Tate Donovan breaks down the complexity of the character that is Tom Shayes

With over 60 roles to his credit, Tate Donovan has fashioned himself as one of the most dependable actors in Hollywood. Now playing Tom Shayes in the FX Drama Series Damages, he stars alongside Glenn Close who plays a powerful litigator trying high-stake cases in New York.

I was wondering if you know or have a sense when you'll know about whether or not Damages is going to have a second season?

Tate Donovan: Currently the word is, is that FX doesn't let people know shows known until after all of the episodes have aired. But we're hoping. We're definitely hoping.

Okay. And I know you obviously can't reveal too much but can you kindly of give us some hints as to who the killer is?

Tate Donovan: Which killer? You know, what I'm saying? I have to say it makes total sense like they've been sort of laying this sort of plot for a long time. And when you're - when you find out who the killer is you'll be like, "Oh, wow."

I have to say the - when I first reading the final script I was like so impressed how they set up the second season - if there's going to another season. They've set it up in a way that you're just like you cannot wait to see next season. It's really cool what they've done.

Okay. And where did you come - what's you're (pull on) played your character?

Tate Donovan: What did I what?

What did you pull on? What did you - what sort of influences did you get from to play your character?

Tate Donovan: Well, I have an uncle who's a corporate lawyer. And I spent a couple of days with him and I actually brought Rose Byrne with me at his law firm here in New York. And she's got a couple of days with a female partner.

And so, I mean while personality wise they're not very similar my uncle and Tom Shayes. Just to sort to get the sense of how corporate lawyers has spent their day and what they do, how they talk, how they relate to each other and their client. He helped me out quite a bit.

I have a couple of things I wanted to address. One is throughout the series to this point Tom has been more or less the "go-to" guy who is not the number one chair. And he pretty much jump when, you know, he just said jump but at the same time he also has the confidence to bring different points of view to the discussions they have and he's not afraid to back his point. Where did you draw for - where did you draw from experience to handle a character who has (bow shadings)?

Tate Donovan: That's a good question. Let's see. You know, I don't know. I mean it's just sort of like co-working with Glenn Close, you know, she's a pretty formidable actress. So, to sort of listen to her and I think that she has said something that's, you know, completely correct and a bit of sort of a legal genius is pretty easy to do.

So, I think Tom really, really respects almost more than anybody. Patricia Hewes is sort of certain legal mind. And so that's easy part and I think Tom himself is a very bright guy. And, you know, so he'll know when to sort of step up and defend himself or - but overall he really has a great a legions.

And I think he's just deeply impressed with Patty Hewes. And he's never sort of met anybody like her or I think he just recognizes that she has just an extraordinary mind. And, you know, in the legal world it's the smartest guy in the room wins, you know. So, he's definitely able to put aside he's - let the ego to listen to the smartest guy in the room even if it's a woman.

And the second thing I was wondering, I mean you've got an all star cast here with Glenn Close and you and Rose Byrne...

Tate Donovan: Ted Danson.

...and Michael Murry. You've got recognizably A-list TV directors like I'm not sure how to pronounce I think it's Greg Yaitanes.

Tate Donovan: Uh-huh.

And, you know, it's a wonderful situation, how did the role come to you?

Tate Donovan: I just like, you know, everybody else just audition, you know. And thank God they picked me. You know, they picked over like some actors that I am sure I would never beat out. But it was - I just feel very fortunate, very lucky to be part of this whole group. It's really right down the line from the procedures to the crew and the whole cast is pretty A-list I got to say.

I was going to ask you questions about the October 2nd episode sort of like the family. There was a phone number on Ellen's voicemail and I actually decided to call it.

Tate Donovan: You're messed up, man. You got a problem.

Yeah. I got a little bit of sometimes...

Tate Donovan: See, what's time on your head?

But, you know, what it does it actually link - it takes me to like Hughes & Associates voicemail thing like for a real company.

Tate Donovan: Come on.

Yeah. I'm serious. It's all set up through FX. I was just wondering if the cast...

Tate Donovan: It's brilliant.

...knows about this stuff?

Tate Donovan: No. We had no idea.

That's really cool. You just check it out. You want the number.

Tate Donovan: Yes.


Tate Donovan: Yeah.


Tate Donovan: That is - how did you figure out the number? You just heard it?

It's - yeah, you can hear it. Plus if you go to the official website on Sony...

Tate Donovan: Uh-huh.

...it's listed right there. It's like the company's phone number.

Tate Donovan: That's outrageous.

You know, so you didn't know about that?

Tate Donovan: No. I had no idea.

All right. Check it out.

Tate Donovan: I will. I will.

Well, actually I just want to see if you knew. And there's actually another thing on the site because they have an online blog that started when the show started.

Tate Donovan: Uh-huh.

Have you ever read it?

Tate Donovan: No. I'd never had and had never gone on. I'm kind of scared to read it, you know.

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs