USA’s series In Plain Sight is back for another season. This season is all about change, and oh what big changes they will be. PCM chatted with the show’s stars Mary McCormick and Fred Weller about all the big events occurring this season, including a surprise pregnancy!
Mary, what do you continue to enjoy most about playing your character?
Mary McCormack: What do I enjoy most? I think – I don’t know, I just love the character. I mean, David Maples, who created the show, just wrote a really great part. I mean Fred’s part is great too, and so is Paul Ben-Victor’s. I mean he just really wrote some three-dimensional characters. I mean I love them.
I love that Mary Shannon’s really good at her job and not so good at her personal life. I like that she’s cynical and sarcastic. It’s fun – it’s just fun to play someone so grouchy. It’s sort of refreshing. I can be a little bit grouchy myself so it’s a comfortable fit.
Can you tell us how your pregnancy will be worked into the storyline?
Mary McCormack: Well, we’re writing it in. I mean we’re writing it in and I’m playing pregnant. I mean I had a – I did what I had to do to get pregnant first. And then – and now we’re dealing with it.
I mean Mary Shannon’s not a, you know, you don’t think of her as necessarily maternal so it’s making for some interesting story stuff and character stuff, which I think is really fun to play. And also I think it’s – I mean to me I think it’s really interesting to see someone play pregnant who is pregnant. And because it’s, you know, it’s not altogether as pretty as when someone, you know, all chiseled up does it.
So it’s, I think refreshing, at least as a woman I find it refreshing to sort of see someone who’s dealing with – you know, someone who’s passionate about their career and then having to try to make – come to terms with, you know this new area in her life, which women I think deal with – you know, all women deal with, so.
And how is Marshall going to deal with the pregnancy?
Fred Weller: I think Marshall has a pregnancy fetish, but they haven’t written that in yet, that I know of.
Mary McCormack: I love it. You know, you better tell the writers if you want that written.
Fred, wanted to ask you, like Mary stated earlier, you do get a love-line, like love story this season. How does that change the dynamic between Marshall and Mary?
Fred Weller: Well, Marshall’s feelings are now inevitably more submerged — his feelings for Mary. They’re more submerged, like underground lava or tunneling Viet Kong. They are more dangerous.
Mary McCormack: Oh my God, I want to throw up.
Fred Weller: They’re more dangerous there. I mean, I didn’t have anything prepared, but that’s what I would say.
Mary, like you said, “This is a season of change,” but your character doesn’t really seem to be a fan of change.
Mary McCormack: No, she hates that.
She hates that. So what can we expect from her emotionally through the season?
Mary McCormack: Well I think she’s sort of confused. I mean I think she keeps expecting – like in the first episode you see her expecting her sister to fall right into old patterns and it turns out she really hasn’t.
So you know, that sort of starts the – it sort of kicks off the theme of, you know what – she just doesn’t – it’s one of those things, I think you know, if your whole life is spent taking care of other people, and then those other people randomly either get sober or learn how to take care of themselves, you know you sort of – I think her identity’s in question.
I mean a big part of her is sort of walking around feeling sort of smug and proud of herself for being the only adult in the room and now she’s not the only adult in the room. So I think it’s – I don’t know, I think it’s interesting. I mean for her it’s a bit of a – you know, a – it’s a big shift.
And now on top of it she’s becoming the one thing she never wanted to be, which is a mother. So we’ll see. I don’t know what they have in store. I don’t know how it’s going to – I don’t know if she – I don’t know. I mean I’m sort of only halfway through the season. And these poor writers, I only told them I was pregnant a few episodes in, so they’re scrambling. But it should be exciting.
This is, you know, the fourth season, that’s no small feat. What do you think it is about the show that keeps viewers coming back?
Fred Weller: Boy, well I mean it’s – I think it’s a great drama with a sense of humor. And I don’t think that’s a very common combination on television.
Mary McCormack: Yes, I also think, I mean to me, I do I think like I think you know, something USA does really well is character stuff. And I think our show, even if you didn’t – weren’t interested in sort of the procedural side of it, or the witness protection side of it, I think the character relationships are really rich and fresh and funny.
I mean I think I could watch – you know, I love reading the scenes between me and Fred or I love Paul Ben-Victor’s character so much. And so I think that’s a big part of it. But I also do think it makes – witness protection just makes for exciting stories and it’s a really rich sort of place to grab stories from. I mean people starting over completely, saying goodbye to their lives before, I mean it’s just, you know, it just doesn’t get – it never ends in terms of opportunity – story opportunities.
In Plain Sight cut short last season, are there any unfinished story lines that you might incorporate for this season, such as Allison Janney’s character, the return of Mary’s brother or even — although Marshall does have his girlfriend — his former feelings for Mary?
Mary McCormack: That is a really good question and we have new show runners this year, so it’s a bit confusing. And I don’t hear – I haven’t heard any mention of the brother coming back this season. Although everyone was a big fan of that actor’s work, he was – I mean, I thought he was sensational.
So – and we do mention him this season. I don’t know if he’s plan – I don’t know if there’s a plan to have him back later in the season. I’m not 100%. But hopefully we’ll have him back eventually if not this season, next season, because he was sensational.
Allison Janney I know is busy unfortunately on another TV show right now. But you know, I will always – she’s one of my best girlfriends in the world, so I will call her once a week to harass her. See what we can do, and then…
Fred Weller: We’ll never leave them.
Mary McCormack: We’ll never leave them.
Fred Weller: The lover deprived.
Mary McCormack: It’s always there, and this season it is interesting because all the sudden I’m pregnant which is confusing in terms of I think our feelings for each other. And then there’s also his new relationship which throws a wrench in it.
And you sort of see all the stuff percolating along the way. We don’t – we never leave that story all together, because it’s just there. It’s in their friendship
Now, what is it about Mary and Marshall that you can relate to the most and why?
Fred Weller: I guess Marshall’s fondness for Mary, because she is so intriguing and beautiful.
Mary McCormack: Oh my gosh, I didn’t see that coming.
Fred Weller: Yes, well I – whenever I can talk first I like to throw you for a loop so you can’t say something…
Mary McCormack: I love the relationship between Marshall and Mary. It’s a great – and we have a lot of fun with it, Fred and I. I mean Fred and I aren’t too far from our characters.
And so it’s – I mean we – we’re – yes, I don’t know, we just have a good time. We should hate each other by Season 4, and we love each other. So we have a really good day at work, when we get to work together.
Can’t shake the feeling sometimes that if In Plain Sight had been made in the ’80s, Mary’s role would have been played by a guy and Marshall would have been the sidekick in the skirt. Do you agree?
Mary McCormack: It’s true. I think it is true. It’s one of the refreshing things about the show David Maples created, is that none of the characters are really what – you know, everyone’s a surprise.
I mean in the first season he had this black detective who had a line where he said, “Detective (Dirshuitz),” and we all looked at each other like, “Huh?”
And then you know, Stan – I think Stan’s character’s a total surprise. Because usually the boss on cop shows is like, “You have one day to close this case or you’re fired.” You know, and he’s not that guy at all, he sort of has no control. And Mary Shannon acts like a man in many, many ways and Marshall’s completely girly — just kidding.
Do you get much input in shaping the characters with the writers at this point?
Mary McCormack: We do. They’re really sweet. I mean I have to say, I met with John and Ed yesterday and I was thanking them for that because they’ve been really – you know, Fred and I have been there since the beginning. And so we do feel a responsibility to the show and the voices of the characters.
And John and Ed are really collaborative and said, “You know, it’s going to be a learning curve.” You know, when you’re writing someone else’s show. If you created the show – I mean if David were to write it, he could write it in his sleep. But for any other writer there’s a little bit more work involved, in terms of getting to know the characters and then, you know, and then writing for them.
But they’re doing great. And they’re really collaborative. And if I call and say, “I’m not sure she’d say this, but it might be this,” they’re just completely on-board with making changes, which is great.
Do you have any dream scenarios for Mary and/or Marshall to – that something as an actor you’d just love to play?
Fred Weller: Wow, well I would like to see some kind of – every season I’d like to see a payoff on Mary’s father search. I think that’s a great subplot. Personally I’d like to see some payoff every season on Marshall’s feelings for Mary, which is of course, those are…
Mary McCormack: Striving.
Fred Weller: …those feelings are really interesting in this season with the…
Mary McCormack: Yes.
Fred Weller: …my girlfriend and her pregnancy.
Mary McCormack: I agree.
If you guys had the choice to do a crossover, would – what would be the show that you would like to see crossover with?
Mary McCormack: If it’s a USA show I would do Psych.
Fred Weller: I’d have to say 30 Rock because that is my favorite show on television besides In Plain Sight. It’s an amazing show.
What are some of the interesting things you’ve discovered about Marshall over the course of playing him for three seasons?
Fred Weller: Well gosh, I once gave a really long-winded answer to this and I’ve been trying to keep it short. I think that he’s a romantic. And I think that he looks at himself and Mary kind of like that famous (Isaiah Berlin) essay about Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, about the two – the humanities divided into the foxes and the hedgehogs. And I think he thinks of himself as a hedgehog and Mary as a fox.