Married Interview With Nat Faxon & Judy Greer
We were part of a press interview with the stars of FX’s new comedy, Married, Nat Faxon, who plays “Russ,” and Judy Greer, who plays “Lina.” Below, an edited version of that conversation.
Can you both talk about how you got started in the project?
Nat Sure. I met with Andrew Gurland, the creator of the show. I don’t even remember when, a while back, and we had a really nice lunch and sort of got to know each other. I think initially you’re just sort of picking up on each other’s vibe and beyond just the material and the show I think you’re wondering whether you’re going to be spending a lot of intense time together and whether you’re going to be excited for that or dreading that.
Luckily with Andrew it was excitement, and the next step for me was to audition. I am not at the mega superstar level that Judy Greer is so I had to audition for the part. And then it worked out and then Judy came aboard after that knowing that she had this eye candy to star with.
Judy That’s totally true. Nat was already attached to the project and once I read the script, had my lunch with Andrew, knew that I could stand to be in the same room with him all day every day for many months, yes, then I decided definitely I had to be in it.
What do you think makes it fit with the FX brand or do you even think about that?
Judy I’ve definitely thought about that because FX is—or the fact that this show was going to be on FX was one of the main reasons I wanted to do it, and I think it does fit with the brand. I think it’s a little raw. It’s actually pretty raw. It’s very edgy and funny, and it doesn’t really seem to get all tied up with a nice pretty bow at the end of every episode, which I really like.
Judy, we’ve seen you over the years cast in, what we would call the best friend role a number of times, but you have a ton of projects that are either coming up or that have just happened, like Planet of the Apes just came out. Obviously you have Married where you’re front and center. You’re in Jurassic World next summer. For you, stepping into these bigger roles now, do you feel any added pressure to perform or be at the top of your game or does this feel like just a natural progression of your career?
Judy I didn’t until you asked that question. Now I definitely do. No, I don’t feel much pressure. I don’t know, the roles I’m playing feel really—they’re comfortable for me. I feel like I’m not—maybe the size of them is getting bigger, but I’m still feeling like myself playing them, which is important to me. I don’t know, I just think—I guess that’s a dumb answer, but yes, I feel like I’m excited about being in Married and not just because I have a bigger role in it but I think that I’m getting offered really cool roles right now. I’m excited for the challenge.
Both of you has an extensive comedic background. How much of an input in the development of your characters did you have and how much of any improv makes it to the final cut?
Nat I would say that Andrew Gurland, our creator, was extremely collaborative and welcoming to any conversations about the characters, any additions, anything that we felt was important to add. Obviously he had done a ton of work on developing this show and certainly a lot of this stuff was biographical to a certain extent. I think he had a wealth of knowledge from which to pull from, and I think Judy and I being married ourselves too as well, so it was a very open, fluid conversations between all three of us as far as the direction we were excited to go, take the characters in.
And as far as improvisation, I would say we did quite a bit of improv on set just because I think it was, like I said, welcomed and also sometimes we found some fun stuff that wasn’t on the page, but we were also working with a pretty fantastic blueprint, as far as the scripts. They were in really good shape so it wasn’t totally necessary. It was really more just kind of garnish on top of what was already a great meal, if I’m going to stick with the metaphor.
Judy Wow, yes.
Nat Yes, I’m going to. I did. I stuck with it.
Judy I never stick with a metaphor. You’re better for it. I think as far as knowing what ended up in the episodes, I can’t answer that yet because I haven’t seen them all. That’ll be fun to see what they picked out of all of the nonsense that we would do every day. I’m excited about that, and I felt like our improvs were always based on what was already on the page.
Is there any subject matter that you guys feel is kind of off limits or is it totally open? Is there a particular script you got where you were like how are we even going to play this?
Judy I don’t remember there being anything off limits. Do you, Nat?
Nat No, I don’t at all. I think you kind of know what you’re getting into and what you’re signing up for and certainly being on FX and on cable you certainly can get away with more than you can on network TV. I think the sort of darkness and the risks were exciting to us. I don’t think we were ever—I don’t think there was anything that was over the line or felt too far, in terms of the stuff we did. I think we sort of knew that going in and that was kind of part of the allure in a sense, to sort of go down sort of a darker alley.
What do you think is harder, surviving a modern marriage or establishing an intelligent primate civilization?
Judy Good question. I’m going to go with modern marriage. I feel like with “Caesar” in charge, the primates were good to go. They didn’t really need a ton of extra help because he’s such a great leader and such a great ape. As far as two people being married and being broke and having three kids, I think that’s way harder to deal with.
Nat I guess unless you’re “Caesar” then it’s not that hard.
Judy But “Caesar’s” followers knew what to do because he would tell them and he took care of them. I need a “Caesar” in our show is what I’m saying. You’re not “Caesar.”
Nat We do. We need “Caesar.” Season Two.
Nat, can you talk a little bit about working with Jenny Slate and Brett Gelman and John Hodgman? They’re so funny. What kind of support do they give you and what’s ahead for their characters?
Nat It was a blast working with them. I had actually never worked with Jenny, Brett or John in any capacity so I was going in completely unaware of their comedic abilities and soon was made aware as we started working together. I feel like this is very much about marriage and the struggles that Judy and I go through as a couple, but it’s also very much an ensemble.
I think the story lines that both Brett and Jenny endure throughout the seasons are a major part of the show. For Brett’s character, he’s sort of reeling from a divorce and kind of turning to an unhealthy lifestyle, as a way to sort of cope and it’s really tragic in a sense. It’s very funny but also very sad, and I think that is in line with the tone of this show and what was so attractive to me about it.
And as far as Jenny’s character, it’s the same sort of thing. She’s in a marriage to a much older man. I shouldn’t say much older but older by ten years or so. I think they are kind of on different wavelengths essentially as far as where they are in their lives and kind of what they want, and it’s a struggle for them. Again, I think we’re all sort of dealing with different aspects of marriage/divorce, and the tone of being sad but yet identifiable and funny is, I think, something that ties all those storylines together.
What are the similarities between your characters on the show and yourselves in real life?
Judy Good question. Well, I feel like “Lina” is way more of a loner than I am. She doesn’t really need much outside of her family, and that is a way that I am different but a way that I also admire her and wish I was more like that. I also like how cranky “Lina” is, although I’m pretty cranky. I think in that way we’re similar. I don’t know, Nat, do you have a couple?
Nat No, I’m exactly like my character so it’s pretty easy. I am married. I have three children. I guess I have a little bit more financial stability probably than “Russ” does at this very moment in time, but I would say I’m similar. I also tell my wife that I’m going to work and then I go surfing and then get in trouble for it later so we are very similar I would say. There’s nothing like having a lot of children and being married and going through that. I can’t say there are a lot of differences between us.
What does marriage and being married mean to you guys in the context of the show and then in your own personal lives?
Judy Marriage means that it’s super, super hard to breakup. Right?
Nat True, it does make that harder.
Judy Yes, like it’s just way harder if you want to break up. It is also, I think—gosh, I like it a lot. I’m super into it, but I’m only two and a half years in.
Judy You’re like, yeah.
Nat Yeah, just wait.
Judy My kids are older and they’re step kids. But I feel like in this show—I don’t know, I think “Russ” and “Lina” have—well, I like in the pilot episode that she’s like I don’t want a divorce. She wants to be married. She wants to be with this guy forever. What do you think it means to them, Nat?
Nat I think it means a partnership. I think what it means on the show and what it means in life is kind of parallel. I think they go hand in hand in a way because for “Russ” and “Lina,” I think their life is sort of consumed by their kids and their schedules and pretty much everything that goes into that. What’s sort of missing and what’s important to keep track of, both on the show and in life, is a sense of connection. I think these two characters right now are sort of misfiring a bit, and I think that’s representative of what marriage is in a sense, that it’s work.
It’s a lot of work. It’s spending your entire life with somebody and raising kids and having to make decisions together. You endure the full spectrum of emotions, as far as being friends and in love and having the time of your lives’, mixed with really difficult times where you don’t see eye to eye and you can’t get along and you have to work and fight for staying together. It is exactly what you said. It does make it difficult to break up, and therefore it’s kind of about commitment and all that comes with it.
Nat, based on your writing experience, do you have any type of role in the Married writers’ room or have the writers been looking to you for input yet?
Nat I will say I didn’t this season, but not because it wasn’t welcomed. Andrew was extremely open to my contribution, however much I wanted to give. I was sort of busy with working with Jim Rash, my writing partner, on some other projects. Also I just sort of wanted to get that character of “Russ” sort of in gear before I took on for more responsibilities. There was certainly an open invitation to do so. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind as well as available to do it. Maybe in upcoming seasons, cross our fingers that there are, that can happen. But I stayed out of the way for the most part, and I’m glad I did because I felt like the scripts were really, really good. I was in complete trust of everything that was coming out. I didn’t feel like I needed to meddle in it and mess it all up.
A number of people have said it’s kind of a golden age of TV and I’m wondering for each of you if you agree and, if so, if there’s any particular shows that you guys like to watch.
Judy I do agree. I agree because there’s just so much content now with all of the different cable channels and people recognizing TV as being as cool as feature films. Before I think there was a real line between like, oh, you do TV or you do movies, and now it’s all the same I think. I think there are a lot of TV shows that are better than a lot of the movies being made.
What do I watch? I like Louie and Archer but that’s duh. I’m on it, but I also would watch it if wasn’t because it’s really funny. I like Mad Men and Downton Abbey. What do you watch, Nat? You probably don’t watch TV because you have three kids.
Nat I just had to laugh because Judy and I were on a plane back from New York and Judy said, “oh, I’m going to watch Downton Abbey”; I’ve never seen it. So she burned through a couple of episodes. She was sitting in front of me and I was sitting behind her. I went to go to the bathroom and then I came back and she was in a full, ugly cry, just weeping, just like, it’s such a good show, and just so emotional about all the characters. So I can attest that she does watch that show.
Judy I’m so obsessed. Every time my husband’s like I want to do a thing tonight, I’m like great because he won’t watch it with me.
Nat Sorry, going back to the question. Yes, I agree. I do feel like it’s a golden age of television. I feel like there are more risks being taken and there are the most flawed and wonderfully dark characters, and I think those are the things that are attractive to actors, really being able to get into something that’s so—these fatally flawed people that have so many problems and issues and yet are very much representative of what kind of exists in society. I think those elements are very enticing to actors, and I think that’s why so many people are going into TV and doing these projects, just because the material is more interesting and more available.
As far as shows that I watch, I would say probably all the same things that Judy watches. I’ve been watching a lot of Masters of Sex recently and what else?
Judy That’s on Showtime, I need to get that.
Nat Yes. It will make you maybe horny though, Judy, so be wary.
Judy Never mind, never mind, I’m not getting it. I’m not going to get Showtime.
Nat Yes, and all the same shows, like Mad Men. I like Game of Thrones a lot, Louie.
I know that you’re both a part of social media, and I’d love to hear a little bit about what you’re looking forward to the most with getting to have instant fan feedback through those kinds of platforms.
Nat I need to improve my social media. I will say I am not—
Judy I was going to make a joke when you said that but—
Nat I’m not as on top of it as I should be. I try. Sometimes my neurosis gets in the way of my twittering or tweeting or however it’s said.
I like your vending machine tweet. Your vending machine tweet with the photo was really awesome.
Nat Thank you. See, I just need more support. I think I just need more love. No, I do like seeing it. I like the immediacy of it, obviously. It’s nice to, I think, listen, or read I should say, what people have to say almost right after it happens. I think there’s something that is cool about that instant connection, I should say. I guess I’m looking forward just to—I don’t know, having something to talk about is always nice. There’s some point of context as opposed to me just looking around my room thinking what would be funny to say?
Judy I hate fans. Like the fan I have in my bedroom, not my—that came out weird. I go through not like love/hate relationships with social media, but I’m super sensitive so like sometimes if someone says something terrible I’m like, that’s it; I can’t do it anymore. I can’t do it anymore. I know that most of the time it’s so awesome and it’s so fun to be able to say something and then talk to people about it.
I don’t know, like what Nat said, the instant sort of gratification, if you will, is really nice and it is really nice to hear what people have to say about the show and when they’re supporting it or supporting you. Sometimes in this business what you do takes so long to get done that to hear people supporting it and excited about it helps a lot. It’s nice. It’s nice if you’re having a bad day sometimes. Like, I’m having a bad day, and then someone’s like don’t have a bad day and then you’re like, okay, maybe I won’t. That was another terrible example.