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Recently, Dish had the opportunity to speak with Basche about his new role and the challenges he faced as a replacement actor in an established part. “I’m sort of like Darren on Bewitched,” Basche says, laughing. “They’re sort of trying to sneak me in. [The role] was played by Peter Jacobson, who I know and really like, and actually saw and talked to him about this. I asked him how he’s doing on House, and he said ‘you don’t have to feel too bad for me.’”

By the time USA decided to make The Starter Wife an ongoing series, Jacobson had already been cast as a series regular in the hit series House, making it necessary for executives to search for a new Kenny. According to Basche, when he was initially approached for this role he had the same problem because he, too, was on another show at the time.

“Interestingly enough, the first time they called my agent and asked about me, because I guess they sort of had me in mind, my agent said, ‘I’m very sorry. He’s a series regular on Lipstick Jungle. He’s not available.’ And we had just found out the show was going to be picked up and coming back for a second season. But shortly there after, Lipstick talked to me and said they were not sure how long the character of Mike Harness, Kim Raver’s nemesis, would be around. They said they were not sure of the storylines on the show, and that they would be willing to work with Starter Wife on my schedule if I had to go back and forth. And I think that was helped by the fact that they’re both Universal television, one is NBC and one is USA. So, my agent quickly got on phone and said, ‘He’s available.’ So I came out, auditioned for the role, met Debra, and got the good news.”

And it was good news indeed for this actor, who will now be starring in two hit series at the same time. For any actor, this would be quite a coup, and especially for Basche, who knows what it’s like to be worried about when his next big break will come.

“You know, as actors we give up hope like, twice a week. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we have a couple of months where we don’t give up hope, and then we give up hope three times a day. It comes with the territory, the sense of divine dissatisfaction, the question of when will I work again, the question of will I get to the next level. We really are waiting for the proverbial rug to be pulled out from under us all the time. And I think the irony is that a lot of actors think that if they can just get that next big thing, that they won’t feel like that anymore. And what I’m starting to realize now that I’ve been working in this business for a little while is that I’ll probably feel like that no matter what.” In reality though, Basche most likely has nothing to worry about, at least at the moment. The new series is likely to be a hit, considering it was USA’s highest rated mini-series in history.

Despite the mini-series’ success,  the producers wanted to make some changes, especially in the way that the character of Kenny is portrayed. They wanted him to be a more likable character, so that the audience can empathize with him instead of merely despising him. And Basche is certainly up for the challenge. “I think that [the audience] might like the fact that Kenny, as written now is, I think, slightly more likable, and it’s more in the writing in the story,” Basche explains. “I think that the fans who loved all the nasty, horrible things that Kenny did and said will find plenty of those still. But we’re trying to bring a little bit of an understanding of why Kenny and Molly would have been married in the first place.”

Basche himself has been married for over ten years, and he and his wife Alysia Reiner, who incidentally has a role on The Starter Wife as Cindy, another woman going through a divorce, are expecting their first child this winter. So, what is it like to play a man who was in an unhappy marriage when he is truly happy in his own life?

“It’s fascinating to me,” Basche says. “I’ve been with my wife for a long time. We have a wonderful marriage, and yet I always play the guy who is a horrible husband, a bad guy. And then here I am in real life with this fantastic marriage of more than ten years that I think, with the impending arrival of our first child, has already gotten even better. I can’t even imagine where it’s going to go from here. I’m absolutely thrilled. So, there’s a little irony there, wondering what people see in me that makes them cast me that way. I don’t know. You know, maybe because I’m happy in my marriage and happy in my relationships with my family and the people that I work with, maybe because I’m happy with them, that I’m sort of secure in those relationships, so I’m a little more comfortable being a real asshole, and not worrying that people are going to think that that’s really me.”

He thinks for a moment, and adds, “Those guys [Mike Harness on Lipstick Jungle and Kenny Kagan] are so full of themselves that eventually it’s going to come back around. I don’t think that any of the characters are the worst villains. I don’t think any of them really thought they were doing anything wrong. And in this sense, Kenny doesn’t really think that the nasty things that he does - his self-centeredness and inattentiveness, he doesn’t pay attention to anybody else - he doesn’t really think any of those things are problems. So, there’s no remorse; there’s no regret. And that makes it more fun, I think.”

When asked about developments in the plotline of his character Mike Harness, Basche was rather tight-lipped. But for The Starter Wife, Basche revealed his hopes for what might happen between Kenny and Molly. Could there be a chance for this couple to get back together? “Oh, I would be thrilled at that,” Basche says, “because I think, again, that shows that there’s a reason that they were together in the first place. That will add a layer to their relationship. It won’t just be the animosity of divorce, which, although that’s true to life and interesting to watch, it’s just one layer, and I always like it when there’s more than one layer. The truth is with ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-lovers, ex-husbands, and wives, once you share that kind of intimacy with someone, it just remains easy to slip back into that.”

Though the plotline for Kenny is uncertain, Basche’s own future holds excitement for himself and his family and a sense of hope for what is to come. “Honestly, right now my biggest aspiration has nothing to do with the business; it’s just for God-willing, a healthy, happy baby. I don’t know if it will be a boy or a girl, and I won’t find out until it arrives. That’s really the biggest thing. And I have a feeling that’s going to put everything else in perspective.”

He continues, “But if I had to speculate beyond that, first and foremost, I’d really like to keep working. I know I’m supposed to reach higher than that, but the truth is, I just love this business, I love what I’m doing, and I just want to keep doing it. And if I had to go a little farther than that, I would say I’d love to keep working and be able to tell great stories and make people laugh and move them and open their eyes to things. And then somewhere beyond that is, of course, all the little gold statues and all that fun stuff.”

Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of The Starter Wife on Friday, October 10 at 9pm et/pt on USA!
Lipstick Jungle airs on Wednesdays on NBC!
www.Dishmag.com / Issue 87 - September 2018
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