It was the first – and so far last – time that Bradley Whitford directed an hour of television in the spring of 2007. The show was NBC’s Studio 60 on Sunset Stripand he was one of its stars.
The show was canceled not long after.
“I killed Studio 60, actually,” the Emmy winner joked during a recent conversation with TVLine. “A lot of hopes for this show, and then the finale came.”
Whitford now plays Commander Joseph Lawrence on Hulu’s The story of the maid and marked his second directorial stint with this week’s episode “Allegiance.” (Read a full synopsis.) Read on to hear his thoughts on going behind the camera — while still staying in front of it for much of the pivotal episode — and his excellent nod to the Season 5 finale next week.
TVLINE | I want to talk to you about this episode that you directed and were in one a lot of, something we don’t see often.
Or that’s what I expected. [Laughs] You never know what you’re going to get, and I naively thought, “Well, it would probably be a bottle series that happens in the studio that I’m not in.” And then I read the outline and I thought, Jesus, I’m in one a lot of of this. That was a surprise, and it was Not a bottle episode. [Laughs] There’s all this crazy stuff going on.
TVLINE | There’s some ambiguity as to who gave June the information leading to the failed mission, but come on: Lawrence was involved. Or am I reading that wrong?
I think he says [that] that’s what he’s trying to avoid. I don’t think he has magical, total control over Gilead. And even if it were, that’s a very poor spot because you can end up on the wall very quickly. So no. Do I think he tricked her on purpose? I don’t know what that would do.
The basic question some people have asked is: Is this Lawrence becoming a pragmatic, ambitious power seeker? I don’t think so at all. I mean, that was years before you met [him]… I don’t think Lawrence is interested in power for its own sake. I think what developed here was that he had a fearlessness when June – I mean, my God, the Fred stuff, the angel flight. He was reckless, and I think he sees an opportunity that makes for an interesting, unfortunately relevant, conversation about at least a little further down the world of maid.
… part of what makes [June] such a compelling character is… she’s blown up on the spark of decency in him… That’s why the relationship is so interesting and so painful. The call is So painful. There’s something very familiar, a loss of something that doesn’t come easy. It’s not just a power dynamic.
TVLINE | You directed an episode of Studio 60 on Sunset Stripand that’s the only other time you’ve directed, right
Yes. I wanted to continue west wing. I’ve always wanted to direct west wingand then I suggested a story to him [executive producer] John Wells for the writers to work on. John surprised me by saying, “That’s a good idea. I think you should write it if you can write it in a week. But if you write it, you can’t direct it.” [Laughs] And I ended up loving that and getting to write another episode the next year.
So yes. i killed Studio 60, actually. I actually killed it. Lots of hopes for this show, and then came the finale.
TVLINE | That murder aside, how did the two directing experiences compare?
Both times I’ve directed, it’s been a very safe way to do it. I work with actors I know and love, I work on the shows I know and love. I don’t deal with what most directors deal with, which is this paradox of having to be an authority figure when you’re a stranger. It was funny because actually for a long time I hated, hated, hated To see everything I’ve been in
And I remember [Studio 60 EP] Tommy KMU was mad at me when I was preparing Studio 60‘Cause all of a sudden he’s like, ‘You don’t watch the show, do you?’ And I said, ‘No, but I know how you do it. [Laughs] You know? I’m there every day!” And further [Handmaid’s], I’ve gotten better at watching… On this show, as an actor, you are intimidated by the spectacular visual nature of the show. And I didn’t know why I was re-watching it, but it was intimidating at first. And then it got me really excited because of all the different things you can do with it visually.
Also: Nicola Daley is just underpaid.[Laughs] I have no idea what she does, but she is a [director of photography] who came this year, who was just extraordinary to work with.
TVLINE | Before you go, what can you tease about next week’s finale?
what can i tease June is no longer safe in Canada. Or, canada No longer safe.
https://tvline.com/2022/11/02/the-handmaids-tale-season-5-episode-9-bradley-whitford-interview/ ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Season 5 Episode 9: Interview with Bradley Whitford