Today’s TV Addict Top 5: Questions with GCB Star Mark Deklin

As ratings quietly uptick on GCB, ABC’s newest addition to its Sunday night lineup that chronicles the soapy and scandalous misadventures of what some might call a little-too-tight-knit of a churchgoing community deep in the heart of Dallas, thought now might be as good a time as any to catch up with a big part of the reason why. Off screen you know him as Mark Deklin, the talented actor whose mile long imdb resume includes stints on everything from BETTER OFF TED and BIG LOVE to LAS VEGAS and NIP/TUCK. On screen you know him currently as Blake Reilly, one half of GCB’s most interesting marriages. See for yourself, after the jump.

Was the fact that your GCB character is harboring such a big secret a major part of the appeal in terms of what attracted you to a role that might have very easily amounted to little more than arm candy for Cricket (The pitch perfect Miriam Shor)?
Mark Deklin: Absolutely. No question about it. No actor wants to keep playing the same role over and over and over again, so you’re always looking for something that’s different and has complexity and layers. Being secretly gay, Blake obviously has secrets and layers built in so that definitely attracted me to the role right away. Having played a lot of sort of square-jawed professional suit wearing types on television and it’s sort of nice to play something that’s a departure from that.

Having spent much of your career in Los Angeles and New York, two major metropolitan areas known for being both liberal and very accepting, was it a challenge as an actor to put yourself in the mindset of a character who has to hide the truth about who he is?
That was my biggest challenge with this character from the get go. Like you said, we live on the coasts, I’ve got countless gay friends, but they’re all out. I don’t know anyone who is in the closet so I came into the role with a little prejudice and this feeling like this guy is living a lie. For me, the biggest key was Bobby Harling, Darren Star and the creative team on the pilot, who made it very clear that Blake is not self-tortured or self-hating. He’s not in the closet because he hates who he is or doesn’t want to be who he is. In fact, what he’s doing is embracing it in his own way. Being the cowboy that he is, one of Dallas’ favorite sons, this loveable pillar of the community, a family man, is also very much apart of who Blake is. And as the season continues we’re going to find out more and more about the arrangement that Blake and Cricket made together. For instance, he’s a terrific father and part of the deal so to speak was having a family. So in his own way he found a marriage that works for him so that he can sort of live the way he needs to live and not lie to his partner in life. At the end of the day, are we condoning this life style? No, but we’re not condemning it either.

That being said, we’re talking GCB here, which means it’s probably safe to assume that Blake and Cricket’s little arrangement won’t be complication free! Is there anything you can tease in terms of what audiences can expect in the coming episodes?
As the series continues we’re going to see the rules and dynamics of what their marriage is and how Blake and Cricket manage this balancing act. Meaningless sex… that’s okay! But introducing real emotions… that’s cheating! As soon as you start having genuine feelings for your “yoga instructor,” that’s treading into betrayal territory. And without giving too much away, we’re going to see that down the road. Not from Blake mind you, but from Cricket where she’s going to have a real moral dilemma to wrestle with.

According to your IMDB resume, you love to sing and play guitar. Is that something we might see your character doing on a show that also stars Kristin Chenoweth?
We are! There’s an episode coming up where we put on a church musical and that was really fun. One of the great things about this character is that because he doesn’t have a template and we’ve never seen this kind of marriage on TV before, we have no stereotypes to play. So I have basically gotten to build — alongside the writers — this character from scratch which has allowed me to bring a lot of my own personality and skill set to the dance. So when I approached [Creator] Bobby Harling and said, “Look, you know I sing and we’re in a show with Kristin Chenoweth,” he is able to find a way to write a duet with her. Of course, because our show isn’t GLEE and it wouldn’t make much sense for us to suddenly burst into song, Bobby came up with this idea to put on a Church musical. Let me say, Blake definitely has his time to shine and gets to bust out a little bit which was really fun. It was actually one of my favorite episodes to shoot. It’s episode 8 and in the storyline our Church is competing with a neighboring one to put on the best musical and ours is an original musical written by Heather [Marisol Nichols] called ‘The Miracles of Jesus’ based on the New Testament. It’s a very loose and silly adaptation not entirely like Waiting For Guffman..

Recently GCB found itself the subject of some controversy when certain candidates running for office and political organization attempted to spur on a boycott the show based on the title of the book [Good Christian Bitches] on which the series is based on. How do you as an actor react when people or groups turn your livelihood into a media firestorm?
On the one hand they’re generating publicity for us which is great, but on the other hand, if they win and manage to shut our show down that sucks because we’re out of a job. Personally, I think the show treats religion with the utmost respect and I think these people are reacting more to the title than the content of the show. But it does bother me a little bit because while I don’t practice a religion myself, I was raised in the Christian Church and I have a lot of friends who are practicing Christians and are active churchgoers and I don’t have any disrespect for them and have no reason to piss on their religion. I had said this to a lot of my churchgoing friends, I said you know what, watch the show because not only do I think you won’t be offended by it but I actually think you’ll feel included by it. It will resonate with you even more than non churchgoers because it takes place in that world, rings true and is very respectful of the church and of the teaching of Christ. And what I’m finding is that a lot of Christians who have a sense of humor and who are not hypocrites themselves are loving the show.

GCB airs Sundays at 10PM on ABC (CTV in Canada). Photo Credit: Angelo Kritikos

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