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TNT has been bringing our favorite actors to series television. They got Kyra Sedgwick and Holly Hunter to make their TV series debuts in The Closer and Saving Grace respectively. They brought back the likes of Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben and Jane Kaczmarek on Raising the Bar, and now TV favorites Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh for Trust Me.

Will (McCormack on Will & Grace) and Ed (Cavanagh on Ed)

 

The actors more famously known as now play advertising executives. Unlike the '60s period piece Mad Men, Trust Me is set in present day, with all the multimedia conflicts and advanced products we see in stores.

 

Series co-creator Hunt Baldwin was a former advertising executive. He told Cavanagh about the cutthroat point of view admen share. "The idea being that adage that it's not enough for us to succeed, others must also fail. That's kind of interesting because you take that worldview, that's the kind of thing we're presenting in this show. People are competitive and selfish and indulgent."

 

Cavanagh plays Conner, the more irresponsible, and often funnier, loose cannon of the duo. A character like Conner pulled Cavanagh away from films for an ongoing series.

 

"There's a sharpness there and a bit of a rogue," Cavanagh said. "On episodic television, it's nice to play something that has that kind of edge I think. Truthfully, the [character] is the show. He's petty, immature, a bit of a rogue but also good at his job and I like that mix because it feels very real."

 

Monica Potter, Tom Cavanagh

The schedule of Trust Me, with a 13 episode first season, also meant that Cavanagh would not have to give up film forever. "Cable offers you the time to kind of do both. So a cable series, a well written cable series, certainly if it's out there, you want to read it and take a look. As an actor, I always like to work, and episodic television for me has been so great, and I'm also built to do it every day.”

 

“I do have friends who are movie stars,” he continues. Their lives are, I think, different in many ways. You wait a year, things are in production and this person signed on and that person's gone. Then you finally get it up and running and then that's another year. Then say it ends up disappointing. That's two years of this thing, and then there's the next one. I mean, more power to them. It's fantastic. It's a fantastic life.”

 

As Conner's superior, Mason, McCormack took a lighter approach to his return to series TV. "I missed talking to you guys mostly," McCormack joked about the press. "You weren't calling."

 

His co-star, Cavanagh, gave McCormack more credit for joining the Trust Me team. "I think his position is enviable certainly," Cavanagh said. "He created an iconic character and now his position is like wow. Ed was not this big smash hit. Will & Grace was a big smash hit and he has to overcome, he has to now create something that people will perceive as different. I don't think it's easy and he's just done an amazing job at it. I think it's hard and I think if you watch the show, you'll see within, all that falls away and you say, 'Oh, here's this guy who's got this new guy going.' And not just because we're working together, but honestly, I think he's doing a kickass job."

 

Joking aside, McCormack welcomed the challenge of a new show. "I love doing a series," he said. "I love playing a character ongoing and I just was waiting for the right one. This is it, god dammit."

 

Fans of Ed still remember Cavanagh fondly, but there will be plenty of new viewers who see Cavanagh for the first time, with no preconceived notions.

 

"I have to say frankly, people consume and spit out and forget," Cavanagh said. "They don't forget that he's done Will and that I've done Ed but I think frankly, Ed was not an off the charts hit but a moderate, critical success which we were so happy about, but numbers-wise, fine, 7-10 million. It's enjoyable because if you compare it to Ed, if I were to reprise something quite similar to that, I wouldn't be able to do it as well, I don't think. It'd be unfair to [series creators] John [Coveny] and Hunt [Baldwin] to say, 'Um, I want him to be like a good guy, straight, and funny.'"

 

Will McCormack

The love story of Trust Me is between the two partners, as they deal with Mason's new promotion and Conner's incorrigible personality. The show's leading lady is Monica Potter, but Cavanagh warned not to write her off as an office romance subplot.

 

"It's slightly demeaning to her character only because it becomes a 'Will they or won't they' kind of thing, like a girl thing possibly. What I like about this show is, to me anyway, it's a little less obvious than certain things. Monica's really great. What's interesting is her assignment in this is not predicated on whether she gets into a relationship with him or me or anyone because of the stuff she's doing. What's great about that is even if they do have a relationship, should their relationship end, it feels like that would not be the demise of her character, which with a lot of shows, if they get together, then it's over."

 

When Conner and Mason banter, often with Mason trying to control his politically incorrect partner, much of that comes out of the actors embellishing the script. "Credit where credit is due, these guys conceive of the characters this way," Cavanagh said. "They are so willing [to let us improvise] once that happens. They're great with it and what that ends up doing is we know we have the freedom. They embrace it, they support it, they encourage it."

 

Still, the boys would have nowhere to go without a solid blueprint from the writers. "Part of the thing is that if you get a confident writer and great subject matter, then you're doing what you love to do every day. That's one of the great things for Eric and I about this show. We like how it's written and we get to act that."

 

 Ed Cavanagh

McCormack also gives credit to Baldwin and Coveny's scripts. "It's just a great script," McCormack said. "It's a great script. It's very funny. It's a very funny hour."

 

Luckily, the two actors have chemistry. Otherwise no amount of writing or improvising would work. "That would be awful," Cavanagh said. "That's one version of hell I think, hating the people you work with, having to go in every day and pretend to like them. I've been very, very fortunate. It's a gamble but I know him. I've seen him at NBC. We had a cross pollination there. We've run into each other. He's Canadian. Actors gain a reputation. We've both been doing this for 20 years. After a while, if he was a jackass, it'd be kind of hard to hide that. He's got a sweetheart of a reputation. We're both with the same agents and when we started talking about it, we both heard it was each other. I think that's when it got really serious."

 

Perhaps the real life actors fit their characters' roles as well, with McCormack the responsible one and Cavanagh the wild card. "My guy is certainly more of a rogue, less responsible, immature but that's good for me," Cavanagh said. "I've spent some time being irresponsible. He, the married person, I don't think is a small thing, and the children. People haven't seen him do that. He's done Lonesome Dove. He's been kind of like the rogue, the tough guy. He's done Will & Grace. He's been this leading man in that form and now he's doing this guy. If he wants to lob some softballs up for the character I play, then I got no problem with that."

 

Trust Me airs Monday nights at 10 on TNT.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 95 - September 2018
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