The DirecTV 10-episode drama series Full Circle marks the television debut of award-winning screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute, with two half-hour episodes airing every Wednesday. Examining the human condition and relationships through a series of conversations between 11 people whose lives are intertwined, each episode takes place in a restaurant and features a conversation between two characters, with one of the character’s storylines then carrying over into the next episode.
The third episode of the series features Stanley (Julian McMahon), an entertainment attorney who has dinner with his client and old friend Jace (David Boreanaz), an outrageous comedian known for outlandish behavior that has left him embroiled in a scandal that could end his career. While at the show’s press day, co-stars David Boreanaz and Julian McMahon spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about the challenge of doing so much dialogue in a 30-minute episode, working with the words of Neil LaBute, whether a character has to have any redeeming qualities, and that they’d both love to explore doing more work behind the camera. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
David, after years of doing network television, were you just saving it up to swear on cable?
DAVID BOREANAZ: That’s funny! I like that. Yeah, it was pent up aggression of three television shows. It was what I really wanted to say to some people. No. Yeah, that’s funny. I didn’t really think about it that way. I was just very excited about being associated with a bunch of great actors and Neil LaBute, and being able to tackle a character of such diverse craziness. It was fun. It was definitely a marathon in the head. Being at pace with it, from the beginning through shooting it and to the end, it was quite a journey. Even now, looking back at it, it’s a very winded piece. You just train and train, and then you shoot it and have, and you really want to step away from something like that. It feels like it happened eight years ago. Now, to be on the other end and look back at the process that one goes through with something like this, it’s great to know that I challenged myself to be a part of it and committed myself and was able to meet some great people.
There is a lot of dialogue in these 30-minute episodes. Was that a challenge for you, when you were working on this?
JULIAN McMAHON: Yeah. On Nip/Tuck, I had a lot of dialogue, so I was definitely used to that, but I haven’t worked for a couple of years. I’ve always done work that’s pretty dialogue heavy. I like dialogue heavy stuff. I really do. I did a cop show for awhile, and I remember, if I didn’t have enough dialogue, I’d write myself stuff. I think the real challenge was the amount of dialogue in one day, and the short period of time to prepare. I found that very challenging, in a great way. I love being challenged like that. At the end of the day, I felt pretty drained and spent, but that’s good.
BOREANAZ: You come out of it feeling like you’ve accomplished a lot, and you feel refreshed and tired. It’s a good high, man. It’s a great drug.
McMAHON: It’s great to just do it. It’s great to swear and say that stuff.
BOREANAZ: It’s great to do it through a character. I was portraying a character that’s very free with that. But, it’s one thing to say it and another to have something behind it. It was very difficult to do that. You had to really draw upon stuff. That makes it even more interesting, from an actor’s perspective. All these characters go on these journeys, and we’re all somehow interconnected. That’s why I think it’s an interesting piece. It’s a reminder of where people are in today’s world, with technology and how we communicate with people. There are people out there who are like this.
What’s it like to work with the words of Neil LaBute?
McMAHON: I think the writing is compelling. Neil is a great writer, and we’ve known that for a long time. He’s found a medium where he can express himself, and that’s television. And he gave us all this great opportunity.
BOREANAZ: With this, we get a glimpse into people’s lives that are somewhat told through story and rich development, from an actor’s perspective, in bringing that to life. It’s amazing to be able to sit there, as an audience member, and watch characters that are so f-ed up and so complex, and see how relatable that can be to anyone across the globe. Especially in today’s world, it’s so relevant. It’s just the way that communication is, and how spiteful people can get, from a racial slur to how you feel about specific subject matter or agendas that people may have. It’s all part of the whole package, in this piece. We play parts of that whole, and I think it’s a very strong message for people that are watching. It’s interesting.
You really get to see so many sides of both of your characters, in their interactions with each other and with other people.
McMAHON: You’re getting a really extreme slice of somebody’s life, or two people’s lives, in a short period of time. That’s what’s interesting about it. It maintains its intensity, through all of the episodes. There’s no lull in this piece, and that really comes from the writing, too. There’s a lot of writing. There’s a lot that he’s trying to say. There’s a lot of communicating and riffing. And then, on top of that, you’ve got a lot of different emotions going on. You find these people in moments in life when they’re at an extreme. The first episode with Minka [Kelly], she’s at an extreme, making that choice about what she’s going to do. And then, her breaking off our marriage is extreme. And then, the circumstance which comes up, based on Jace’s performance and some of the things that he says, is an extreme. We’ve all had moments in our lives that come from so many different places, whether it’s the death of a family member or a divorce or getting caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing. There are moments in time where you feel like it’s just all against you, and I think that that’s where these characters are. As opposed to just going to get some lunch or doing something routine, this is an extreme.
When you play characters like these men, do you worry about them having any redeeming qualities, or do you not concern yourself with that, as actors, as long as you’re playing the truth of the character?
BOREANAZ: It’s interesting. If you’re talking as a whole, I think there’s redemption. You’re bringing up subject matter that can be very religiously motivated. Depending on what you believe as a person, there’s always redeeming qualities to every character or individual, as spiteful as they might be. So, that’s a tricky one to answer.
McMAHON: It’s interesting that you talk about religion because inside of most religions, there’s a lot of forgiveness and that brings about the question of where we’re at with these people, which is extreme moments in time. Jace has been a comedian for 20 years, and he’s been doing the same thing. Based on the fact that the culture in this world is so different to what it was five years ago, and something you say can literally go viral within a matter of minutes, is just something we don’t understand. You’re dealing with all these different mediums that we’ve never dealt with before. That’s why it’s interesting. The reality is that we’re all lots of different things.
BOREANAZ: The audience can gauge that and watch these characters and say, “Where is their sense of vulnerability? Where is their sense of redemption? Where is their journey?” Purely look at a piece, as an actor playing a character, you look for all of those avenues to see if there’s any sense of vulnerability or love that you can bring to a character, and decide how that’s portrayed and how that’s going to be a struggle with the other characters. It’s your job to do that. It’s your job to take that on and challenge yourself, and meet that head on and see what happens with it.
McMAHON: I’ve always been interesting in characters that challenge people and who are not always that easy to like. All of the characters in this have that inside of them.
David, even if you get another season of Bones, you’re closer to the end now than the beginning. Have you thought about directing a feature film? Does that interest you, at all, having directed some episodes of the show?
BOREANAZ: I think it’s a different type of medium. I enjoy the process of it. I really enjoy working with actors and their sensibilities. For me, it’s really about being able to listen to what they have to say, and being able to guide them and their energy, and not making them feel uncomfortable. 99% of the time, they’re not going to do it, if they don’t want to do it. It’s just a matter of trying to feel out why. It can be a game of give-and-take and understanding. It’s a fun medium to play in. I love the technical aspect of it. I love cranes, I love lens sizes, I love movement, and I love that type of energy. I look at it as a work in progress and just wanting to be a part of things that are more gratifying to the spirit and the energy for where you are in your life. I love the medium and I love the entertainment world. Whether it’s acting, directing or producing, it’s something I enjoy doing.
Julian, are you also looking to work in front of and behind the camera?
McMAHON: Sure. I feel very much the same way as David does. I really enjoy the business, and I enjoy all facets of it. I hate it when I get sent away to my trailer. I’ve never felt very comfortable in my trailer. So, I’d like to explore all of those avenues.