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Legal Eagle: Chatting with "Damages"' Tate Donovan

Longtime readers of this site know that I'm completely, utterly obsessed with Damages and, with the season finale just around the corner, I can't get each and every plot twist out of my head.

So it was with great pleasure that I got to chat with Damages' Tate Donovan about the series, his feelings about his character Tom Shayes, and his hopes for Season Two, which still hasn't been ordered by cabler FX.

As for the likelihood of that second season order, don't look to Donovan for any confirmation. "We're hoping," said Donovan. "We’re definitely hoping." (You and me both, Tate.)

"When I was first reading the final script I was like so impressed how they set up the second season (if there’s going to another season)," said Donovan. "They’ve set it up in a way that you cannot wait to see next season. It’s really cool what they’ve done."

While that's an intriguing enough notion to ponder a bit, onto the Q&A...

Q: I’m wondering what it is like to play characters that are up against some such strong women like Patty Hewes or Julie Cooper?

Tate Donovan: I don’t know, I’m used to it. I just was raised, I guess, in a family where women were very strong. And I just – it doesn’t come as some sort of odd surprise or blow to my ego or something like that. I've always seen women as authority figures or some of them can be. In show business [...] there are really powerful women. So it hasn’t really been that big of a deal. Some are great actresses like both [...] that you mentioned. It’s pretty fun.

Q: Right. Damages really plays loose and free with morality and I’m wondering then if you view Tom as evil or just sort of human and flawed.

Donovan: It’s so funny. I have to say I’m shocked by how people see me as evil or awful and terrible and – I’m kind of personally are taken aback. I see Tom as a guy who’s really just trying to do the best he can in pretty precarious world.

And I think he’s a good father. He’s a good husband. He’s a good employee. He’s a good partner to Patty and I think he’s treated Ellen for the most part really well.

Yeah, he had a moment of weakness. But who doesn’t, you know? And he’s lied and he sort of fudged the truth and he’s sort of gone beyond people’s backs. But it’s a pretty tough competitive world out there. And I see Tom as far more good or understandable than I think a lot of the audience.

Q: Well, I’m hoping in the eleventh hour he’s going to be to our hero and spring Ellen from jail. I’m just wondering if there is a second season of Damages where you would hope that the producers and writers take your character?

Donovan: Oh, gosh. There are two kinds of lawyers. I read this great book by – oh, God, it’s called “Letters to a Young Lawyer" [by Alan M. Dershowitz]. He said there are two kinds of lawyers: one who want everyone to like them and the other doesn’t care at all and maybe even prefers to be disliked. And Tom is definitely a guy who wants to be liked.

So I think it would be fun to take Tom into, maybe, the realm of politics. And that sort of world where being liked is super important. And he can use his talents of affability towards that.

But it’s really up to them; as long as I have lots to do I’m happy. They want to me make the mass murderer, that’s fine with me. If they want to make me a hero that saves people in the end, I’ll take it. I just like to be in the mix.

Damages wraps its first season next Tuesday night at 10 pm ET/PT on FX. Be sure to come back for the results of my chat with Patty Hewes herself, Glenn Close!

What's On Tonight

8 pm: NCIS (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Beauty and the Geek (CW); Cavemen/Carpoolers (ABC)

9 pm: The Unit (CBS); The Biggest Loser (NBC); Reaper (CW); Dancing with the Stars (ABC)

10 pm: Cane (CBS); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC); Boston Legal (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

8 pm: Beauty & the Geek.

I'm a sucker for the CW's "social experiment" Beauty & the Geek. On tonight's episode ("It's Good to Be King"), the geeks get their makeovers and debut their new styles at a Beauty and the Geek Prom, while the beauties teach third grade.

10 pm: Damages on FX.

FX's brilliant legal drama continues with its penultimate episode, in which the past, present, and future collide as the disparate storylines finally come together: Gregory Malina's taped confession surfaces, Frosbisher learns of Fiske and gets a visit from the police before issuing an order to obtain the tape at any cost, Patty tells Ellen about Fiske's suicide, and Ellen expresses regret at the line they crossed. All this, plus: is Ellen's arrest for David's murder connected to Patty's war against Frobisher?


Anonymous said…
Very cool, J!
Whew. Patty Hewes and Julie Cooper. He really has had it rough! Maybe next we'll see him as one of Atia's love slaves in Rome (Part 2)!

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