In USA Network’s NECESSARY ROUGHNESS , psychotherapist Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) is in charge of seeing to the mental health of the pro football players on the Hawks football team, as well as treating other individuals in the sports world.
However, the sanest person on the scene often seems to be Hawks trainer Matthew Donnally, played by Marc Blucas. Matthew actually gets Dani her job as team therapist after they sleep together – following this, Dani can’t date Matthew due to professional conflict of interest. Matthew is therefore less than pleased when he notices sparks between Dani and team fixer Nico (Scott Cohen).
Pennsylvania native Blucas is often cast as the normal fellow amongst the mad throng, whether as the heroine’s human boyfriend in two seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, a U.S. Army lieutenant serving in Vietnam in WE WERE SOLDIERS or Cameron Diaz’s initial love interest in KNIGHT AND DAY. Sitting down in the lounge of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for an interview, Blucas talks about why he so often gets cast as level-headed types, and why his background makes him uniquely suited for a show like NECESSARY ROUGHNESS that is set in the world of pro sports.
ASSIGNMENT X: Why do you think you so often are cast as the most normal person in the situation?
MARC BLUCAS: It’s a quality, you know? I don’t know if that’s something that I carry – obviously, because I get cast as that a lot, whether it’s that audience perspective, that voice of reason, that I don’t get flustered very easily [laughs]. I don’t know what that is.
AX: Do you enjoy playing that, or would you like to play somebody who is a little wilder?
BLUCAS: I think that it’s a little bit of both. Most of the time, as actors, we gravitate toward who we’re not. We want to play the serial killers and you want to have the freedom like – look at what Mehcad [Brooks, who plays mercurial wide receiver T.K.] is doing on the show. He’s doing crazy stuff, he’s having the time of his life. And that at times is a lot of fun.
When I read this, I was like, “Boy, I lived [in] a whole world of sports. I feel like I can bring something to this character and to this show that can elevate it.” Because [sports] was a passion of mine for twenty years, I was in this world before I was an actor. And then when [the producers] met me, they were like, “You’re a sarcastic smartass. We’re going to start writing for that.” I’m like, “Fantastic. That’s great!” That’s the beauty of television – you can adjust as you go.
Now we’ve all kind of found our footing and our pace and a dynamic between certain relationships, we still get surprised with each script, because we don’t know what’s coming either, really. Some things that you don’t plan for just happen. Like Nico and Danni have a really fun thing going. They have a great little dynamic and a great way to make fun of each other, and so they can make those adjustments. It’s nice when we are friends and we all get along. This is a cast that genuinely really likes each other. We respect each other and we’ve accelerated that friendship. And so we’ve been able to bring to life some of our real-life dynamics with these characters.
AX: Which sports were you involved with before you became an actor?
BLUCAS: Mainly basketball. I’ve played them all through high school, basically, but I went to college on a basketball scholarship and then got to play professionally in Europe for a year, went to pro camp in Chicago, got picked up to play overseas. When I came back, my best friend, Tim Duncan, was still in the NBA, so I’ve been around and exposed for so long to trainers and the organizations and the front offices that I’ve become very familiar with it. And so when I saw [NECESSARY ROUGHNESS], I was just like, wow, I think I have a lot to offer. It’s like on the resume for special skills – “This actor can juggle.” Doing a show where one of the home bases is a sports organization, I think I can throw in two cents that will be valuable.
AX: Why did you transition from basketball to acting?
BLUCAS: I left the game on my terms. I had offers to keep playing, but I knew too many guys over in Europe who were thirty-five, thirty-seven. They come back to the States and now what? At the time, I had a scholarship to law school, I was still dumb and fearless and ready to try something else. I didn’t think I’d get my shot in the NBA. It hurt, it was hard to stop, but I was content to do it. I got paid to play the game and not many people can say that. When I was getting ready to start law school, there was a movie shooting nearby, they needed a kid who could play basketball, so I was like, “Hey, it would be fun to tell my kids that their old man was in a movie once – ‘Look at this Beta tape!’” [laughs] It was a long time ago. The cliché happened. I caught the bug. I started studying and I found myself falling in love with [acting]. It kept me up at night and woke me up in the morning, just like basketball did for a period of time. I’m lucky that at my age I’ve found two passions in life that I’ve been able to do somewhat successfully for a period of time. I feel fortunate that way. I also know that I work my ass off.
AX: Besides working your ass off, are there any skills that translate from basketball to acting?
BLUCAS: Yeah. It’s really the ability to sacrifice and commit, the dedication, the work ethic. The minute that this was a way of life for me, law school was out and I was immediately in acting class, doing it every night. It’s that total immersion. It’s a little tunnel-visioned, it’s selfish in a way, but that’s what you do when you’re in your mid-twenties. You’re finding yourself and what you want, and so that’s really where it’s the same on a micro level. On a macro level, shooting the show is just like a team sport. Everybody has a role, we all have a job, and for us to be successful, to put out a good final product or win a game, we all have to do our part. And so in that way, that team concept thing is similar, too.
AX: Are there any differences between football, at least as it’s depicted on this show, and basketball in terms of how they are organized off the playing field?
BLUCAS: In football, you have a team of seventy people and a staff. Basketball is a much more intimate group, and it’s not nearly as many moving parts. You have fifteen guys on a roster and five coaches, and that’s it. That’s probably the biggest difference. But in pro sports, everybody’s fighting for minutes, everybody’s fighting for longevity, everybody’s fighting to carve out a career, because the athlete’s window is so small in relation to their lifetime. On the show, while we certainly hit a handful of stereotypes, I think that it’s nice to show the inner workings of coaches and staff and team. We’re not REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL. We’re still a scripted dramatic show here, but I think that we have a nice line of having dramatic license and being authentic.
AX: There’s a kind of romantic triangle between your character Matthew, Dani and Nico. Do you want to see that heat up, or do you like it as a slow burn?
BLUCAS: The slow burn is necessary. I have no idea if this is going to happen, but I would love to see Dani and Nico start a relationship, because one, I think Scott and Callie are really fun to watch, they have a great dynamic. But the reason that Dani and Matthew couldn’t pursue it was her boundary that she can’t have a workplace romance. And if [Dani and Nico] have one, I think it puts me in a really interesting spot, where, “Wait a minute, you said that …” So that’s tension between us, so now I’m pissed at her, but I’m also like, “Oh, so it was me. So I’m not good enough, or you just didn’t feel that for me.” So I can go into the self-pity or whatever that brings up in Matthew with his insecurities, and obviously then there’s a whole new dynamic with Nico. And it’s interesting as well – where are Nico and I in the workplace power struggle? Who’s above whom? What if I’m his boss, all of a sudden? What if he has to answer to me? There’s a lot to play there, where that could be really rich, that could be fun.
AX: Do you think that’s going to happen by the season finale, or is that more of a next-season issue?
BLUCAS: I think it will probably have to be next season, is my guess. I have no idea. I genuinely have no idea, but I would hesitate having Dani sleep with two dudes in the same organization in the same season. I don’t think that’s the best season. It could be problematic [laughs].
AX: Do you have strong memories of your time on BUFFY?
BLUCAS: I have great memories of that. Mainly because I was so green. I was right off the boat and I did not know what I was doing. I did not have craft or training to fall back on. I was going on instinct alone and Joss [Whedon] and especially Sarah [Michelle Gellar] were just so patient with me. Everyone was just really nice. They were a well-oiled machine at that point, and so you would think they would have an expectation that someone could just fit in and go, and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. And it was nice to feel taken care of. I was frustrated, especially with myself, at times. But I have such great memories, mainly because they were great to me, and obviously, it’s nice to be part of a cult hit like that. And I had such a good time doing the stunts and the physicality, because that’s what I had come from, the sports world. I could do what I wanted to do with my body. Leonard Roberts and Bailey Chase were in the group [of soldiers with Blucas’ character], and I was the least experienced actor of the group. Those guys were great – we really had a lot of fun working together.
AX: You were also in the Vietnam war drama WE WERE SOLDIERS. It seems like a lot of your costars have done very well since then …
BLUCAS: Oh, yeah. Jon Hamm …. It’s a long list of people. Obviously, it’s spearheaded by [screenwriter/director/producer] Randall Wallace – he knows what he’s doing when it comes to putting a group together and writing a story and how do you cast a lot of really interesting people on a show, and those are all people who keep working, which is nice.
AX: Back to NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, you’re shooting in Atlanta, and it’s supposed to be New York in the fall, so you’re all bundled up in the Southern heat. Is that the biggest physical challenge?
BLUCAS: That’s a component obviously we can’t control, change, steer or do anything about. It is sometimes difficult to do scenes where you feel sweat running down your back or when it’s about to come onto your face, and you think about that, as opposed to being engaged with somebody and having a connection. So that can be tricky. It does make it challenging, but at the same time, we make the best of it. At the end of the day, it’s cooler than the unemployment line. I’m grateful to have a job. We feel really blessed. I think that not only are we having fun doing it, but the response so far is that the fans are having fun watching it, so we’re grateful for people tuning in and we hope it continues.
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Click on Link: TV review of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS – Season 1 – “Pilot”
Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with NECESSARY ROUGHNESS star Marc Blucas