Saying goodbye to a beloved television series is never easy. Fortunately for the series IN PLAIN SIGHT, it has had five fantastic seasons to share the stories and adventures of U.S. Marshals Mary Shannon and her partner Marshall Mann as they work with the various people entering witness protection. In a recent conference call with press, its stars Mary McCormack and Fred Weller shared what the experience has been like for them and what fans can expect over the last 8 episodes as the series comes to a close.
Can you just talk about kind of what we can expect this final season?
MARY: USA Network did really, I think, a very cool thing of telling us it was the final season before we began, which allowed us to really write it differently. To sort of decide what we wanted to be invested in. I mean people dedicated sort of five years to the show. I think it’s a nice way to honor the fans of the show by essentially respecting that. We deal with one of the big stories of the series, which has been the relationship between Mary and her father — this is a guy who left when she was 7 — and I think had a huge sort of influence on her journey and the person she is. So there’s a lot of really great scenes and that storyline is for the built into. What else? The relationship with Abigail. We have my adjusting to being a new mother. So there’s a lot of stuff. I mean I think the 8 episodes are some of our best. We’re excited.
What has continued to be a challenge for the both of you?
MARY: Well, Fred’s often challenged. I mean Fred’s a challenge. [Laughter] I don’t know. I mean we have a good time. I guess that’s challenging. I mean challenging for me is the stamina involved. It’s the hours we work. That’s a challenge. And Fred and I both have really little kids. So I’d say for me it’s just the stamina and the hours because the actual work is fun and the people we work with is really fun.
What are some of the memories you remember most though that you’ll cherish the most from your time on IN PLAIN SIGHT?
MARY: Fred in drag, now I wasn’t going to tell everybody. But now it’s out. Fred is in drag this season. That’s a hard memory for me to shake, as much as I’d like too. It was shocking, just shocking because – Fred, I think you’re handsome – I know I don’t say it a lot. But you’re handsome.
FRED: Thank you Mary.
MARY: And it does not translate. You are not pretty.
FRED: I am not, let me say I am not my type.
MARY: I agree. You’re not my type either. It’s funny because you are an attractive man and somehow it does not translate. Your bone structure is not at all feminine.
FRED: Really I’m not. I’m just not pretty, homely. [Laughter]
MARY: What other memories? We have had a lot of fun, Fred and I. What other memories do we have? Dancing. One time Fred had — oh no, I can’t tell that one. I can’t. We have a lot of laughs. We have a lot. Remember, Fred? Remember that one time you tried to kick the door and you went through the door like “The Shining.”
FRED: Yes, and you told them to keep rolling and my foot was stuck. [Laughter]
MARY: Oh I’ve never laughed harder in my life. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I was so happy.
FRED: Yes, you thought that was very funny.
MARY: It was funny!
FRED: You know what I love? I love doing is all the action sequences, plans and props with you. We were really picky about those.
MARY: A lot of scanning.
FRED: Yes. That’s what we learned from our technical advisor. Just always be scanning.
MARY: Our technical advisor comes up to us and you’d think he’s have some really good piece of advice. But he’s like, “Don’t forget to scan. Just always be scanning.” So Fred and I were ABS, ABS — always be scanning.
FRED: That’s fun stuff.
You once characterized Mary Shannon as the least maternal person in the world. How is she going to change this season given that she has a baby?
MARY: She changes in a lot of ways, and sort of forced to sort of change. I mean there’s a lot of things going on in her life. Her father comes back. Fred is in a relationship. Lot’s of things in her life. Her mother is sober and sort of moving out, and everyone seems to be moving out of her life. And the one thing that she never thought she’d be: a mother. So it’s actually, to me, it was real exciting. I mean I didn’t plan to shake up the show by getting pregnant. But Jeff Wachtel, who is the head of USA Network, was very sweet when I called him and told him I was pregnant and sort of thought it was a great opportunity – or at least he said it was — but he thought it was a great opportunity for a really cool character development for Mary.
In the first episode, the anti- social Mary kind of feels like she is out of the loop since she’s been gone. Is that something that’s going to continue throughout the season?
MARY: No, she snaps back into it. I think it’s just she’s been away for six months and no one really knows how to treat her as a mother, and she didn’t really know where she fits back in. I think she gets a handle on it pretty quickly and is so happy to do that. I don’t think she’s a girl who could stop working. She’d be even crazier.
With Mary’s dad coming back into play, can you say anything about the circumstances that he comes back?
MARY: Yes. I mean I don’t know how much I can say. I won’t say too much because it’s so exciting to watch. He was a criminal and a fugitive. So when he comes back, it’s a pretty big deal and I’m in law enforcement. So it’s not easy reconciliation. She’s injured. I mean, over the years you’ll see how much that his leaving broke her heart. But I think we really see it in episode when he comes back at end of 5, in 6 and 7 and on. You get a real sense of just how much damage it did to her and how much she really wishes it had been different. Steven [Lang] is a great actor and I hope it all turns out well because we’re having fun making it. It’s a big part of her life — Mary Shannon’s life. . . I felt like, you know, we talked about it every season. We were like, “Maybe he should come back now” and smartly Jeff Wachtel was always like, “I think you should wait. I think you wait” and I think he was right. That is such a big part of Mary’s character. I think that injury that it really helps to have it in this final season because it feels like a form of closure to be telling that story now.
Fred, you once said Marshall is well aware of his feelings for Mary and vice versa. Do you think Marshall is going to admit his feelings to Mary now that the show is coming to a close?
FRED: I think he’s going to have to sort that out a little more than he has in the past. At the same time those feelings are kind of revolving. I mean the fact that she’s had a baby is a big factor there. I think it’s possible that Marshall might be ready to face the fact that his relationship with Mary has been one of sibling rivalry for so long now that it might be better or him to move on romantically. It’s possible. It’s really possible that even though he’s this romantic guy.
What is the hardest thing Mary and Marshall are working through this season?
MARY: Well, obviously together there’s this long history of “will they or won’t they”. And sometimes I’m in a relationship and sometimes he’s in a relationship, and that’s always complex. This final season does explore that further. I mean, I don’t want to give it away if we will or we won’t. But we definitely deal with it. And I think it’s dealt with in an adult way. I think that’s definitely some conflict for us. Other than that, we’re partners and we sort of just go off and do our thing together and have fun. Make each other laugh. And then Mary’s own conflict — I mean I can’t speak to Fred. I guess Fred has his own conflict about his relationship with Abigail and whether that’s right or whatever — but I have mine with my father and what that means him coming back.
What do you think, Fred? What’s Marshall’s biggest problem?
FRED: Well I mean that whole idea of: Who am I going to marry? I don’t envy people who are still in that part of their life because that’s just the biggest most awful decision. It’s huge. It’s so stressful. So Marshall is experiencing all that. I mean he’s in a serious relationship with this girl, and then he’s working with this person that he knows he’s got feelings for. But Mary’s got a baby by another man. It’s awfully messy and awfully complicated.
How do you think both Marshall and Mary have changed since we saw them in Season 1, if any?
FRED: Marshall was an extreme romantic. And I think he’s becoming a little bit more of a realist. I think some of Mary’s realism has rubbed off on him.
About the Rachel Boston’s character, how much more serious are things going to get for those two over the next couple of episodes?
MARY: Can’t tell.
FRED: Well, let me just say that it is a period of turmoil for Marshall. And it’s a source of great conflict and inner conflict and interpersonal conflict for the show. So it’s good stuff.
They’re caring for a dog together. That’s pretty heavy stuff.
FRED: That’s commitment. That’s major.
MARY: You know, that dog was actually written for me and I was like I couldn’t believe it because it was sort of planned before I told anyone I was pregnant. Then when I spilled the beans that I was pregnant, I was like, “Please don’t give me a dog and a baby or I will never see my own children again.” So that was when we re-wrote it. We’re like, “and she gives the dog away.”
Mary, I was wondering what you could say about the Josh Hopkins’ character. How he’s going to woo you.
MARY: Josh Hopkins’ character? Yes, he certainly does his best. He plays this guy Kenny who I meet in a coffee shop and sort of share a sense of humor with. He is a great actor and a nice guy. So it was fun when he was around, really fun. I like him.
Can you talk about any of the guest stars we’re going to see this season that you haven’t mentioned?
MARY: Oh gosh, we had Tia Carrere this season the brilliant and beautiful Tia Carrere. We have Stephen Lang. He’s amazing.
FRED: The beautiful Julia Jones from the “Twilight” movies.
MARY: Madchen Amick is joining.
MARY: Cristian de la Fuente comes back. That was a treat. Brian Cowen, of course.
Josh Malina wasn’t on the list of stars returning this season. Has he totally been written out?
MARY: Yes he has, yes. . . . Jinx has exploded that relationship in a non-retrievable way. So yes, and he was a great addition. But he’s not coming back.
What about Mary’s sister Jinx? Will she return?
MARY: Yes. Well she’s back in I think it’s just in the finale. She does come back.
Do you have a favorite season of all the seasons that you’ve done?
FRED: My favorite episode is “Horsed.”
MARY: Yes I think “Horsed” is my favorite one too and then I would say my second favorite is “Iris Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”
FRED: Yes, both Season 1. That was great.
MARY: So Season 1.
Fred, can talk a little bit about your next project, THE NORMALS?
FRED: THE NORMALS is a story that takes place inside of a mental facility where the patients are volunteering or subjecting themselves to scientific experiments, and I play an annoying actor who is just there to do research. Bryan Greenberg stars. He’s terrific. He’s very dead-pan. He definitely needs money. He’s on the run from some pretty mean creditors. It’s like a more comedic version of “One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
What do you think you’ve most learned about yourselves that you’ll take away?
FRED: Well I learned that I’m good at working with difficult actresses. [Laughter]
MARY: What have I most learned? I’ve learned a lot about production. I should have, because I’m in most scenes. I know a lot more about how a TV show is made then I ever thought I would learn — budgeted and written. I’ve learned a lot about just the “nuts and bolts” of making an hour long show, which has been great. Actually it’s been sort of an incredible, steep learning-curve. And I’ve learned to forgive myself. I mean, in terms of I used to pride myself on knowing all my lines before I came to set. With three kids and the mode that I have, there’s no way to do that. And I’ve learned to just sort of do the best I can and move on and know that I also have to be there for the kids. If I wake up and spend a half-hour with them, that that’s equally important. It’s hard. That’s what I’ve learned is to be more forgiving to myself.
FRED: Yes, I mean it’s been five seasons of working with a camera. I feel much more comfortable now than when I did before.
MARY: And don’t you think Fred now that you learned that you want do direct?
FRED: Yes, I want to direct.
MARY: Direct, and I think if we had a longer season or one more, I would campaign for that. I wish you’d done that. So I think wherever he ends up next, he should really push to do that because he’s really good at it. I mean often we’re blocking a scene or I’ll ask for a line reading from Fred because I just trust his taste and he sort of sees things in terms of camera. I mean I think he’s a natural. I think you are. I think you’re a natural director.
FRED: Thank you darling. That’s very sweet of you.
MARY: You’re welcome. I’m very sweet. I don’t know. I mean let’s get the word out, I am sweet.
FRED: You’re like a closeted, sweet person. [Laughter]
What do you two think you’ll miss the most once the show is over?
MARY: I’m going to miss Fred the most.
FRED: I’ll miss Mary. I said it first. [Laughter]
MARY: No, it’s true. I really will. We have had a great time together. I can’t imagine — I mean I like to just give Fred garbage — but it’s true. We have a great time together and we laugh a lot and we sort of work in a very similar way. So our days are a lot more fun than then have any right to be for as long as they are. So I think I’ll miss Fred the most and Paul. I mean we work with a great group of actors.
Is there a sort of a sense of melancholy as the conclusion of production approaches?
FRED: I’m sad. I’m sad and Mary’s pretending to be sad. [Laughter]
MARY: No I’m really sad. We have not had a ton of time because we’re racing. We just run, run, run to get it done and then the next one is in production and pre-production. Then there’s re-writes and all this stuff that we sort of involve ourselves with. So we haven’t had a ton of time. But I imagine the end is going to hit us hard because I don’t think that this relationship that Fred and I have happens a lot. I mean I’ve been making television for a thousand years. I’m as old as the hills, and never worked with anyone that I just work with so easily. Fred and I spend a lot of time together and we always enjoy each other every single day. So I think that’s going to be really sad because I sort of know wherever I go after this, it won’t be that. I mean I don’t know about for Fred. I mean he’ll, wander away.
FRED: I’m never going to work again. I’m never working again.
MARY: Who knows what will happen. It is a career wrap for you.
FRED: Pretty much it. [Laughter]
With so many big story arcs coming to a close, you do not want to miss one second of this this final season of IN PLAIN SIGHT which returns Friday, March 16th at 10PM on USA Network. Find out if Marshall and Mary’s “will they or wont they” story concludes their dance with a surprising twist.\
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. 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).