While cable network FX is probably best known for their critically acclaimed dramas, they’ve also established a well-received repertoire of comedic offerings over the past few years, including Louie, Archer, The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The latter two series have migrated over to spinoff network FXX, but that doesn’t mean FX is out of the comedy game.
Debuting on Thursday night, Married stars Judy Greer and Nat Faxon as Lina and Russ, a couple who find that the pressures of three children and ever-mounting debt have sapped the romance from their relationship. Earlier this week, the two stars spent some time chatting with journalists via conference call and answering some of our questions about the new series.
How did you guys get involved with this project?
Nat Faxon: I met with Andrew Gurland, the creator of the show, 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. 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 Greer: 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, then I decided definitely I had to be in it.
Greer: 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, over the years we’ve seen you cast in the “best friend” role a number of times, but you have a ton of big projects that are either coming up or that have just happened. Planet of the Apes just came out, obviously you have Married where you’re front and center, and you’re in Jurassic World next summer. 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?
Greer: I didn’t until you asked that question. Now I definitely do. [laughs] No, I don’t feel much pressure. I don’t know, the roles I’m playing feel really… they’re comfortable for me. Maybe the size of [the role] is getting bigger, but I’m still feeling like myself playing them, which is important to me. 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.
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?
Faxon: I would say that Andrew 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.
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.
Faxon: Yes, I’m going to. I did. I stuck with it.
Greer: 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.
Working on a show like this, was there any subject matter you felt was off limits?
Greer: I don’t remember there being anything off limits. Do you, Nat?
Faxon: 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 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 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 a darker alley.
Greer: I do 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. 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.
Faxon: 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.” 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.
Greer: 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.
Faxon: 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, 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.
Greer: That’s on Showtime, I need to get that.
Faxon: Yes. It will make you maybe horny though, Judy, so be wary.
Greer: Nevermind, nevermind, I’m not getting it. I’m not going to get Showtime.
What are the similarities between your characters on the show, and your own personal lives?
Greer: 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’s a way that I’m 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?
Faxon: 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 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.
Keeping with that theme, what does marriage mean to each of you, both in the context of the show and in your own lives?
Greer: Marriage means that it’s super, super hard to break up. Right?
Faxon: True, it does make that harder.
Greer: Yes, it’s just way harder if you want to break up. It’s also, I think… gosh, I like it a lot. I’m super into it, but I’m only two and a half years in. But I feel like in this show… 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?
Faxon: 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.
Married airs Thursday nights at 10pm, exclusively on FX.