Christopher McDonald interview: ‘Hacks’

“I didn’t even know that was the day,” recalls actor Christopher McDonald about his shock when he heard the news that he received his first Emmy Award nomination for his role on HBO Max’s “Hacks.” The actor describes how the “love poured in” that morning and says, “It’s amazing to get this kind of recognition… I’m over the moon, actually, it’s just fantastic.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

McDonald has been appearing on the series since the very first episode as the charming and sly Marty, the CEO of the Palmetto in Las Vegas where Jean Smart’s standup comedian Deborah Vance once had a successful residency. The first season depicts the two characters’ hilariously antagonistic professional relationship while offering glimpses into their close friendship and romantic past. In Season 2, Marty breaks the news to Deborah that he has a new girlfriend, and in the season finale, he announces their engagement. The actor submitted that episode, titled “The One, The Only,” on the Emmy ballot precisely because “you get to see the whole relationship… you see there’s connection, there’s frustration.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Emmy nominee Jean Smart, ‘Hacks’ Season 2

McDonald’s submission begins with an intense auction scene in which Deborah outbids Marty for a Kandinsky sketch on paper. He discusses the rehearsal process for that “tricky” fast-paced sequence, describing how it took the cast and crew “a minute or two to get the whole machine working, because when it’s cut together so beautifully as it was… it’s great.” The actor appears in the following scene, too, in which Marty reveals his engagement and Deborah offers to give him the piece in exchange for the Palmetto stage to film her new special. He picked this episode as his submission for this scene in particular because “that’s really one-on-one and there’s a lot of things at stake and play there.”

The acclaimed actor of stage and screen shares most of his scenes with the Emmy-winning Smart, an opportunity he relishes. “She’s got the comic genius and a heart as big as Texas. We have strong feelings for each other as Marty and Deborah, but also as Chris and Jean,” shares McDonald. He continues, “Working with Jean is an absolutely joy. We giggle off camera and then we start rolling… we also surprise each other.” Although the veteran hasn’t appeared opposite many of the other ensemble members, he hopes to get the chance to play with fellow Emmy-nominee Hannah Einbinder, who he describes as “such a riot.” He thinks back on the first and second season finales and remembers “crying” because Deborah and Ava’s “connection is just a jewel to watch.”

WATCH our exclusive video interview with Emmy nominee Hannah Einbinder, ‘Hacks’ Season 2

Reflecting on what attracted him to “Hacks” when the series began production, McDonald points to Marty’s complexity. “It showed Marty as a kind of a duplicitous guy,” remembers the actor of his first scene on the show, in which he tries to sugarcoat the news that Deborah will lose her weekend performances. Although the character has seen a lot of battle over the years, the performer notes how it’s different with Deborah: “This is not the first dance you have to do, but not with this woman. This woman’s tough!”

Although the newly-minted Emmy nominee for Comedy Guest Actor cannot divulge any details about the forthcoming third season of “Hacks,” he does share his thoughts on what he’d like to see for Marty. “I get hoodwinked by my betrothed and find out that there’s some duplicitous stuff going on, and I just kind of blow up,” pitches McDonald. He shares he excitement that the show will relocated back to Vegas for the new episodes — Season 2 took place predominantly on the road as Deborah tests out new material — because that will give him “more access” and bring Marty back into the fold. For now, though, he takes a moment to applaud the “Emmy love” for the series: “There’s four guest-starring actress from that show… they’re each one fantastic. I applaud our crew behind the scenes… It’s really good writing.”

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UPLOADED Jul 22, 2022 3:32 pm