There awesome special guest stars coming to Law & Order: SVU tonight: veteran actor Robert Vaughn and former-Desperate Housewife Marcia Cross. OHSOGRAY participated in a press call with Vaughn and Cross about their roles and current projects.
Law & Order: SVU airs tonight at 9/8c on NBC.
Marcia, after coming off of a long time on Desperate Housewives, you’ve taken a bit of a break. Is your plan now just to keep your toes in the water with SVU or are you thinking that you’re ready to get back into another series?
Marcia Cross: A little of both. It was a wonderful opportunity to go back to work, I thought, which was really, really funny. It was a little bit under the radar because I thought, you know, the show has been on a long while and, you know, just go, you know, how it feels to get back -back into it. And lo and behold, of course, it’s a huge show with zillions of fans, so I don’t know what I was thinking there . And a great show, so I’m really happy that I got to do it. In terms of getting back, yes, I think I’m ready but it’s tricky right now because I’d like to do something a little bit different and so I have to kind of just hold out for that and wait and see and not just kind of jump back in just because I’m ready to work.
Robert, what can you tell us about your character in this episode?
Robert Vaughn: Yes, I’ll tell you only a little bit because there’s a lot to say and I won’t take all that much time. The character’s name is Walter Briggs. What he is, is an internally famous literary lion along the lines of Hemingway or Norman Mailer. But in addition to that, he’s also a considerable lover. He has been married six times and, by his own admission, he’s had hundreds of lovers; meaning, I presume, women, of course. And he is getting on in years, in the early stages of dementia. He is married to a much younger woman named Charmaine played by Marcia. And this is the beginning of the plot of the story. I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the story other than the fact that Charmaine loves him very much, but she also wants to cover herself in terms of what happens when he dies and his will is probated. She thinks that possibly if she has another child, that she’ll get more from the will. Bear in mind that she loves the man, but she’s, as I say, covering herself or covering her butt, as you might say. Anyway, that’s basically the character.
Marcia, how was it taking a break from acting?
Marcia Cross: Oh, you know, truthfully, when I finished, I was exhausted, so on a physical level I just really needed to rest. But I think for me, my friend calls me a unicorn, which means really – I mean I love to be in the world of stories and story-telling and acting. I mean it’s really where I feel home. As much as I love being a mother and being a housewife is really not my thing. So it was so wonderful to go back to work and I think for me I just have to get back to what I love doing because it really is so much – it feeds my soul and makes me happy. So I’m…
If Desperate Housewives were to become a feature film, would you consider reprising your role as Bree Van de Kamp?
Marcia Cross: Marc made it very clear that he is never going to write a movie, so I don’t even have to think about it.
How was it for you two working together? Had you met before?
Robert Vaughn: Not as far as I know we haven’t – well, no, I – I – as far as I know we haven’t met before.
Marcia Cross: No, we have…
Robert Vaughn: Perhaps in my younger days I…
Marcia Cross: No.
Robert Vaughn: …I may have had too much to drink and met her and forgot about it. Although I think I could never forget about her, no. A lovely lady, lovely to look at, lovely to work with.
Marcia Cross: Oh, thanks, Robert. Shall I answer now? It was a – yes, it was a thrill for me because he’s a bit of a legend and it wasn’t really hard to imagine, you know, that sort of future for myself and he just kind of has what it takes on and off the screen, so it was quite a thrill.
Mr. Vaughn, can you talk a little bit about what made you want to take this role?
Robert Vaughn: Well, yes. I’m 82 years old and so when I get a chance to get a role that I can really sink my teeth into, which has multiple levels to it, which this one does, I always say yes, because who know when the phone might stop ringing and I’ll no longer be vertical and then I won’t have as much fun as I’ve had in my life doing the work I love…
Robert, could talk a little bit about how different it is to prepare for a guest role on a television series versus going for a run on a stage play?
Robert Vaughn: Well, of course, in a stage play you have a long, extended rehearsal, doing the entire play; whereas, very often in television you’ll only rehearse and work on scenes that are going to be done the following day. That’s the chief difference, is a long time rehearsal period for a play and just a day of rehearsal for television shows the following day. Okay?
What projects do you both have coming up and where they can see you next?
Robert Vaughn: Well, I have two movies that have not been released. One is called The American Side. It deals with kind of a mystery that was shot in Niagara Falls on the American side. The other one is called Gold Star, which is the story of a very successful, internationally famous Olympic marathon runner who late in his life has a stroke and I play the entire movie without being able to speak, called Gold Star.
Marcia Cross: Not a thing. I am just now leaving two pilot seasons, seeing what’s out there and hopefully there’ll be something coming my way. I’m not sure yet.
What was the most interesting part of working on this episode. Anything surprising happened?
Robert Vaughn: Well, the most interesting thing of working on the episode was the oddball character that I was playing. He was always things to different people and that was the interesting thing. It was a terrific cast and I met – got to meet some of the people on Law and Order for the first time, which I have watched since its beginning.
Marcia Cross: You know, for me I think it was an interesting journey because I was very much in love with a younger man – I mean – I’m sorry. I was the younger woman to an older man at one point in my life, whom I love dearly. And, you know, I had imagined that that might be the course at some point. So for me it was interesting to kind of relive that time of my life and how that – how that might have played out had my future been not what it is now. Does that make sense?
You both have really wonderful careers in film and television, so I was wondering if you could talk about what have been some of your favorite moments in film and television?
Robert Vaughn: Yes, I’ve had the great pleasure and honor, and all those words, of having played Hamlet twice; once when I was just out of college and then once again later on during the time I was doing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I played it at the Pasadena Playhouse. And Laurence Olivier once said that the ultimate goal of all post Elizabethan thespians is to play Hamlet. Well, I had that goal twice resolved and twice done, so I’m very, very happy about that. As far as film is concerned, I did a series called Washington: Behind Closed Doors, which was really the story of Watergate. The situation was – so then Jason Robards played Richard Nixon and I played H. R. Haldeman, Nixon’s main assistant, for which I got the Emmy that year. So those are the two things that stand out in my mind.
Marcia Cross: Wow. Well, I would say that in the early days when I finished school and got to do Twelfth Night in – both in Hartford and at the Old Globe and I did another production, Two Gentlemen of Verona, at the Old Globe. Those are some highlights and of course Desperate Housewives was, you know, a thrill from beginning to end. But I think – I’d like to think that my third act is where the best is going to come from me. So I’m actually looking forward to the future and at some point also getting back to doing stage work.