During our recent video chat (watch below), Emmy winner Bradley Whitford (“The West Wing”) confides that “the prospect of putting on a dress was terrifying for his guest role on “Transparent.” But, as he explains, roles like this help advocate for broader understanding. “The most powerful thing we can do as actors is put flesh and hart and humanity into what for a lot of people understandably is an abstract, scary, alien world.”
On the scene in the series where Mark introduces his female identity Marcy to Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura, Whitford reveals “at that point I felt very safe with Jeffrey, but in a weird way it was very… terrifying for me to come out in a dress. It’s one of those moments when you’re acting where the circumstances of shooting it are taking you right to the feelings of where your character is. So it was really emotionally scary.”
As to whether he embraced that fear, he admits: “I was at a moment where I really wanted to be scared. The problem in Hollywood is often you’re cast as something you can do and there’s a particular joy to that. But it is challenging and exciting and there was a kind of mid-life acting crisis of ‘yeah I want to do something scary, let’s shave our legs!”
Whitford, who just won the Critics’ Choice TV Award for this guest appearance, also has a supporting role in Showtime’s new series “Happyish.” He plays advertising executive Jonathan Cooke, a part he says came with it’s own set of fears.
In the fourth episode, Jonathan invokes the Nazis and their brand to try and win the Coca Cola account. As he explains, “it was scary because there’s a bunch of Germans in there. I don’t speak German but we all felt like it was really important and funnier if he really had fantastic German pronunciation. So we had somebody there at the set and it was a little hairy doing it.” As for the the content of the sales pitch, which he deems an “uncomfortable truth,” Whitford explains: “I turned on CNN the other day… we’re hearing a lot of things about the marketing brilliance of ISIS. It’s a very strange world. Certainly it was something the Nazis understood.”
Watch our interview below to learn more about Whitford’s take on “Transparent,” the joys of “Happyish” and his memories of “The West Wing.” Then use the easy drag-and-drop menu to tell us if you think he will be nominated as Comedy Guest Actor for “Transparent.” Or click here to make your prediction and compete in our contest to win $500, $300 and $200 prizes for best picks.