John Corbett Talks Life in the United States of Tara a Decade After Sex and the City
It's been a monumental week for John Corbett. On Monday, the (far superior) second season of his Showtime drama United States of Tara premiered to numbers so impressive that the premium cabler has already ordered a third season. Meanwhile, the actor best known as Carrie Bradshaw's lost-love Aidan lied to Movieline about his involvement in the Sex and the City 2 movie. When an official trailer for the franchise's second film revealed a (gasp!) coincidental desert rendez-vous between Carrie and her former furniture designer beau, Corbett took to the Ellen DeGeneres Show to apologize to the journalists he had thwarted over the past few months. Apology reluctantly accepted.
Corbett talked about subjects other than the Sex and the City 2 movie when he spoke to Movieline recently though -- like being intimidated by Diablo Cody on the set of United States of Tara, his behind-the-scenes pet peeve and that Sex and the City whiskey buddy of his.
Despite Tara's revolving door of personalities, there is a sense of normalcy in the Gregson household, which can be credited to your character Max. Viewers who maybe aren't familiar with dissociative identity disorder can identify with Max, who is just trying to care for Tara and understand her condition. Did you feel pressure going into the first season knowing that your character was really the anchor of the family?
Well, I didn't know that or feel that, but thanks for saying that. I read a lot of reviews and nobody has ever put it like that so thanks for saying that. I never felt like I was the anchor, do you really think I am the anchor?
I do. Every person in that household is on a pretty tumultuous ride but Max doesn't have the luxury of resigning control. Tara, even on meds, struggles with her DID, Kate and Marshall are just trying to figure out who they are in life -- Marshall especially with his sexuality. Max is the rock -- I also think that the fact Max doesn't speak in as many snappy soundbites makes him more relatable to viewers.
Yeah, yeah. Well, Diablo is a great friend and she's on the set all the time. I think from the very beginning, I think I -- some of the dialogue is really snappy and it worked for the kids but I am not sure it worked for me. I remember asking her a couple of things early on, which was really intimidating. She had just won the Oscar and we started to do our show. If somebody wins an Oscar, they are just automatically at the top of their game. It doesn't get any better than that. Then you get this script and this character becomes sort of your property too. When we read that script, I started thinking that Max was all mine. You get protective of that and I remember early on, I had to go up to Diablo the first day we were shooting the pilot and I kind of said, "You know, instead of Max saying this entire paragraph, he could just say the first sentence and it would have the same effect."
And she just said, "Yeah, yeah, sure, whatever you want." [Laughs] And it was just like, "Thank you!" She let me off the hook because she understood that I would be able to convey it a bit better without a mouth full of marbles and we have had that kind of relationship ever since. I think she has really great dialogue but I think she saw where I was going to come from and she keeps my stuff really to the point and short. I never
say too much, let's put it that way. Max never says too much I mean.
Why do you think Max and Tara's relationship works out so well? How can Max -- or anyone -- be that patient?
Well, I think Max is a little more worn out this go around. Last season, he kind of let things just roll off his back. And I think Diablo has really listened to people talk about the show. I know that I have. I had a man come up to me on the street once and say, "Hey, I can't believe you are so patient. If that were me, if that were my wife, I wouldn't be able to handle it." So I think the writers address that in the second season. I really had a lot of fun hanging out with Toni and the kids and everybody this season and my character was able to get mad at Tara and stuff like that. I got to have a fight this season and use a little more of my sense of humor.
I actually saw a clip from the fight. It was gratifying as a viewer to finally see Max release all of that pent-up anger...even if it happened at a kid's birthday party.
Yeah. It was fun doing that fight but we f*cking fought for a couple hours out there. At one point, the director didn't know how graphic he wanted to be with Max beating the sh*t out of someone so they put a cameraman in that inflatable fun house and just had him jumping up and down so the whole fight was going to be from the perspective of the kids. If they had used that, they would have missed a lot of the action through the fence and I was bummed when they said they might shoot it that way. I've done that bullsh*t before, where you work hard on something and spend a half a day doing it and then it f*cking gets cut out. Then, the next day you go to work and you think, "I am not going to work that hard on this next thing because it's just going to get cut out."
The other day, Diablo Cody told an interviewer that she wasn't happy with the first season of the show. Did you feel the same way when you watched the first season?
No, because I love everyone that works on that show -- every actor, all the extras and even the guy who sweeps up our studio. I spend a lot of time with these people. You get to know them and you know their wives and you get along with everybody so when I see the show, I see it differently than a viewer does. I see a little prop on the table that I know our prop guy put there for some reason and I know how hard our sound guys work.
In a scene like Max's fight, viewers might just see some punches being thrown but what they don't realize is that the actors are taking off watches and taping down necklaces so they don't rattle and mess up the sound. So at the end of watching an episode and seeing Toni kicking ass and turning in another really great performance, I just feel proud. Everyone on that show is like a kid to me and everyone thinks their kids are the best. That's how I feel about everyone working on Tara.
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