Thank Bradley Whitford for bringing back the mustached cop. The new Fox series The Good Guys casts him as a has-been cop paired up with a young hotshot (Colin Hanks). Whitford participated in a conference call with the media to discuss the action comedy which runs this summer on Fox.
Q: Is your character too old for this sh*t?
Bradley Whitford: Yes, absolutely.
Q: What is the story behind your moustache?
Bradley Whitford: The big old thing. No, I am more proud than anything, anything I’ve done professionally, my children or anything, of my ability to grow facial hair. No, look, a cop with a moustache, a cop with a bright future behind him with a moustache, it just seemed like an absolute requirement going into this. The attention it’s getting, I’m jealous of the moustache.
Q: What is it like filming in Dallas?
Bradley Whitford: They’re very used to gunfire in Texas.
Q: Dan could’ve become a caricature pretty easily. How do you keep him balanced and real?
Bradley Whitford: Oh God, I have no idea. With material like this which is the kind of material that I love, that kind of aspires to a sort of Elmore Leonard or one of my favorite movies of all time, Raising Arizona kind of aesthetic, you’re constantly worried about [going too far]. Although I generally burst out laughing but they think that’s a little too much. You are kind of playing around with somebody who’s out there but yet keep it real and make the stakes really huge, but mostly you’re just having fun.
Q: Since this show is coming on during the summer, what would you tell people to get them to come inside and watch the show?
Bradley Whitford: Air conditioning’s pretty sweet. Anything else? I would just say there’s nothing more important than for families to stop talking to each other and stare at the television. Yeah, there’s way too much connecting going on out there. Just watch the TV, America.
Q: What attracted you to your character?
Bradley Whitford: Lusty, unhinged post-alcoholic.
Q: How much fun are you having on this show?
Bradley Whitford: Yeah, this guy is operating from his reptilian brain stem. I hope it’s not a pretentious analogy or comparison but there was a playwright I worked with who said the most interesting people were people who had given up on attaining what they thought they were going to attain in life. When you have a guy who’s sort of realized he loves what he does but Plan A is definitely not going to work. He’s a really open persona. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s a blast.
Q: Is it fun on the set?
Bradley Whitford: I always joke that all the years of television I’ve done, I feel like truly the cameras are pointed the wrong way. It’s certainly true in this situation that we have really a lovely fun group of people working on this. I can’t function, I don’t think anybody really can creatively in sort of a hostile “versus” situation. I felt with Colin, the moment he walked in the room for the audition, “Oh, I know this guy.” That part of it’s always been there but we’re not kidding, the crew makes a huge difference. I do want to add though there’s one really painful thing in this. When Colin ran off and got married, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced betrayal like that.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of shooting The Good Guys.
Bradley Whitford: I would agree the trickiest thing is we’re not making Naked Gun, but it needs to be funny. I woke up in the middle of the night when we were doing the pilot thinking, “Oh my God, I jumped the shark in the teaser of the pilot.” So that is the scariest thing. And there is a part of me that you do want to be generous with the laughs.
Q: Is comic timing natural to you?
Bradley Whitford: No, I work with Colin on that every day. A lot of this is a reflection of Matt Nix’s kind of funky aesthetic, and partially by necessity because they picked up Burn Notice for an unprecedented 25 years. But he’s incredibly collaborative and wants everybody, his writers, the props guy, he really is remarkably comfortable and it tends to be his only criteria is: did that make me laugh? If somebody else comes up with it, he’s thrilled. I know Colin and I both had the same [experience]. You read a lot of stuff, a lot of scripts and just reading these scripts can be grim. You find I go through the five stages of death. You’re reading a script and you’re kind of in denial that it’s terrible. Then ultimately there’s acceptance of oh, this is just horrible. But with this script, you ripped through it and find yourself laughing out loud. I really like the mix of there’s something very contemporary and current about Matt’s sense of humor. But it’s overlayed on this kind of retro very generous to the audience, we’re not here to teach you, we’re not here to serve you vegetables. We’re here to have fun with you, old time showbiz aesthetic that was a very good mix.
Q: What do you do to prepare on set?
Bradley Whitford: I think I can speak for us both on this. It’s defense we’re playing. Everything you’re talking about is offense. The pace of this is so quick and the level of the pressure to get things done quickly doesn’t give you any sort of conventional way to prepare. The odd thing is there could be real advantages in that. You’ll hear directors like Clint Eastwood, he does interesting movies because they’re fast. He likes to get them done with. He believes you get an immediacy and lack of pressure if you shoot things fast, but we’re under the gun a lot. Our goal is not to do this well. Our goal is basic human dignity.