After a tumultuous fourth season where U.S. Marshal Mary McCormack found out that she was pregnant and her ex-husband was the father, the lives of Mary and her partner Marshall Mann have been teetering between the stress of the job, the colorful witnesses under their protection, and their own uncertainties about their personal and professional relationships. Taking a few minutes to chat with press are co-stars Mary McCormack and Fred Weller, who play the dynamic duo of Mary and Marshall.
What do you think is the one thing that Mary and Marshall are going to take away from this year, besides a baby?
FRED: Pregnancy sucks?
MARY: I’m so careful about giving anything away because the finale is so exciting and a lot happens. I mean, obviously in the finale my sister’s getting married. So, you know, it’s Brandi so things don’t always go according to plan. And I think [Mary] will probably she use birth control from now on. She’s learned about that in a real way. Let’s see: she’s learned AA seems to work, her mother’s still sober, which is a miracle. What else has she learned? I mean, that Marshall’s an even better friend that she thought, which is, you know, hard to believe because he’s really stepped-up with the whole pregnancy thing. And, golly, I don’t know. I mean, I think for Mary this season, one of the things that’s been fun for me this seasons is that her family has sort of not been the mess-ups that they’ve been traditionally. And so, she’s sort of had to figure out who she was when she wasn’t looking after them. And I think that’s been an interesting thing for Season 4 because for the first three seasons she’s been like bitching about how she’s the only adult in the family and she has to clean up their messes, and all of a sudden they’re sort of [all together] and she’s the hot mess. She’s the one who’s knocked up and single and they’re sort of getting on with their lives. So, that’s been the fun thing for me this season, for me and the character.
FRED: Okay, I learned stuff.
MARY: What’d you learn, pal? People want to know.
FRED: No, it’s cool. It’s fine. I think Marshall learned that, while he thought that Mary’s obstreperousness could not get any worse, he found out that there is no ceiling on it, having been with a pregnant Mary for a while. Look it up, obstreperousness, I’m talking to you, Mary.
MARY: Show off. That’s a show off. Honestly, it’s unbelievable.
It looks like that Mary might be heading towards keeping the baby. How do you feel about that?
MARY: Both ways are dramatic. I don’t actually know what they’re going to do at this stage. I really don’t. But I do know that I’m sort of excited to play it either way. I mean, I think giving a baby up for adoption would be incredible, in terms of sort of dramatic stories, and the keeping of it obviously has crazy sort of opportunities for her. I mean, the thought of her raising a child sounds fun also. So I’m not sure what they’re going to do. We will see.
Mary, how uncomfortable have you been going to work as a pregnant woman in real life?
MARY: You know, it was not easy. I’ve got to say, I think I’m pretty tough and I thought it would be easier than it was. It was really hard. I’m old too. I forget how this pregnancy game is sort of a young girl’s game. So I’m a little out of my league. It’s all right. It’s a small price to pay. I mean, it was a lesson in humility watching the episodes now. I’m like, “Wow, that’s a big back.” But, you know, you get on with it.
Can you both talk about Mary’s pregnancy did for the show and the characters?
MARY: Oh, when I knew I was pregnant? Obviously, I got pregnant sort of right before I showed up for the season, but I couldn’t really tell anyone. I told Fred of course right away, but I didn’t tell anyone else because I was afraid at my age, it’s obviously really risky. And so when I told the President of the Network and then the showrunners — we told the showrunners together — it was further along and we had to make a decision fast about what we were going to do. And Jeff Wachtel, who has such a keen sense of story and drama, he’s the President of USA, he sort of said, “You know, this is, in a weird way.” I mean we discussed first my wishes and whether I was willing to write it in and I was. And then we started talking about the pros and cons story-wise and character-wise, and he was sort of excited about it as long as I was comfortable with it. He was excited about the opportunities that it would create for Season 4, because I think shows have to [evolve]. He looks for showrunners or he looks for the creator to shake things up, because otherwise things can get pretty stale. So it timed out that it was a nice moment for something really big to happen, you know?
MARY: And so we all decided to do it, and then we had to move fast, story-wise. I think the writers had a 10-day hiatus already scheduled, which worked out great, because they rewrote a bunch of stories and came up with Mark being the father of the baby and what it would mean, and how it would change the shape of the season, so they had to work really fast and they did a great job.
Was the character of Mark, then that whole relationship had already been in place before you got pregnant in real life?
MARY: Oh, yeah. I know the story was planned and he was definitely coming back and we were probably going to hook-up. But it work out timing-wise that when I told everybody that I was pregnant we were like, “Geez, Louise, who could it be? Is it Faber’s? Is it?” and then we thought like, “Oh, no timing-wise maybe it works out perfect if it’s Mark’s.” So it worked out great. And it’s kind of [perfect]. I think it worked out even just story-wise because it was sort of a pure accident. There was nothing really deeper with Faber and it might have been sort of confusing. He had that wife and kids –and that was the whole thing. It just would have opened up a whole other set of really dramatic stories, whereas with Mark, it was like, “Oh!” It’s one of those things that happens in life that you just go, “Oh, my Lord.” You know, it was lighter.
When you found out they were going to write your pregnancy into the show, were you kind of hoping that Marshall would be written as the father?
MARY: No, I wasn’t.
FRED: No, I don’t think so.
MARY: It seems that we’d missed so many fun steps if that were the case. I mean, I was already really pregnant when we made that decision. So it had to be someone. I think if it had been Marshall we would have skipped so many steps and I think the audience would have felt robbed.
FRED: Yeah, it’s just – yeah, I don’t think it could happen. We’d have to hook-up episode two or three of the season, and then what?
MARY: And that hadn’t happened. I mean, we’d already shot [a number of episodes]. We were already [too far along]. Timing-wise that couldn’t have worked anyway. But I also think it would have rushed — accelerated something that’s sort of fun to draw out.
FRED: I think that Mary and Marshall should and will hook-up at some point, but it’s a little bit like the escape from GILLIGAN’S ISLAND. I mean, what comes after it is going to be tricky.
MARY: Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good reference as well.
Matt Nix of BURN NOTICE has said that romantic leads getting together only kills off a show if their only relationship-question poses whether they will hook up. So what kind of questions do you think plague Marshall and Mary’s relationship?
FRED: Wait, I’m sorry, their hooking up only kills off a show if they’re hooking-up as the only suspense?
MARY: That’s a lot of conditionals.
FRED: So the point is that our show could survive hook-up between Mary and Marshall because of what? What other questions – or other sources of mystery? Well, I think that certainly Mary’s character is [complicated]. I don’t think we’ll ever (plumb) those depths entirely. I think if Mary and Marshall hooked-up, it would not exactly be a frictionless relationship. So that would cause drama. I mean, a hook-up would have to be — I think it’s just a temporary thing that gave rise to other issues. What do you think, Mary?
MARY: No idea. It’s too big a question for me. It’s too big. I have no idea. I don’t know. I’m not good at that. That’s like a writer’s question.
Do you think there’s any possibility that Marshall is ever going to realize what his true feelings are for Mary in the show?
FRED: I don’t think Marshall is in denial about his true feelings for Mary at all. I think he’s completely aware of [how he feels]. I think he knows. I think he’s come very close to telling her. I think she probably knows too. I think he thinks that she reciprocates those feelings as much as she can. I don’t know if Mary McCormack agrees, but [that’s my take].
MARY: No, I agree with that. I think Mary Shannon is able to compartmentalize in an unhealthy way and push things out of the front of her brain and push them to the back of her brain for comfort and ease. It’s so survival. But, I think deep down [she knows].
Since Marshall’s not in denial about his feelings, how do you think he justifies his relationship with Abigail with himself?
FRED: Well, I think he’s sort of licking his wounds with her a little bit. I mean, he likes her and I think he’s surprised that he likes her. They get along. They have fun times. But I think that he knows there’s something missing. I don’t think he’s always aware of it, but I think he’s a romantic at heart and I really feel like he’s got this undeniable longing for Mary and I think that it’s always lurking there. But he’s got to move on and he’s got needs, after all, for companionship and so forth.
Do you think he feels it’s unfair to Abigail on a certain level?
MARY: Yeah? Do you ever think of that? That it’s unfair to Abigail on some level?
FRED: Yeah. Yeah. I think probably so, yeah. But, she’s young.
MARY: She’s young.
FRED: Yeah, sure. It’s complicated. It’s messy.
Is Mary as dense as she seems about Marshall’s feelings and does Marshall think she’s being dense?
MARY: Wait, I didn’t hear it. Fred, did you hear it?
FRED: She’s asking if Marshall thinks that Mary is as dense about his feelings for her as she seems, and the answer is, no. Marshall thinks that Mary is afraid of her feelings and she’s got many layers of self-defense over them.
MARY: I agree with that.
What do you think will happen to your characters if we were to visit them five years from now?
MARY: Oh my Lord, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I’m not very understanding today. I have no idea where I’d be without giving anything away.
FRED: I don’t know. We are probably still arguing.
MARY: She’s probably still in the same job, right? I mean, I imagine that’s a job that’s going to stick. She likes that job.
FRED: Arguing about different stuff. Probably having hooked-up and moved on to other people. Marshall’s trying to keep her from making her child a total wreck.
MARY: You’re implying though that I keep the child.
FRED: I don’t know what happens next season anymore than anybody else does. I want just want to make that clear right now. I have no idea what happens.
What are you looking forward to with Marshall in the future? What would you like to see him do or get into?
FRED: Well, I’d like to see him get into some kind of romantic relationship with Mary, but not something that’s too cozy or long lived. I just feel like it’s got to happen at some point . . . . I don’t want to jump to shark. I mean, I think that the more drama would ensue as a result of that. They’re certainly not going to start getting along better than they do now, which is pretty questionable already, you know what I mean? And there’s plenty of room for conflict and trouble.
Aside from each other, can you tell us about another IN PLAIN SIGHT cast member who you really enjoy working with and who really inspired you this season?
FRED: Well, in terms of regulars, I think Mary will agree with Paul Ben-Victor is
just astonishing to watch. He’s a great actor and he’s just really lovable funny and he’s amazing.
MARY: Yeah, we love PBV.
FRED: In terms of guests, I like Maury Sterling who made a second appearance, I think based on the quality of his first appearance. Right, Mary?
MARY: I think it was planned all along.
FRED: Oh, it was?
MARY: Yeah, It was planned all along to have character come back, but I think he came back in a much bigger way, because Maury was so good, you know? And actually, I mean, I’ve heard rumblings of maybe he surfaces again just because everyone enjoyed him so much, so who knows.
FRED: He’s funny.
MARY: He is really funny.
FRED: And then Bryan Callen’s great too.
MARY: Yeah, and fun to work with.
Mary, just in general how do you think of the average woman watching IN PLAIN SIGHT this season can relate to your character, and in what ways do you think that she’s an inspiration to women?
MARY: Well, I mean I think part of the reasons she’s always been appealing to women is that women know the truth. We are grouchier and meaner and more judgmental than I think we’ve been allowed to be portrayed over the years. . . I think it’s just sort of been our secret for a long time. So it makes sense that there’s something cathartic watching a woman say what she’s feels and be ambitious and angry and sort of grouchy once in a while. Because I think we are that way. So, I think that’s probably why.
Fred, you spew out so many interesting details on this show, what have you learned?
FRED: Oh, gosh.
MARY: You mean about all of his trivia?
FRED: No, some of it’s me. I mean, occasionally.
MARY: You can tell, yeah.
FRED: You know, like the fact that there’s a layer of porcelain and (conk) shells is me, but anything medical science involving giving myself a tracheotomy, or whatever that was on Season 1, that’s something I’m Googling right then and there. And I did learn a few terms that I remember for a few days, but it’s gone now.
MARY: Fred’s a big reader. A lot of the times the literary quotes and stuff is your ideas.
FRED: Yeah, like the humanity stuff, the literature stuff.
MARY: The writers are really sweet about being collaborative and Fred will often say — and you know we had different showrunners come through — so they’re very of Fred’s sense of Marshall. Because Fred and I talk about this a lot, but it’s a really sort of a tightrope, his character. He can’t just be filled with . I don’t know, how would you describe it, Fred? I mean, it’s not that he’s just nerdy.
FRED: No, he’s can’t go to that cliché. I mean, he’s a complicated guy. He’s very curious and he’s interested in everything.
MARY: Right. But, they’ve been very sweet about it. I mean, if Fred has an idea — like I think he would have read a lot of this guy or if he has a better idea for a line — they’re really collaborative, which I think is great.
In a DVD commentary Fred mentioned that you and Mary argued over shooting a particular scene. What kind of things do you typically argue over?
MARY: Do we argue, Fred? We’ve never had an argument while we’re shooting a scene, did we?
FRED: No, I think for the most part we are in [complete harmony].
MARY: When did we argue over a scene?
FRED: I don’t know. I think at some point you mentioned during a commentary some argument or other/
FRED: No, there are many times when Mary is callus and unfeeling and —
MARY: Mary, the character?
FRED: No, Mary McCormack, who really makes Mary Shannon look like a sensitive woman probably.
MARY: He’s evil. Seem warm and cuddly? Oh, dear.
FRED: She’s a [challenging woman].
MARY: This is not fair. I don’t like where this is going. [laughter]
*** SPOILER ALERT ****
What do you feel about Brandi running away like that in the finale?
MARY: Well, I loved it. I thought it was such a great. I thought it was so great because it’s just because Nichole’s so good at playing that stuff. I thought she did a great job in the scene. And like people say, it’s hard to escape your nature. So I think that was a really nice scene. I love it. I loved (that scene because that was that).
FRED: I was just saying it’s harder to escape your nature, especially when your nature’s kind of crucial to the dynamic of the show.
MARY: Yeah, that’s true too. That helps us out. But also, it’s a show. It’s nice. It’s just a nice development. In the finale, you look for opportunities to make people come back and you look for opportunities of a cliffhanger without things being cheeseball. So I think that it added to the whole drama of what’s going to happen next season and what does that mean for Peter? And I just think it’s a great bit of writing of cliffhanger quality.
To see the climatic fourth season finale and where it exactly leaves our intrepid heroes as they stare down a sniper and face a possible runaway bride, tune in for IN PLAIN SIGHT on Sunday, August 7th at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network. Catch up on past episodes you may have missed for free online at clicktowatch.tv
Tiffany Vogt is a contributing writer to TheTVAddict. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).