it; can’t wait to see the next one — all of the above, we absolutely love it.”
Jeff Daniels is speaking of the new HBO drama “The Newsroom,” in which he stars as insufferable newscaster Will McAvoy, and he wants you to know he’s undaunted by the commotion the Aaron Sorkin series has stirred up since its premiere last Sunday.
The workplace drama marks Sorkin’s first new TV series in nearly six years — with past shows including NBC’s hit “The West Wing” and the short-lived “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” The premiere of “The Newsroom” drew a solid 2.1 million viewers, but reception for the series has been less than warm.
“The fact that it’s blown up, the fact that people love it and that people hate it — that people are just screaming at Sorkin and getting bent out of shape about this, that and the other thing — it’s great,” Daniels told The Times on Tuesday by phone. “What we love, believe it or not, is that people are talking about it.”
THR: What — or who — inspired the character that you play?
Thomas Sadoski: The script. It’s all there on the page and when you work with extraordinary actors and (the) extraordinary writer, directors and production staff and crew that that we have, the inspiration is coming from so many different angles. In terms of basing the character on anybody in particular, my sort of thinking was Anthony Bourdain, who I’m a big fan of. I wanted to take some of Anthony’s swagger and sort of no-bullshit approach to life and see if I could take some small semblance of that and put it into Don.
Emily Mortimer: I went and did a little bit of research at CNN and my girlfriend, whom I’ve known for many years, is now an EP in London, and I talked to her a lot. And I’ve realized from doing that that the thing that was concerning me was like, s–t, I have to order a lot of people around a newsroom and I’ve never been in control of anything in my life. I don’t know how to do that. I get shy asking people to make the barbeque a half an hour earlier or whatever, so to do that was a stretch. But then I realized that these people are doing a vocational job – you don’t get rich and famous by producing the news. And so they’re in it because they’re passionate about it, because they’re obsessed with it and that was my inspiration. Then I was like, “Ok, if there is a toughness or whatever, it’s not being tough for the sake of it, it’s because you just care so ferociously about what you’re doing and you want it to be right.”
THR: What kind of research did you do for the role?
Sadoski: I’d love to tell you that I’ve done a ton of research but I didn’t. I didn’t have time. I was doing a play on Broadway right up until two days before we started shooting — with [co-star] Alison Pill, actually. And I got here and I just said to [producers] Greg Mottola and Alan Poul, “I’m throwing myself entirely at your mercy. You guys trailed and did all of this research, you just tell me where I’m going wrong and I’ll trust you guys.” And it worked out really well, I think.
Nearly 3 million people caught the launch of Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” Sunday, including 2.1 million for its 10 p.m. premiere which puts it among some of HBO’s most watched recent premieres, including “Game of Thrones” (2.2 million) in April of 2010, and “True Blood” (1.4 million) in September of ’08.
HBO’s biggest premiere since 2008: “Boardwalk Empire” (4.8 million viewers) in September of ’10.
Starting Monday, HBO made the first episode of its pretty panned new drama “The Newsroom” available for free to non-subscribers, on HBO.com, YouTube, DailyMotion, TV.com, on various free on-demand platforms, and on iTunes.
I’ve added over 1600 HQ screencaps to the Newsroom Fan Gallery from the pilot episode, “We Just Decided To”