The married mother of two, with her kids down for a nap, took some time to talk about In Plain Sight and life as a working mom, where the working is 12- to 15-hour days on a Hollywood television set.
McCormack gladly takes the long set hours because the steady work and the ability to live and work in one geographic locale (rather than traversing the globe) is a big plus for a mother.Her film accomplishments range from playing Russell Crowe's wife in Mystery, Alaska to acting alongside Clint Eastwood in True Crime. Perhaps even a little more challenging was her role as Howard Stern's wife in his autobiographical Private Parts.No stranger to television, McCormack has starred in some of the medium's biggest hits: ER, West Wing and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
SheKnows: What in your role as Mary Shannon on In Plain Sight challenges you still?Mary McCormack: Well, a number of things. One of the weird things about TV and one of the things that some actors don't like but I kind of dig is that you never know where you're headed. You never know what the writer might think of next. So, unlike a film or a play, where you know the entire story and you know where you have to end up, with Mary Shannon I never really know what [the director is] cooking up -- for example, my relationship with Rafael, the intimacy issues, and all the push and pull of that. This season is completely different than last. There's more development with me and with the mystery of my father and what happened to him.There's just so many question marks with [my character] that it's always a challenge -- just sort of trying to figure that out.SheKnows: The chemistry between you and Christian de la Fuenta is intense.Mary McCormack: We really enjoy each other. I'm crazy about him. I'm really just crazy about him. He's a great guy. No one that pretty should be that nice, as well as funny and smart. God went to town when He made him. He's just fantastic. I get along well with his wife, and my husband gets along well with both of them. Sometimes, I call my husband and I'm in bed with Christian. So, it's all very odd. It's a really odd relationship. But his lovely wife, Angelica, who's a beautiful actress, is guest starring on this episode. And my husband, Michael Morris, who directs many Brothers and Sisters episodes and produces [the series], is directing this episode of In Plain Sight. So, it's all in the family with us.
SheKnows: The show's family dynamic with your mother and sister keeps viewers glued. Will we see more of that this season?Mary McCormack: Yes, quite a bit. Honestly, I don't know how much I'm allowed to say or not, so I'll just say everything. In the beginning of the season -- I forget which episode, but very near the beginning of the season -- my mother hits a new low in her drinking. It's extraordinary to watch and you think it's going to be funny, but it isn't at all And then, she decides to try to stop drinking and goes to rehab. Mary Shannon's never known her mother without alcohol involved, so it changes the entire family dynamic. My sister goes back to school and decides to turn over a new leaf. Because it's television, I don't know how long these things will last or if they'll make it or not, but the dynamic completely changes. And then the mystery of Mary's"father is still floating and looming, and you get some more clues as to what happened to him.
SheKnows: What's your typical on-set day?
Mary McCormack: Oh, my goodness gracious. I get there super-early. A typical day for me is somewhere around 15 to 20 hours. I spend an hour or so in hair and makeup. We all get ready for the work of the day and rehearse the first scene. Then, we start shooting and work all day. That's it. That's our day. We rehearse and act all day long, move the camera, move the lights, and do it again and again and again. We've been at it for seven months now, with about two weeks left. We're a tired group. We're almost punch drunk; we're crazy.SheKnows: We have a nice little holiday coming up here -- Mother's Day -- and you and Lesley Ann Warren are one of the better portrayed mother/daughter combos on the screen. What was it like initially meeting her and then as an actress, working alongside her?
Mary McCormack: Meeting her was fantastic. I was a big, big fan. It was daunting but thrilling because I just love her work. We both worked with Steven Soderbergh; our first conversation was about our mutual love of him. Once we had that out of the way, we knew we were going to work similarly because Steven works in a very specific way and not every actor digs it. We were having a lovefest gush session about how he works and how he is. From that moment on, we knew we were going to get along great. I'm crazy about her husband. She loves my husband. It's all very comfortable. She lives down the street from me in LA. She comes over at Christmastime and spoils my girls. She's the best.
SheKnows: My mother, Naomi Amos, was a teacher of yours at Trinity College.
Mary McCormack: What does she teach?SheKnows: Music, and she did theater.Mary McCormack: Oh, my gosh. How funny. Please tell her hello.SheKnows: I will certainly do that. How did that theater experience train you for working in both television and film so effortlessly?
Mary McCormack: In high school, I sang a lot and I was sort of classically trained. And so I sang at Trinity a lot. I did more musical theater than any other kind, and a lot of voice and music classes and stuff. It just continued my love of it. More than anything, I just thought, "Well, that's where I had the most fun -- in the arts building." When I graduated, I thought, "Your goal in life is making a living at something you actually enjoy." So, I moved to New York and started studying acting a little more seriously.
I continued doing off-off Broadway plays and working my way. Probably just being in the arts building at a small enough college that I could actually find my way to the stage and find professors who cared and all that [helped]. Trinity was actually lovely for that because it's not a school that's [super] famous for performing arts. If you really wanted to do it, there was room for you to do it, which was nice.
M. McCormack: Please send my regards to your mom.SheKnows: I sure will. Regards to you and continued success with In Plain Sight!
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