Mark Duplass Interview: ‘The Morning Show’

Mark Duplass earned his second career Emmy nomination — and first in acting — for Best Drama Supporting Actor for “The Morning Show” and he didn’t even realize it at first.

“I got some texts from some friends of mine saying ‘Congratulations on the nomination,'” Duplass told Gold Derby (watch above). “[That] was kind of the language, which I assumed was the show itself getting nominated [for Best Drama Series] because that was what was supposed to happen or what was plausible to happen, I guess I should say. And I really didn’t expect anything. I’m not saying that to be falsely modest — I just didn’t expect it — and then another one said, ‘No, congratulations, you got nominated.’ And then I started looking it up furiously on the internet, going, ‘I don’t see it anywhere.’ And I finally found a PDF that had my name on it about 10 minutes later.”

The filmmaker is up against his co-star Billy Crudup, Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”), Bradley Whitford (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”), and “Succession” trio Nicholas Braun, Kieran Culkin and Matthew Macfadyen. He’s entered the finale, “The Interview,” as his episode submission, in which we learn that Chip (Duplass), the put-upon, stressed-out executive producer of the show-within-a-show’s “The Morning Show,” was the one who leaked the Mitch (Steve Carell) story, about his predatory behavior, to “The New York Times.” Chip reveals this in a voicemail to Alex (Jennifer Aniston), explaining that she was about to be axed and he wanted to save her job. Having been fired — not to mention, having literally just fought Mitch — Chip achingly punctuates it with “It was always for you,” which Duplass intentionally played as romantic.

“He’ll do whatever is required to skate around issues or keep issues quiet to get that show rolling. But his big Achilles’ heel is the way he feels about Alex. I think he is secretly in love with her and I think he doesn’t even fully know it,” Duplass explained. “And for me, the idea that the reason he leaked this information to the ‘Times’ is he knew they were going to get rid of Alex and figured if Mitch went first, they wouldn’t get rid of two of them at the same time, so it would save Alex. And what I like about that is that that goes against his better judgment for producing the show; that gets into something more personal. So I thought that was really cool to play that torch for Alex through the whole thing.”

This sort-of love confession happens concurrently with Chip reckoning with his own complicity in allowing a toxic culture to build under his watch by turning a blind eye. Duplass, who founded Duplass Brothers Productions with his brother Jay, likes that the self-reflective journey Chip undergoes “is a journey that a lot of people are undergoing right now in this moment, which is ‘I probably didn’t do enough.'”

“He’s having a massive crisis of conscience about who he is as a person in a position of authority as a white male in this industry, which is, I think, to me, the element of great interest if I’m an audience member watching it,” Duplass said. “The story of a guy who has really rested on his laurels to a certain degree, believing that he’s a good guy and he’s on the right side of the story because he generally is nice to and is respectful of the women in the workplace, and he’s certainly not committing the horrendous acts that the other white males in power are committing. [He’s realized] just to be passively not evil is not enough.”

He added: “I liked the growth of Chip to be able to admit that and say that because to me that means that’s a person who is struggling towards integrity and knows he wants to get there, but doesn’t really know how to get there because the business doesn’t reward that.”

Duplass won an Emmy two years ago as an executive producer of Best Documentary or Nonfiction Series champ “Wild Wild Country,” after which he returned home for an after-party with his family consisting of donuts and swimming. He has “no idea” how this year’s virtual ceremony will go down, but donut do not another rule out another dough-heavy night for him.

“There’s a small part of me that misses being a part of the big tradition, just to have done it once, to be nominated at the big ceremony as an actor, and the tuxedo. That’s kind of cool. But I think more my speed in general is — my kids are 12 and 8 right now and so fun to hang out with. The idea that I can just be home, relaxed and be with them and farting around is probably more me anyway,” he shared. “We’re gonna do a round of pizza at first and then there’s going to be the donuts.”

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UPLOADED Aug 17, 2020 12:18 pm