Those of us who watch TV know Jay Harrington from his multiple guest arcs on various shows over the years. DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, SUMMERLAND, GHOST WHISPERER, WITHOUT A TRACE, LAS VEGAS, the list goes on. Recently, he’s finishing up an arc on ABC’s PRIVATE PRACTICE as the arrogant Wyatt Lockhart, and this Spring, he’s tackling a new role – that as the title character on ABC’s brilliant new comedy BETTER OFF TED.
I had the chance to speak with Jay earlier this week about what we should expect from Wyatt moving forward, the chance of him continuing on PRIVATE PRACTICE, what shows his new comedy is like, and the two cable series that, in his opinion, don’t get enough credit!
Am: We’ll just first to talk about PRIVATE PRACTICE and your character on that show. What’s coming up in your story arc?
Jay Harrington: Well, I take on, where we left off, I take on a patient who wants to have a baby and I give her some pretty aggressive treatments. Ultimately I have to ask, and need, the help of Addison to make things work out. That’s where the tension is between Kate’s character and I. Ultimately, trying to find a way to work together for the greater good.
Is there a sexual tension there between your and Kate’s characters, or is it strictly aggression at work?
I think professional tension leads to that, because they’re two very similar people. Two similar characters with the ambition and the ego. Which ultimately leads the challenge of working together and wanting to do things that are each others’ way. Hopefully it does lead to a little chemistry [laughs].
The character is recurring - will you recur through the rest of the season or is there a finite number of episodes?
Well, at this point, there’s an arc of four, and it’s certainly open ended. It could lead to more. That’s depending on many things. The show I’m doing for ABC [editor's note: it's hilarious!] as well as they didn’t know where PRIVATE PRACTICE was headed. I’m certainly open to more. As I said to another person earlier today, Wyatt doesn’t jump off a cliff.
So PRIVATE PRACTICE moves to Thursdays this week – why do you think viewers should follow the show to the new night?
From my end, Kate and I, we come to a head over this client, this patient, and we have some great stuff together. As far as the show itself, I watched it from the get go. I feel like its found its groove. I think it’s a great opportunity to catch it if they haven’t already because there’s really good work that’s going on with that show. It’s a continuation of GREY’S ANATOMY.
So let’s switch gears and talk about BETTER OFF TED [editor's note: This is my new favorite comedy. I cannot say enough good things about this show]. I watched the pilot and I thought it was hilarious.
Oh thank you!
It’s totally up my alley, my kind of comedy. How did this role come to be, is that what you felt like when you read the script?
I’ll be completely honest, when I first read it, it was such a strange time because the strike had happened and things were different. The television season was shortened, there weren’t a lot of projects out there, so I have to first say that I was lucky to get a job, period. But everything works out for a reason. I can’t believe that I walked into one of the better things that I had read in a long time. I don’t want to sit here and say that I took the script home, and I decided to do it, by any means. I had to earn it, and get it. Victor and I first met, and I wanted to understand what he wanted. It’s such a stylized show, he painted such a specific vision that I was fortunate to get to talk to him before I went in and read for him. Because it was something I’d never seen, aside from MALCOM IN THE MIDDLE where it was a young kid speaking through the camera, here is a grown man telling his thoughts and feelings right down Broadway. It was one of those things I read and thought “this is really good, I hope that people understand it” because even at first sight, I didn’t quite get it.
You mentioned MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE as a comparison. What other shows would you compare it to for people to get an idea?
I mean, in the sense that it’s a workplace, you have certainly SCRUBS. And THE OFFICE is another workplace situation. And ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT and it’s not just because Portia was on the show. I feel like there are similarities between our show and that. Not to compare it in any way because it’s a brilliant show and I don’t want to go that far. I just feel that the same sort of thru line exists, where you have such strange, I don’t want to say strange, but there’s a farcical world existing, and playing the straightman, my end of the day goal is to always do the right thing, and ultimately do it for my conscience and my conscience is well represented by my 7 year old daughter. That, I would say, would be the comparison to ARRESTED.
Oh the little girl who plays your daughter [Isabella Acres] is fantastic [editor's note: she's doubly fantastic after seeing episode 2].
Yeah, she really is. She’s 7, I think she’s going on 8. She’s really just a great girl. She’s done a couple things, but she comes to work and she knows everything, her lines. She’s really great to work with. There’s that old saying “Don’t work with children or animals” but I have to disagree! She’s a joy!
When is BETTER OFF TED premiering? Do you guys know yet?
We do not. Start to look for it, and hopefully by March is what we’re leaning towards.
When you get a chance, what shows do you sit and watch?
I’m a fan of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER on CBS, certainly GREY’S ANATOMY and UGLY BETTY. PRIVATE PRACTICE. And then 30 ROCK and THE OFFICE. I try to split it up between comedy and drama. But that’s just the basic cable. One of my favorite shows is BROTHERHOOD on Showtime. For some reason, not a lot of people watch.
I know what you mean – it’s one of my top ten, and no one talks about it!
I don’t why people don’t. That and THE WIRE. It baffles me that is has never been mentioned. I just read something came out for the Producers’ Guild and they don’t mention it. THE WIRE specifically, but BROTHERHOOD, too. Jason Isaacs whose done everything from HARRY POTTER, he was Captain Hook. He’s so good. He’s a British guy playing a Providence Irish thug.
And I think Jason Clarke is Australian…
Exactly! I grew up outside of Boston, and I have friends from Providence, and their accents, even, are spot on!
Thank you again, and good luck in the future.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
PRIVATE PRACTICE airs tonight at 10 in its new time slot following an all new GREY’S ANATOMY. BETTER OFF TED (one of the funniest shows I’ve seen in a really long time) is coming some time this spring!