Mark Duplass Interview: ‘The Morning Show’
“I sort of immediately fell in love with the character of Chip Black because he struck me as this nervous Captain Kirk trying to keep the ship of ‘The Morning Show’ afloat,” says actor Mark Duplass about his role as a TV producer navigating a public scandal after one of his anchors (Steve Carell) is fired due to allegations of sexual misconduct. “The Morning Show” just set sail on November 1 as one of the flagship shows of the new Apple TV+ streaming service. Watch our exclusive video interview with Duplass above.
“The Morning Show” tells a fictional story set amid the very real #MeToo era as the worlds of media, business, politics and more reckon with the abuses women have suffered usually at the hands of powerful men, but it bears some resemblance to the real scandals that have felled morning-TV personalities like Matt Lauer and Charlie Rose. This particular story is told from the point of view of women, specifically co-anchor Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) and outsider Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), who is pulled into the power struggle.
The showrunner for “The Morning Show” is also a woman (Kerry Ehrin), as is the directing producer (Mimi Leder). Being on “a female-led show that tries to do an in-depth dive about power struggles in the workplace through the lens of a #MeToo story,” what Duplass especially appreciated was the show’s ambition: “Let’s take 10 hours to do this, 10 hour-long episodes. We’re not going to do this in a headline. We’re not going to do this in a five-page article. We’re going to have a huge cast so that you can examine not only the victim and the victimizer, but the people around who are in positions of power, the people who aren’t in positions of power … That seemed really cool and it seemed really cool that it was led by women.”
In addition to his acting career, Duplass is himself also a writer, director and producer, so he could relate to some of the challenges Chip faced in the world of media. “For better or worse in most corporate environments, in order to get what you want to rise to the top, you have to lie, cheat, kick and steal, and Chip has tried to avoid that in the past but it’s getting harder and harder for him,” he explains. When you’re trying to get ahead in media “you come up against a lot of moral and ethical challenges about what is quote-unquote ‘the right thing to do.'” For Duplass, that has “actually gotten easier” over time, but not necessarily for Chip: “He’s in way over his head.”
Meanwhile, as the characters in “The Morning Show” battle for power in daytime TV, Apple is battling for power in the world of streaming as it takes on not only Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, but also Disney+. The so-called streaming wars are something Duplass has complex feelings about as someone who has contributed to a wide range of outlets including Netflix, HBO and now Apple.
“I’m a streaming slut,” Duplass jokes. More seriously, though, he worries about the ways in which the battle for viewers and subscription dollars can “devalue” the shows and movies being made, “but for a creator like me who’s trying to be niche and retain his vision, it’s ultimately been a blessing.”