Legends collide for new show
Blunt Talk is a 10-episode half-hour series, set in Los Angeles, follows Walter Blunt, played by Patrick Stewart, a British import intent on conquering the world of American cable news. Through the platform of his nightly news show, Blunt is on a mission to impart his wisdom and guidance on how Americans should live, think and behave. Besieged by network bosses, a dysfunctional news staff, numerous ex-wives, children of all ages, and his own well intentioned, but sometimes misguided decisions, Blunt’s only support is in the form of the heavy-drinking, devoted manservant he transplanted from the U.K. Read what stars Jacki Weaver and Sir Patrick Stewart had to say about their latest project.
Q: So what is it like to spoon Patrick Stewart?
A: It was very pleasant and I didn’t actually make contact with his nipple. I couldn’t get leverage so I needed my leg to anchor me.
Q: Can you speak to the relationship to your character and Patrick Stewart’s?
A: Well I think that it is a symbiotic relationship that they have, Patrick and Rosalie, one that goes back professionally 20 years but we will find out that it was also intimate. They were intimate and they were lovers and they have become –even though they have become detached in one way, they have stayed attached always in another way, emotionally and professionally. And so, she is his rock and we have seen that so far but later on in the series you will see where the tables are turned and she really needs him and he comes to the party and supports her just as well as she does.
Q: What drew you to the role when it came your way?
A: Well it was Jonathan. I accepted before there was even a script written because I was such a fan of his and I went to lunch to him and he explained the premise of the show was and what the character was like and I said yeah I am there. It was a very good lunch too, he bought me a very nice lunch.
Q: How do you view Rosalie as a character?
A: Well, she is very tough boss lady who is an Emmy Award Winning current affairs producer. A long time experienced journalist who also has a very tender hearted side who loves her husband deeply even though she is having an affair with a 24 year old…Rosalie is complex. I like her because she has many floors like we all do. And yet there is something admirable about the way she looks after some people, especially her husband.
Q: And when reading the script that shocked you?
A: Well, at this great age I am largely unschockable. I have seen just about everything but I won’t say I wasn’t surprised at some of the thing.
Q: Are you having as much as it looks like playing this role?
A: More. I have been in this industry for 55 years now and I don’t think I have worked harder or had as much fun on this show. It is partly because we have very clever scripts that are very entertaining, fun to speak, but I am surrounded by awesomely funny actors; people who have made their careers about being funny…I always wanted to do comedy but years ago I had written it off. Let me give you an illustration. I have been in the production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” five times. What have a played? Oberon, king of the fairies twice, Duke Theseus twice, and I played Snug the Tinker in a very famous Peter Brooke production. All I wanted to play was to play the comic character…maybe that is about to change. But I have wanted to dip my toe into this world and having dipped my toe in it for the past 10 years, I am content in staying put.
Q: At this point in your career, what else is left that you want to do? What haven’t you done?
A: Well, first of all, live long enough to do these things. I mean at the moment I am healthy so I don’t see why not but still 75 is 75. There are some great classical roles that I want to play. King Lear for instance…I would really like to find some brilliant original, unique film script but then every other actor who is in movies is looking for the exact same script and there are usually only two or three of them a year that come up. I want to do more comedy on stage if I can. I would like to sing more if I can. I am singing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra next month and we are doing a concept version of “My Fair Lady” which I have always wanted to do. I will never play the role now because I am much too old but I at least going to do it in concert which will be fun…But I would like to do one major musical before I hang up my makeup kit, I don’t know what it would be, but I would have loved, I would have given anything to play Sweeney Todd…I did do it in concert though with the wonderful Lynn Redgrave.
Q: I was picturing you as Judge Turpin when you were being whipped like that in the show.
A: Here’s my plan. I am continually trying to persuade Hugh Jackman that one of the major roles that Hugh Jackman must have lined up for himself is Sweeney. He would be an incredible—with that voice and that acting ability and the way that he looks, he would be a terrifying Sweeney Todd. But the condition is that I get to play the judge.
Q: Speaking of Hugh Jackman, “Wolverine 3,” do you think is the end of the original cast?
A: Well, they are in the middle of filming. I went up there to Montreal a couple of weeks ago. The X-Men movie will be inhabited by Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy; the youngsters. Not Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. But there is, I am told, a Wolverine movie in development that would include Charles Xavier but a very different Charles Xavier that we have seen before. And I don’t know quite what that means but I am very, very excited about that. I love Hugh and I love working with him. And James Mangold is set to direct so we shall see.
Q: And being on Starz, there is a lot of leniency about what you can do and say. So can you talk about what it is like being in an environment where you can get away with so much?
A: It is liberating. We don’t have to have sensors. I am sure there are such people but they don’t hang around on set giving us a bad time. This show could not exist as a network show, impossible. But we are, I like to think, following in the footsteps of some great comedians who have paved the way for us and being able to talk about things that we could not talk about on any kind of television once upon a time. That there is humor in personal experiences and especially in the way that female comics have investigating the lives of female women from the very person, sexual, bodily function way that inly five years ago you could not see and it would not have happened and it is thrilling.
The STARZ original series “BLUNT TALK” premieres Saturday, August 22.