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Joshua Malina and Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'

Nichole Hiltz and Joshua Malina

Bonding In Plain Sight

by Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: May 22, 2009.

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 kidnapped. 

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 discuss their show.

Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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. 

Joshua Malina in 'In Plain Sight.'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 happened. 

Joshua Malina: Maybe that was just in my head. 

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 Brandi perfectly? 

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 Malina and Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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 meeting? 

Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'Cumulative. 

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. 

Mary McCormack, Lesley Anne Warren and Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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, right? 

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. 

Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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 why? 

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. 

Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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. 

Lesley Anne Warren and Nichole Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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 Hiltz in 'In Plain Sight.'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 situation? 

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 movie? 

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 moment? 


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 purpose. 

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 to do? 

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 like that. 

What would your ultimate dream role be both of you? 

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 back to? 

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 favorites. 

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 David Maples. 

Joshua Malina: Exactly.  Did you hear that, David?  We called you genius. 

Nichole Hiltz: I said it loud; he can hear it. 

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 sense. 

Nichole Hiltz: Or deeper than I thought.


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