As the second season of the popular USA Network series
In Plain Sight starts up, there are a lot of changes in the
Albuquerque Witness Protection program.
Federal Marshall Mary Shannon (played by Mary McCormack)
has escaped from a kidnapping threat and now has to deal with a power
shift in her office as well as a changing dynamic in her home.
Her neíer-do-well mother and sister are going through
seismic life changes. Mother Jinx (Lesley Anne Warren) has finally come
to terms with the fact that she is an alcoholic and sought help at
rehab. Sister Brandi is coming to terms with her criminal past as well,
feeling guilty for playing a big part in her sisterís getting
Maryís sister Brandi is played by Nichole Hiltz, an actress
who is using this as her breakout role after recurring parts in
Bones, Desperate Housewives and The Riches.
Joining the series is veteran character actor Joshua Malina
Ė who co-starred with series lead Mary McCormack on The West Wing
and has also had significant roles on the series Sports Night,
Numb3rs and Big Shots. Malina plays Brandiís new love
interest Peter Alpert, a well-off businessman who heads a local
Alcoholic Anonymous group.
As In Plain Sight returns for
a second season, Hiltz and
Malina were nice enough to do
a conference call with us and several other websites to
My first questionís for Nichole. What about
your role continues to challenge you?
Nichole Hiltz: A lot of things this year.
Brandi is trying to change her life, but she doesnít really know how to
do that overnight. So sheís still getting into trouble and challenges
and bumps. It doesnít help that my mother is asking me to go to AA
meetings for her when Iím trying to get my own life together. Itís
challenging because she wants to be better and doesnít really have the
tools to be that yet.
Joshua, was there interesting cast chemistry
when you began working with everyone or did it take a bit of time to
develop? I know youíre mainly working with NicholeÖ
Joshua Malina: I really felt welcome right
away. It was nice that I knew Mary McCormack already and it was fun for
me right away. Nichole is a blast; I certainly liked her right away. I
canít speak to whether she felt any chemistry, but right off the bat, we
were laughing. Our very first scene we were shooting outside on a bench
and it was really cold. There was the instant camaraderie of how do we
act not cold? How do we do this scene without shivering? So yes, I hit
the ground running. Everybody there is very cool. I had done a play
reading with Fred Weller; I kind of knew a few people and thatís always
nice. Itís also very, the vibe on the set from everybody on camera and
behind the camera is pretty relaxed. Itís a very cool place to work.
What got you started in acting, for both of you?
Joshua Malina: Iím going to let my TV
girlfriend go first on all mutual questions. Iím a remarkable man and I
need time to come up with something.
Nichole Hiltz: Well, Punky Brewster
inspired me a lot, loved her.
Joshua Malina: Me, too.
Nichole Hiltz: I was always in love with
film and becoming a character and playing something else and nobody ever
told me no so I just followed it and here I am, having a ton of fun.
Joshua Malina: Actually itís pretty similar
for me, too, always wanted to be an actor. It sort of prevented that
whole; I never had any of that kind of angsty period where I was trying
to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Ever since I was a kid,
probably eight years old and doing musicals at camp and community
theater and plays at school, it was just always what I most enjoyed and
always what I intended to pursue. I went to college and I majored in
theater and then never really too seriously considered doing anything
else until recently where I have a wife and child. I think itís too
late now; I have no other skill set.
Nichole Hiltz: Youíve got a couple. Youíre
good at smacking the signs out of my hand.
Joshua Malina: Thatís true, but thereís no
money in it.
Nichole Hiltz: I can start paying you if you
want. Iíll pay you to stop.
How did you two get your parts on the show? Did
you audition for them?
Nichole Hiltz: Iím not going to speak for
Josh, but I donít think he did. I auditioned several times. I had to
go through the network test and all that, but I think Josh might have
just charmed the pants off of everybody.
Joshua Malina: Speaking for myself, these
days any time Iím working itís almost guaranteed that I havenít
auditioned. One way to ensure that Iím not going to get a role seems to
be by showing somebody how I would play it. These days I really only
work when Iíve got some sort of connection. My connection is that Mary
McCormack brought up my name. I was actually delighted; I was in New
York City. I had just finished doing, believe it or not, a workshop,
sort of a mini production for producers of Grumpy Old Men: The
Musical, which a friend of mine was trying to get done on Broadway
and I was having that immediate Ė every time Iím done with any kind of
job I have the immediate, ďIím never going to work again,Ē moment. As I
was reveling or wallowing in that ďIím never going to work again
moment,Ē I got a text message from Mary saying, ďI think theyíre going
to offer you an arc on my show.Ē Shortly thereafter I did. I was
really delighted to get the part.
Nichole Hiltz: I was delighted to have a TV
boyfriend. Then I was delighted to find out it was Josh Malina.
Joshua Malina: My memory is I heard you
mutter, ďAww,Ē under your breath.
Nichole Hiltz: Thatís the opposite of what
Joshua Malina: Maybe that was just in my
Nichole Hiltz: Lesley Anne Warren made fun
of me because the first day you showed up, sheís like, ďWhy are you
acting crazy?Ē I said, ďIím not acting crazy; Iím fine.Ē Sheís like,
ďNo, youíre acting like a weirdo.Ē I was trying to be nonchalant.
Joshua Malina: I was delighted.
I was checking out the forums on the showís
official site and I noticed a lot of fans hate your character, Nichole Ė
and Jinx as well. I was just trying to figure out do you take that kind
of thing to heart or is it confirmation that as an actor youíre playing
Nichole Hiltz: I want to go with the
second. It is challenging. Itís hard sometimes to play; I know already
in the script that sheís screwing up. How do you back this up and how
do you fight for it? But I had to learn quickly not to take it
personally. It makes my character more complex and itís something to
fight against and makes it more of a challenge. Sure everybody wants to
be loved, but theyíve given me such great stuff this year, the stuff
with Josh, has been really, really fun and has brought a lot of
integrity, I think, to my character. Thanks, Josh. At the same time if
every character is perfect and always doing everything right then we
donít have a show and itís not as interesting. It balances out.
Joshua, whatís your personal view of Peter? Is
he somebody youíd want to hang out with?
Joshua Malina: Thatís a great question. I
think for at least the first two or three episodes Nichole and I would
talk about I was just called Mr. Bummer, like what is that? My god, a
self-righteous recovering alcoholic. That being said I like people like
that; I enjoy hanging out with people who are a huge drag. Thatís just
me. The greater overview as David Maples and the other writers have
written him, I actually think thereís a lot to him. I think he is the
kind of guy Iíd like to hang out with, in part because I think weíll
discover heís got a lot of money, too. Maybe Iím not supposed to say
that. I certainly enjoy hanging out with the rich. To be more serious
now about answering your question, yes, I think thereís a lot to him.
When we first see him itís in a very specific situation. The guyís at
an AA meeting and this really cute girl crashes it, tells this amazing
story and then he immediately finds out that itís all a lie. So weíre
not seeing him at his happy best. Heís definitely feeling kind of taken
advantage of and sort of bummed out. What I can promise is that weíre
going to see these guys start to enjoy each other more.
Brandi is probably more interesting a character
than anyone other than the two actual leads in that sheís struggling to
grow and she keeps slipping. Now the big changes in her life have
mostly come as a result of the last few episodes of the first season and
this first time she attended an AA meeting. Could you speak to how you
think those particular events impacted her and how it relates to the way
you play her through those?
Nichole Hiltz: Do you mean since the AA
Nichole Hiltz: Starting, I think, last year
itís huge and what has been interesting about Season Two is that we pick
up right where we left off. So we donít, Brandi does apologize, but I
think sheís still dealing with her boyfriendís death. Iíve really
screwed my sister over several times now and I think sheís had enough.
I think sheís scared, but she doesnít really know what to do. What I
love about the way she stumbles upon the AA meeting; Iím really trying
to go to bat for my mom. Sheís alone a lot and the reason she gets in a
lot of trouble is because she really doesnít have her own life. She
doesnít have a job like Mary. Sheís one of those people who isnít
really; she doesnít have anything that she loves so much to keep her out
of trouble so she keeps either fending for her mom or hanging out with,
back in the days of bad boyfriends, finally get a good boyfriend even
though she doesnít know it yet. I love that she has stumbled upon
something that makes her grow sort of by accident. Sheís not going to
some self-help group and going, ďYes, Iím going to do this, Iím going to
turn around.Ē Itís sort of happening to her just from life and I think
thatís the way real life is. It makes it sort of sweet, very magic.
Itís fun to get the script because I donít really know whatís going to
happen. Itís been amazing to play.
Josh, you kind of got a reputation for playing a
smartest-guy-in-the-room kind of character, however much or little
influence they might have on whatís going on. With Peter thereís also
now empathy. He really feels for Brandi when he thinks sheís Jinx and
itís really apparent. Now thereís this process where he has to deal
with her lying and her apologizing and how does that affect the way you
play the role? Just as a sidebar have you been giving poker lessons to
the cast and crew yet?
Nichole Hiltz: I love that he just said
that, love that.
Joshua Malina: I try to rope people in.
Iíll go to the first part first. Yes watching the episodes I feel like
the characterís kind of a different vibe, a different energy from a lot
of what Iíve played thanks largely in part to Aaron Sorkin casting me so
often. I think youíre right. I do have this rep as playing these kinds
of lawyers and policy wonks and smart guys; I usually donít like to do
interviews because Iíd rather leave the illusion that I am as smart and
good as Aaron tends to make me. Nonetheless this guyís a little bit of
a different feel. Peter is kind of a little bit more low-key. I like
the departure and I do like the story. I know where itís going to go.
I like that he sees, first he thinks heís seeing Brandi for who she is
as an alcoholic struggling with it, but even recognizing the lie and
originally reacting rather badly to it and not taking it very well,
understandably. Heís eventually going to see something in her that heís
really attracted to. I their two other characters are not on paper
people youíd necessarily expect to be drawn to each other, but they both
see something in each other thatís actually pretty nice. As for poker I
think Iíve attempted. I donít think Iíve gotten anyone to actually play
on this set. Iíve been talking to CristiŠn about trying to put together
some sort of; I produced Celebrity Poker and it is a last
memoir. Weíre going to talk about doing something somewhere else,
possibly in Chile. Poker lives and my hopes for it.
Between last season and this season, what was
your most memorable scene?
Nichole Hiltz: Last year I really, really,
eleven and twelve were great episodes, I think, for the family
altogether, but I, it was a very small scene, but I got to do this scene
with a baby, another point where Brandi starts to change a little bit
and I really loved it. The writing was really heartbreaking and it sort
of gave me a connection to my sister that we donít get to hear her say.
It sort of happened out-loud in this experience. That was my favorite
of last year. This year my favorite is with Josh. It has, all of my
favorite stuff has been story lines with Josh. I love the AA stuff for
sure and I canít really talk about the things I love more because they
havenít been seen yet so Iím sorry, but itís our stuff. The chemistry
has been really great and like Josh has said, these characters are so
unlikely and yet so, so perfect for each other in sort of an ironic way.
Joshua, how do you keep your skin so nice?
Joshua Malina: Iím glad you asked. What an
odd question. But for me itís just constant care; youíve got to really
wash it nicely and for me, itís also the use of Dermalogica products.
Come on, Dermalogica, send me a crate.
Nichole Hiltz: You know he wears makeup,
Joshua Malina: Only on camera.
Josh, Iíve only seen the first episode that
youíve done so far, but I know that for the character, AA is such a
vital part of his life and his recovery. Did you visit any AA meetings
or talk to any members to prepare for that?
Joshua Malina: Thatís a good question; I
wish I had a good answer to it. The short answer would be no. But let
me expand on my no and defend it. I certainly have, Iíve got friends
and people I know who are in the program and others who ought to be so I
feel like I know the world fairly well through that. Also a combination
of inclination and laziness; Iím the kind of actor whoís very much letís
see whatís on the page. Iím not like the big back story research guy.
When the writing is really good as Iíve been lucky to have, to do a lot
of good writing and David Maplesí writing is terrific. Iím all about
the text and itís usually all there on the page and my approach to
acting is the character is the guy who says those things in the script I
was just given. So unless itís very specific stuff that really needs to
be researched for me Iíve got to find it in the dialogue.
Speaking of the dialogue, Nichole, I thought
that Brandiís speech at AA exposed a lot about the character. What do
you think she was trying to get across and what do you think she let out
without meaning to?
Nichole Hiltz: Iím not sure that she was
trying to get anything across at all. I think when Peter asks her to
talk all sheís thinking is I just want to get that card signed for my
mom so I can be the dutiful daughter. So I think when she first gets up
there sheís kind of having fun with it. People are clapping and she
thinks sheís just going to amuse herself and make up a little bit of
this speech and try to get by. She becomes nervous and had just heard
Peterís story that was open and touching and I think it just happened
for her because sheís been carrying all of this around between all the
stuff that sheíd gone through last year. Now sheís in this room thatís
open and listening and I donít know that anybodyís ever asked her if
sheís okay or whatís going on. So I think itís a surprise to her. When
we go to the park later sheís like I canít believe I flipped out like
that. I love the way that scene was written. It almost came through her
as opposed to something was at all contrived. So it was innocent and I
think, kind of realistic in a lot of ways.
Following up on the whole alcoholism storyline
for both of you. What Iím really wondering more for Nichole is are we
going to be seeing her go to more AA meetings or is that pretty much
done? I guess I want to see if thatís going to be pursued or if she
thinks she might have an alcohol problem, too.
Nichole Hiltz: I donít think so. Brandiís
certainly not on the straight and narrow, but even the problems, she
would never, we havenít seen her necessarily be an addict. Something
like Al Anon would be a little bit more appropriate for her. The
problems in her life arenít necessarily substance abuse. I think itís
all the emotional things in her life and her family that she canít
figure out and doesnít have the tools to understand it or see the big
picture. Itís going to be more dealing with Jinxís recovery I think. I
donít know that itís Peter and Brandiís relationship becomes a little
bit less about AA and more about two people who can open each other up,
open their eyes up to different things a little bit.
If you knew somebody who wanted to get into
acting as a young person, how would you recommend they start now? What
steps should they take?
Nichole Hiltz: Go ahead, Josh.
Joshua Malina: Okay Iíll open. I actually
have, in all seriousness, in the back of my mind someday to write a
book, the title of which would be Quit Now and Other Practical Advice
for the Aspiring Actor. My opening salvo would be, ďFor the love of
God, do you have any other interest that you could pursue?Ē That being
said, were the young person still passionate about acting I would say
the best thing to do is not focus on really whether youíre going to do
it as a career. As a young person I would say just do it as much as
possible. Do community theater; do your school play, find an
after-school acting thing. Now everybodyís got a video camera so go
make videos with your friends or see if you can get a part in a film
school thing thatís being done. Basically just do it a lot because one,
youíre going to first of all improve. Two, youíre going to discover
whether you really do have the drive to pursue it as a professional and
three, this was very good advice given to me when I was younger: youíre
going to meet the people who are going to turn into the directors and
the writers and the casting people and the producers of the next
generation. So really doing as much as possible on whatever level with
your contemporaries I think is the best way to pursue things.
Nichole Hiltz: And I can agree with
everything that Josh just said and itís a very good point. If you donít
love it then you shouldnít; you have to beyond really love it to really
do it, but you canít figure that out, I guess, until you try
everything. If you only do it half way, I loved it so much when I was
younger and I was lucky enough early on to have maybe somebody give me
advice. But even when I was in school everything I did was so I could
afford to come to L.A. and try this out. I just saw red and focused
quite a bit.
If you were placed in the witness protection
program yourself, where in the world would you like to be located and
Nichole Hiltz: Thatís so unfair because I
donít think you get a choice. Mine would be tropical for sure. I donít
think I have to explain why, but I donít know that that happens.
Otherwise I really want to be in witness protection.
Joshua Malina: Iím thinking Israel because I
would just blend in with my fellows Jews, Jews, Jews. I think I would
be safest there. Ironically, safest in Israel.
What do you feel it is about a show like
In Plain Sight
that resonates well with viewers?
Nichole Hiltz: I think for one itís found a
way to be very funny and sometimes very dark and very real and it has
that great combination. The characters are all so, so different. I
think families can tune in together and the fans seem to really get into
it. So that helps.
Joshua Malina: Speaking as a fan before I
was on the show I would say definitely the cast; itís got a fantastic
cast and you kind of care about everybody. Itís got a pretty wide
selection of characters. Youíve got Maryís home life and her
professional life. Itís pretty compelling. It is funny at the same
time. I think Maples has created a compelling and interesting world.
The first season we saw you being the ďbad
girl.Ē And since that youíve been trying to come back. You fall a
little bit, but youíre trying hard. As the actress playing the role,
which would you rather do? Would you rather have Brandi just fall back
and always be the bad girl or would you rather have her keep trying, but
not necessarily making it?
Nichole Hiltz: I donít want to always be the
bad girl and I donít view her as the bad girl. I canít come from a
place like that. Sheís a girl who gets into trouble; Ö just have a
different life than some of the other characters. It is so much more
fun to play somebody whoís growing. If she was always, always in
trouble and didnít make any steps forward it would be exhausting. As an
actor some of the deeper stuff to play is when you fall down so I get
more interesting scenes when she does sometimes, but it would take quite
a toll at the same time. I cheer for her when she does right and I fall
into a bit of a funk sometimes when she goes back. No, I think people,
you donít change over night; sheís not going to become a completely
different person. I think sheís always going to bump her head on the
wall, but hopefully just less often and eventually get there like people
do. Except for if youíre Josh Malina then you get to be right all the
time and youíre perfect.
Joshua Malina: Itís not easy.
Nichole Hiltz: No itís not.
Josh, my question for you is obviously you canít
say what happens in the future of this role, but in the scope of you
playing it, you said you donít do a lot of research. But in the scope
of how you play this role, do you play it like it is only for a few
episodes or are you playing it like youíre here for the duration along
with the rest of the characters on the show?
Joshua Malina: Definitely the latter because
God knows I want to be around. There is that concern sometimes about
giving that guest star performance Ė Iíve got one shot at it; Iíve got
to make this a very special episode of In Plain Sight. So Iím
trying to lay down a fairly low-key performance with this guy so he
seems like a realistic guy who lives in this world and is in Albuquerque
and interacts with these characters. Without giving away too much I can
say that I was delighted that in the final script I did not walk into an
open elevator shaft and die. My hope is, although I donít know whether
my hope, my dream, will be answered, but I hope I may, in fact, appear
at some point next season.
Nichole Hiltz: Itíll break my TV heart. Of
course youíre back; they canít do that to me.
Joshua Malina: Weíll see.
So whatís your favorite part about being on the
show, both of you?
Joshua Malina: For me it was pure fun. As I
mentioned, it came out of the blue as a text from Mary McCormack, one of
my favorite people in the world. So it was really along the lines of,
ďDo you want to come play in my sandbox?Ē It was a pure delight for me,
completely unexpected. This came out of the blue and then happened very
quickly and all of a sudden I was shuttling back and forth to
Albuquerque with Nichole, whom I love, and all these nice people and
great material. So for me itís just pure fun. I like working
altogether and being an actor. With my career thereís a lot of
downtime. So just having a job is a wonderful thing, but when itís good
material, which is rarer still and good people and the set is relaxed.
I literally would just fly out there and play with my new friends and
fly back home. So the whole thingís been a joy for me.
Nichole Hiltz: For me I have to say that I
have to give a huge shout-out to David Maples because I didnít really
know what Brandi would be or to come. At first it was just wonderful.
I learn a lot on this set and from Mary and from Lesley. We have great
guest stars, some really great guest stars this year and new directors
every week. But I am very lucky to David Maples, whoís so good at
writing for his actors and he can take something that; I think he
actually steals from my real life sometimes and then tries to put a
different story on it and knows what will touch me or what will be fun.
I feel very taken care of that way. The writing gets bigger and grows
and thatís a huge gift as an actor. Heís not putting her in a box and
heís letting her grow. Thatís been the best part for me.
From what do you draw your inspiration and the
portrayal of your characters?
Joshua Malina: Both of us?
Joshua Malina: Again and I know this is such
a lame answer, but itís a really candid answer. Itís from the scripts.
When the writing is good itís all there. Usually if I find myself
trying to dig around with, ďWhat was this guy like as a kid? Why is he
here now?Ē Itís usually because that stuff isnít baked into the
dialogue. When the writingís good I feel like itís usually there. I
donít have to go hunting around for inspiration. David Maples and I had
exchanged a few e-mails where he kind of described who the guy was and
where he was at at the opening and where he thought heíd take him. I
was delighted to see when I got the final material that itís kind of
just all there on the page. When the writing is good thatís all the
inspiration I need.
Nichole Hiltz: For me especially with this
show itís a thousand percent in the writing. We had to do a lot of that
work last year when we were on the pilot and getting on our feet as any
new show, figuring things out. At this point itís, I sometimes read the
scripts and cry and immediately laughing and I already know. Itís easy
for me to stay, not stay, but pick her back up from last year. You
donít have to do a lot of work with this writing. I shouldnít say that,
maybe I wonít get paid anymore.
Nichole, how do you think things would have
panned out if it were Brandi that killed Chuck instead of Mary?
Nichole Hiltz: If it didnít go down the way
it did and everybody survived and just became a murderer and on my own
killed him or if it happened the way it went for Mary in a kidnapping
Yes if you became a murderer basically.
Nichole Hiltz: Thatís another whole avenue.
I guess if I was avenging my sister then Iíd be in a whole different
load of trouble, but I think she actually does mean that. I think if
she didnít know the way things were going to turn out; Brandiís not
somebody who always thinks the entire situation out. I think Iíd be in
jail so I donít know. Iím glad it happened this other way. Itís
shocking that she would get a second chance at all so I do have the
opportunity to see her unravel and how she grows like that. Iím not
sure really, it scares me. Especially about Brandi murdering people.
Iím curious, will Wanda be in the next
Trailer Park Boys
Nichole Hiltz: So far no offers; I donít
think so. I did have fun working on that and I wish them all the best
of luck; itís a fun show, fun film. Thanks for asking.
Nichole, Jinx has such an interesting
storyline. What is Lesley Anne like to work with?
Nichole Hiltz: I love working with Lesley.
Weíre together a lot; we get a lot of scenes with just the two of us.
Sheís an actorís actor. She loves to talk about the scene. She loves
to do deep emotional work. Sheís been supportive. We help each other
out, but she really helps me out if Iím struggling sometimes. Sheís
supportive and sheís actually really fun. I look forward to seeing her;
I miss her when sheís not in episodes. Itís been a real treat getting
to work with her.
Joshua Malina: Can I toss out a Lesley Anne
Joshua Malina: I had a great moment with
her. My sister likes to buy me these fantastic, Iím going to give a
shout out even to the Web site, the Web siteís on threadlist.com. They
make these really funny novelty t-shirts, a lot of which are nostalgic.
My sisterís constantly sending me these t-shirts. I have one thatís
from Clue, the game and the movie. I think it says, ďIt was Miss
Scarlet with a revolver in the study,Ē or something like that and I was
wearing it on the set as we rehearsed.
Nichole Hiltz: I missed it.
Joshua Malina: It was really cute; Lesley
Anne kind of was standing next to me and she kind of under her breath
said, ďI was Miss Scarlet.Ē I had this moment of, ďOh, my god, holy
shit, Iím working with Miss Scarlet.Ē I didnít wear it for that reason...
Nichole Hiltz: I thought you wore it on
Joshua Malina: It hadnít even crossed my
mind that in the movie she was, in fact, Miss Scarlet. I was impressed
when I first met her; I was doubly so after she pointed it out. I was
like, ďoh my god, itís Miss Scarlet.Ē
Josh, like you mentioned you know Mary from
The West Wing and I was seeing that Richard Schiff is going to be on the show as
well. Any other former
West Wing people going to be on the show that youíve heard about?
Joshua Malina: Thatís a very good question.
I think slowly one-by-one I guess everyone. We should be able to get a
Dulť Hill guest star. Heís already working for USA [in the series
Psych]. I think itís all a very nice reflection on Mary, who likes
to bring us in and play with her old friends. But I did see Richard, I
donít really get to interact with him on camera, but I did see him. We
are in the same episode. It was really, really nice all to be
together. It was fun for the three of us.
Whatís the hardest part about working on the
show for the both of you?
Joshua Malina: Iíll go first. Actingís so
damn easy. Thatís probably a secret and Iím not supposed to say.
Actually thatís we both have to pause like hmm the hardest part. Itís
the easiest job in the world. That being said for me Iím married and I
have two kids and the show shoots in Albuquerque so thereís a lot of
back-and-forth. For me itís the traveling, getting out there and being
away from my wife and family although they enjoy eating and wearing
clothes so they understand that Daddy has to work.
Nichole Hiltz: You stole my answer. The
most difficult part; itís hard being away from home. I donít have a
wife and kids, but it doesnít matter. Maybe some day Iíll have a wife
and kids. I was out there for a good five months. Itís not that itís
so hard being there, but your life at home doesnít stop either so you
miss family and friends and you feel like youíre sort of balancing two
lives at the same time. I love submersing myself in the show and being
out there. I always think Iím going to read so many books and Iím going
to get so much done when Iím in Albuquerque and it just never happens
that way. Things really are still busy. Thank God itís an
hour-and-a-half away. Thank you Southwest.
Josh, you mentioned earlier about being a fan of
the show. This is for both of you. Do you watch your performances
after the fact? Do you sit down and watch the episodes or is that hard
Joshua Malina: My answer is early on in my
career, watching myself was a highlight. I was like, ďIím going to be
on TV,Ē or ďIím in a movie.Ē Couldnít wait to see it; couldnít wait to
watch it multiple times. I donít know why, but that is not so much the
case any more. Maybe itís watching myself age onscreen is not something
Iím too interested in, but somewhere mid-West Wing I started to
realize that the show coming on; I was always excited that a new show
was airing, but I didnít really feel like watching it. And I think itís
one of the things where I just turned into one of those actors where I
watch it and Iím like, ďWhy did I do that, why didnít I do this?Ē
Everything is usually just like, ďI thought I was better than this.Ē
That being said I did go ahead and avoided it for five days, but having
Tivoíd it I sat down and watched the first In Plain Sight that
Nichole and I had and I really enjoyed it. I was very happy with the
whole thing so that was a rare, these days, surprise.
Nichole Hiltz: Iím the same way; Iím
actually more judgmental of myself as I get older and as I see it more.
With In Plain Sight I do sit down and watch them; I actually get
very excited because whatís been a lot of fun about playing this role
and then some of the show is that I donít really know what Mary does for
a living and even though Iíve read the scripts, my character isnít on
the set for any of that. So half the show is completely new to me. I
love watching Mary; I love watching all the WITSEC stuff and then I sort
of know that my scenes are coming. I hate the moments where I trusted
myself to on set feel like I know if Iíve done a good enough job or I
knocked it out of the park and then I sometimes watch it and itís the
same thing, ďI thought I did better than that.Ē I have a really hard
time watching my own mannerisms, things like that, but endpoint is I do
sit down to watch because Iím rooting for the whole show and I love
watching all the other actors and to see them on-set and embrace and
love them, but I donít get to always see their work.
This question is for both of you. If not
acting, what would you be doing?
Joshua Malina: Modeling skin care products.
No, enough of that. Do you have an answer; do you want to go first?
Nichole Hiltz: Either that or a rock star,
but Iíd have to see if I was good at it. I have no other skills. This
is the hardest question you could ever ask me. Iím not good at anything
else any more. I put all my eggs in one basket. Iím good at being fun.
Joshua Malina: Are you done? I donít want to
be rude. My standard answer is that I would be a novelist. I never
possibly actually could, but Iím a big reader and Iím always blown away
by novelists and their ability to create entire worlds. That being said
I never could actually so a more realistic answer, I think I would still
stay in the business as maybe a screenwriter or a TV writer or something
What would your ultimate dream role be both of
Nichole Hiltz: Cat Woman.
Joshua Malina: Good answer. My ultimate
dream role was Chaplin, but Robert Downey, Jr., played it already. And
he was great.
Nichole Hiltz: And Michelle Pfeiffer...
Joshua Malina: So he doubly ruined in my
dream by actually executing it and being better than I ever would have
been. So itís over, Iíve moved on. My new dream role would be to play
Groucho. Iím a classic comedian fan, what can I say?
Nichole Hiltz: Iím learning a lot about you.
Joshua Malina: Iím old; you knew that.
Whatís been your favorite role that youíve
played so far?
Joshua Malina: Thatís a tough one. Iíve got
to figure out what writer/producer Iím willing to alienate.
Nichole Hiltz: What show am I not coming
Joshua Malina: Itís hard to say, but Iíll go
for it anyway. I think for me it might have been Jeremy on Sports
Night, not only because it was an incredibly great character that
Aaron created, but that combined with the fact that it was my first
major TV role and I was just a couple years married and my daughter had
just been born. The entire experience of playing that role and having
that show and the time in my life when it occurred I think made the
whole thing kind of a special golden memory.
Nichole Hiltz: I have to say and not because
weíre on this conference, but how can I not say Brandi? This whole show
has been pretty life-changing altogether. Iíve gotten such good stuff,
such good writing. In addition to that I did a movie, surprisingly
called Trailer Park of Terror that had been; it was so great to
play because I got to be a comic book character so had that aspect of
it. I got to play sort of three roles in one. Itís hard to explain if
you havenít seen the film. It was great; it was great for a female.
You donít get a lot of opportunities like that. Brandi and Norma, my
Would either of you ever be interested in
writing or directing for the show if you had a chance?
Nichole Hiltz: I could not handle that
pressure. I love getting my script like itís Christmastime and itís a
gift playing it. Weíre doing so well why would I ruin a good thing?
Maybe something different, but not In Plain Sight.
Joshua Malina: That would be my answer as
well. I do write things; I never do anything with them, but I think I
am on the verge of possibly selling and producing a Web series that I
wrote, but it would be different in tone, more kind of surreal, madcap
if you will, comedy. I donít think I could write an In Plain Sight.
Nichole Hiltz: Iím not genius enough like
Joshua Malina: Exactly. Did you hear that,
David? We called you genius.
Nichole Hiltz: I said it loud; he can hear
Whatís the name of your Web series so if you do
put it out there weíll know about it?
Joshua Malina: Itís currently, weíll have to
see whether the people putting up the money will allow it, but itís
currently called ďBackwash,Ē which is a lovely Ö.
Nichole Hiltz: Tell me more.
Joshua Malina: Thank you for asking,
Nichole. I call it ďBackwashĒ largely because I like that phrase. Itís
kind of icky and memorable, but for the press, I can give you an
explanation, which is backwash is that final sip at the bottom of a can
of Coke or the bottom of your drink, which, though tasting vaguely
everything that came before it, is nonetheless its own thing in its own
right. And that is my explanation.
Nichole Hiltz: And this is why you get cast
as the super intelligent guy all the time.
Joshua Malina: Or the guy who makes no
Nichole Hiltz: Or deeper than I thought.
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT JOSHUA MALINA HAD TO SAY TO
US IN 2003!
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