Mark Duplass spoke with Solzy at the Movies about playing executive producer Charlie “Chip” Black on the Apple TV+ drama, The Morning Show.
Duplass can also be seen later this year in Bombshell opposite Charlize Theron.
What was it about The Morning Show that attracted you to the character of Chip?
Mark Duplass: The main attraction was the chance to work with Jen and Reese while they were kind of at the helm of the ship. They’re producers on the show. This is really their baby and something that they’re very passionate about. I was really struck by how they’re kind of that place in their careers where I think that they could just be cashing checks as actors. They don’t need to produce to prove anything and they really wanted to tell the story. I just wanted to be a part of it with them.
In watching the first three episodes, Chip seems to have an agenda of his own.
Mark Duplass: The basic thing you need to know about Chip when you’re watching the show is that he’s probably one of the most stressed out people on the planet. He’s trying to keep a morning show alive, which is stressful enough, but he’s doing it in the middle of this massive controversy. He’s trying to keep it together. I think that, beyond that, I don’t want to say too much about what’s going on with Chip because I think that’s part of the plotting of the show. We don’t want to spoil any of that. One of the things that the show tries to do is to show how everyone there in that culture had a place and had a part in what went down whether it was that they saw something and they didn’t say something or they knew something and they hid it or were they actively involved in it. It takes ten hours to examine this whole culture of how could something like this could happen for so long without anyone saying anything.
What type of research did you do for the role?
Mark Duplass: I’m not a big researcher. I like to sort of interpret things as if I were the person inside of them. But for this role, you definitely have to know what the sort of more mundane and congenial logistics are of how to be a producer for the show. We had some consultants who came in and basically showed us what an average day looks like, what the flow of communication looks like, what buttons to press, what the headsets you use are. All those logistical things I had to learn but then beyond that, it was really about what kind of person Chip was going to be. Some that was on the page and some of that was about what I tried to bring to it.
What was it like working with Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon?
Mark Duplass: I love them both. They’re great bosses because they have had bad bosses before and they know how they want to be treated as a performer. They treated me with respect. They welcomed my ideas and they were supportive and complimentary. Honestly, they’re awesome bosses.
In just watching the first three episodes, I found it so timely with how it relates to the whole Times Up and #MeToo movements.
Mark Duplass: It is timely. In fact, there was a version of the show that we’re working on that didn’t incorporate all of those storylines. When the whole #MeToo controversy came to life, they kind of decided had to go back and rework the story to not only include it but really make it the forefront of the series, which I commend them. They had to throw out bunch of work. It took a lot more time and money to get it the way that they thought was more culturally relevant.
Later this year, you’ll be appearing in Bombshell as Megyn Kelly’s husband, Douglas Brunt. What drew you to the project?
Mark Duplass: That was an easy one for me. I had worked with Charlize Theron briefly on a movie called Tully, where I played her brother. We got along well and I was in a supporting role for her there. I think that she and Jay Roach, the director, were looking for someone to play Doug Brunt, her husband, who knows how to be a supporting actor. It’s kind of like a little known secret and in Hollywood that sometimes you hire people and they don’t know how to be a supporting actor—they’re trying to either steal scenes or shine or they’re all about themselves. My role there was to help Charlize put in the best performance she could put in as she’s playing a real person, doing an accent—she’s got prosthetics all over herself. It was a very challenging role and she’s wonderful in it. My job was just to be scene partner and friend in that.
Finally, are there any plans to re-team with your brother, Jay, as a director on a feature film in the near future?
Mark Duplass: Jay and I still have our company together and we’re producing lots of projects and neither he nor I are directing a ton right now. Part of that is because we have young kids and we like being home with them. The hours of directing can be pretty brutal on the family life and part of that is we’ve realized that at this stage in our lives, we’ve directed a lot of things. We would almost rather use whatever platform we have to help kind of give a hand up to younger directors and different kinds of voices to get their start—that’s what we do with shows like Room 104. We produce and we curate but we provide the platform for people get their first shot. That’s just kind of the mood we’re in right now.
Thank you and congrats on the show!
Awesome, thank you so much!