To read about Day One: CLICK HERE
Day 2: September 28th, 2007
I was invited back to the set of "Nip/Tuck for a second day of shooting. This time, when I arrived on the Paramount lot, I was whisked to the studio barn housing Stages 2, 4, and 1 of the new, improved sets. This used to be the site of the old McNamara/Troy compound. It has recently been renovated into Christian's Malibu condo. Scott Seoman once again walked me through the facility. We followed a maze of wide hallways. We stopped by Christian's room. It was in full working order and livable. A brand new Bang & Olufsen hung on the wall near his bed. Dust covers were laid atop of everything. Even Christian's closet was stocked with an actual wardrobe. There were a number of shoes and suits from previous seasons being used to dress the loft.
Next door to this was the guest room, which Sean McNamara is currently using while he looks for his own place in Malibu. His closets were also filled with clothing from previous seasons. It was spacious. Neat. We then cut through the living room. A very large, working Bang & Olufsen television was wired to the wall. Scott explained, "During one of the earlier episodes this season, Sean and Christian are asked to be consultants on a drama called Hearts and Scalpels. They had to watch a coupe of episodes to decide if they want to get involved in it. So we had to have a TV big enough for the scene. So that the folks at home could see what they were watching."
The sound stage for Hearts & Scalpel was located on the other side of Christian's living room. It's a cold, drab medical facility built to look fake. And there is a fake crew area used for shooting the behind the scenes moments of the fictionalized series. "This set is very confusing. You never know which part is the set and which part is the actual crew area. You sit on a table, and someone comes in and yells at you. You have to be very careful not to mess things up."
Director Charles Haid was being set up with a couple of monitors in Christian's guest room. We walked back over, taking a look at Christian's balcony. The view out the back of the condo is stunning. It's this enormous photo of Malibu taken from the viewpoint of The Chart House. An actual steak and seafood restaurant that I'm told is quit delicious. The backdrop has working lights and moving cars, which isn't too noticeable with the sun lamps turned on. One of the crewmembers cut the sunny illumination, Even though it was 8 am in the morning, we were magically plunged into the late evening. The picture came to life. The porch lights were beaming, and tiny car lights went zipping down the fake road. There are even working stoplights that change from green, to yellow, to red.
The cast arrived for rehearsal. Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon were fresh and ready to go. Once again, they knew their lines perfectly. There was one other cast member present, who I am not allowed to reveal at this time. Scott and I walked back over to Charlie at the monitors and took a seat. They were prepping a sequence that I'm not allowed to talk about. We watched as the technicians fiddled with getting the nighttime lighting just right.
Dylan stepped into Sean McNamara's temporary bedroom to take a look at the monitors for himself. He wanted to get a feel for the camera placement. He started talking about the digital set-up, but Haid ignored him. Walsh left the room, his questions unanswered. On the monitor, we could see a close-up of sushi and sake on a blue tray. Julian grabbed the edges of the tray shouting, "God, that's a lot of sake!" He walked it over to a small outside couch, setting it down in front of his mystery co-star. Jokes about there being real sake in the small blue pitcher start making the rounds. No one would verify if the alcohol was authentic or water. Haid thought this was pretty funny.
Take 1 is called. The actors go into action. Sake is poured. And in the middle of the scene, Haid sprang from his chair unexpectedly yelling, "Bam!" Everyone on set was taken by surprise. McMahon looked directly into the camera and mouthed, "What the fuck?" The momentum of the moment was completely thrown for a loop. Charlie shrugged, "I'm just being silly." Julian rolled his eyes, visibly irritated. It's an odd moment. Action is called again. A couple of more takes, and the scene is in the can. Aside from the occasional Haid hick-up, this machine has an exacting Swiss procession running through its five year old veins.
While the grips set up for the reverse shot, Charlie goes into a long monologue about the state of television. How everything is being turned into juvenilia. He calls it the dumbing down of America. He claims that MTV has ruined the minds of millions of viewers. He is quite passionate about the subject, and it's interesting to hear a veteran of television talk about this ridiculous creative process that is currently ruling the airwaves. I wish I could have recorded it. Scott was quick to point out a couple of the smarter shows that are currently on the air at this time. Haid shrugged. He then turned to me, again asking, "Are you a blogger?"
He already knew the answer. He just thought it was funny. The guy is a jokester, dry as white toast. The reverse of the scene was quickly in place. And once again, Haid was calling action. He watched them shoot three more takes, viewing the monitor through his fingers. It is Take 4 that makes him swipe his fist through the air, as if trying to catch a fly. It's "the" take. The golden moment. Julian raised his sake glass, "Let's get shitty!"
Haid got up from his chair and stuck his head out the back patio door, "That was real good." It is said in a mocking tone. Julian shoots back, "That was my best!" Charlie returned to the guest bedroom, muttering, "We'll print it! I'll send it to the Academy of Arts and Science. We'll put it in the archives!" Everyone thinks this is hilarious. And it is.
The next scene was a close-up of McMahon and his unnamed co-star. Dylan Walsh would not be participating. So he returned to his trailer. I was told to accompany him for an interview. The Star Wagon he calls home was parked right outside the studio barn. We went inside...
Dylan Walsh invites us into the new offices of McNamara/Troy
Interview: Dylan Walsh (Dr. Sean McNamara)
So, this is your trailer?
Dylan Walsh: This is my trailer.
That's pretty neat. You don't mind me coming in here?
Dylan Walsh: No, not at all.
What, exactly, are we watching you shoot this morning?
Dylan Walsh: This morning is a scene in which there is a fantasy inside of the scene. The scene is just Sean coming back to the place where he lives with Christian. He's staying with Christian and (spoiler). He's got this idea that he will move out. As they are together now, and Sean wants to make room for them. Inside the fantasy is a scene where I (spoiler), and I (spoiler) as if I were a (spoiler). It's hard to explain. You would actually have to sit down and watch the show to understand it. But that is the scene.
They gave me the sides to look at, and in the one part that I read, you are working on a person that has shrapnel buried in their skin. Are you working on a suicide bomber?
Dylan Walsh: Well, I won't say exactly because I don't want to give it away. But there is somebody who I am helping to take the shrapnel out of. She is the victim of a suicide bomber. That becomes a sort of metaphor for the entire show. While she is a patient, this whole business of suicide bombers and taking revenge gets fused into my storyline.
At this point in the story, you are currently having a tiff with Christian's character?
Dylan Walsh: Yeah. He is with my (spoiler), and I didn't know it. I just learned that on the last show.
Do you have fun with those types of scenes? Where you get to pull these dirty tricks on him?
Dylan Walsh: To be honest with you, it is a kind of tedious side of the show. Because you repeat things over and over again. It is one of the hardest things on the show. To find new ways to have the same old argument. We had this in season two. We have it now. It is on going throughout the series. Originally, I found out that he is with (spoiler). And that my son is not my son. And now we are kind of going through that whole thing again. Because now he is with (spoiler) again. It is so repetitious. The trick and the challenge is to try and find something new each time.
How do you keep that fresh for yourself as an actor?
Dylan Walsh: Well, each time you do it, you've got a history. So it's never the first time, or the second time. You can only do the first and second time once. Which changes it. How many times would it be such a shocking revelation? You just try and focus on the little details. You find something in the context.
Now, how are you dealing with the move to Los Angeles?
Dylan Walsh: My character? I think, when we started, it was such a great opportunity for a fresh start. And I think it's true to life. It actually doesn't happened to be such a fresh start. You bring your baggage with you. You don't get away from your problems. You bring them with you. Of course, it's a TV series full of conflict. So it didn't feel good for too long.
You guys are known for pushing boundaries. Are you going to continue going in that direction? Do you have some real shockers coming up?
Dylan Walsh: Every episode. It's a silly question, because that is the show. That is the tone of the show. It's not about a group of characters sitting around a campfire talking about when they were kids. There is no honest little chitchat. It is a show with huge plot twists. There are always these freaky revelations. And again, to talk about it would be to give it away. But trust me, it's the same intensity as we are used to seeing. Nothing has changed.
Do you have any say in the development of your character?
Dylan Walsh: No, we don't sit down with the writers and come up with plots together. They do their thing, and then we get the script. In other words, we don't sit somewhere and all come up with story ideas. No.
You guys don't even know what is going to be happening throughout the course of the season. You don't know until you get the script. Is that right?
Dylan Walsh: Yeah. We don't know at all. That is absolutely true.
How are you guys dealing with your new sets? From what I understand, the last sets wee pretty cramped. And these are pretty roomy.
Dylan Walsh: The last sets were cramped only compared to these. It wasn't like they were particularly cramped. It's just that they were normal. They were realistic. These new ones are huge. I think that's more of a question for Ryan Murphy. But it goes with the new feel of the show. These kind of spacious sets. It also makes us get a little smaller. Which is kind of the theme we have this year. That we are not the big fish in the little pond anymore. We are little fish, and we have to scramble and scrap our way to make it. But, yeah. They are great. They are grand, and they spent a lot of money on them. To be honest, it's just nice to have a new place.
How does the move change the dynamic of your character?
Dylan Walsh: It doesn't. I think at the end of the day that would be the theme. That it doesn't change you, or give you a new chance. The show is so much about transformation. And for a guy in midlife to go three thousand miles away, it would seem like a fresh start. And it is. For Sean McNamara, it allows him to leave that place, where he has gone through all of that heartache with his family. I think it's a great thing. Its new, and he is single. And, of course, that lasts for about five minutes. Because whatever your stuff is, you bring it with you.
Sean is living in Christian's guest room, right? What sort of challenges does that make for your character?
Dylan Walsh: At the moment, the scene we are shooting today, speaks to that. It was fine when he and I were two single guys. But now he is shacking up with my (spoiler). And I might have to move out. Until then, it was fun. At the beginning of the season we have some fun montages with us getting ready to go out to a club. We were two single guys. It was fun. But not any more.
Do they already have a set built for when you move out?
Dylan Walsh: No. And again, every time I answer one of these questions I give stuff away. But, no, there is not another set even planed yet. I have no other place to go.
How do you invasion the series going had you guys stayed in Miami?
Dylan Walsh: Well, I think it was great timing on Ryan's part. We could have easily done another year or two in Miami. But he anticipated it getting stale. Rather than waiting for it to get stale. I think if we had of stayed in Miami, there would have been a feeling kind of like it had become too repetitious. We have a formula. We have a patient. We say, "Tell us what you don't like about yourself." And whatever their story is, ends up having some sort of parallel to another character's story in the show. That's how it's always been. And that's how it will always be. If we were doing it on the same exact sets, I think it would be getting a little stale.
Were you getting bored with the series?
Dylan Walsh: Not bored, it's just a matter of doing a fifth season. Listen, other shows stay on their set for the whole life of the show. You would still find new things, and new ways to keep it fresh. You don't shoot the same episode twice. There is always something new to it. I think this is a great opportunity to completely lift these people up and take them somewhere. It's not that it is boring. It's that this is just a great way to relaunch the show.
One of the things that came up the other day, talking to the other actors on the set, was that this was sort of like Laverne & Shirley. They moved to Los Angeles, and they were kind of joking about that. Do you remember that?
Dylan Walsh: No, I don't. That parallel is kind of dose.
I know. It just came up, and they were kind of joking about it. That show was shot on this same lot.
Dylan Walsh: I will say this. There is a sense of it being ridiculous. It could just turn into a ridiculous thing. But I think the writers have been very smart. First of all, what it has allowed us to do, is bring in a slightly different tone. If we are able to shift the tone, and still be in Miami, that might be a little abrupt and disorienting. But the fact that we are in a new place allows us to have a different tone. The tone I am talking about is, we are allowed to have this kind of comedy that we haven't had before. With Oliver Platt and Bradley Cooper. There is also a show within the show called Hearts and Scalpels. We are able to have this farcical fun that we haven't really ever had before in the show. They've done that, yet they have still managed to bring in this dark, edgy stuff. To round it out. In the end, it's not ridiculous. Its not a send-up, and an excuse to have us go off and be idiotic. The characters pay for their consequences. They pay for this move, and thinking that they can get a new start.
I guess what I was getting at by mentioning Laverne & Shirley is the fact that every single character on that show moved out to Los Angeles. Like, take the Rosie character, was she from Miami?
Dylan Walsh: I think she was just from anywhere.
Well, you have her, and you have Jessalyn's character moving here. They were just talking about the similarities, between having all of the characters move out to Los Angeles at one time.
Dylan Walsh: Well, you know, you have to. You have to bring the show with you. It's not a spin-off. It's still the show. The trick is to do the best you can in justifying ever person's move. In a way, that is sort of the theme this year. Sean is the first to go out. And he thinks it's a fresh start. One by one, all of the people that he has been associated with over the years start coming out. You don't really leave anything behind.
Well, there is a truth to that in life. After college, I moved out here. Then slowly but surely, all of my friends ended up moving out here too.
Dylan Walsh: Yeah.
What are you working on besides the show?
Dylan Walsh: When I am working on this show there is no way to work on anything else. This is everyday. This finishes wrapping in April. So, I don't have anything lined up. Just this show. Around maybe January or February, I might start looking at other things. But right now, this is a long haul. And we are just getting into it.
How many more episodes do you guys have to shoot?
Dylan Walsh: What are we on now? Episode nine? We are going to do twenty-two. So we are not even halfway done yet.
Dylan Walsh: Okay. Thanks for coming in.
And with that, Mr. Walsh was headed back to the set.
Nip/Tuck's fifth season premiers on October 30th. Don't forget to set your Tivos (or, if you are like me and still living in the stone age, your VCR)! It's only on the FX Channel!
Dont't forget to also check out: Nip/Tuck