A Chat with Justin Kirk, Justin Kirk interview, "Weeds"

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Justin Kirk bounced around television in the early part of his career, and after a couple of healthy stints on “Jack & Jill” (as Barto) and “Angels in America” (as Prior Walter), he finally got his big break when he landed the role of Andy Botwin on Showtime’s hit comedy “Weeds,” which is in the midst of its fourth season. The unsurprisingly affable actor spoke with Bullz-Eye about how he won the role, what he thinks of the show’s new direction, and whether or not he’d be willing to make out with Mary-Louise Parker.

Bullz-Eye: Justin, thanks for talking to us.

Justin Kirk: My pleasure.

BE: Two episodes into the new season… Now that the Botwins are at the beach, the show has changed its dynamic a bit. How do you like the new feel, and is it going to last the whole season?

JK: Yeah, I think it was really important to change things up. We’re in our fourth season, and I think that the thing about the show is - the essential storyline is the continuing rise of Nancy Botwin through the ranks of criminality. The first season of her selling dime bags to college kids now seems sort of quaint, you know, with what the show’s become. There was no juice left in that, but it was great while it lasted. Our writers had the courage to make it into a new show, which I think you have to do if you’re lucky enough to last for a while. So it’s been really great – we get to hang out at the beach instead of the middle of the desert like we used to on the days that we’re not at our studio. Yeah, I think we’re going to be there for the time being.

BE: Albert Brooks joins the cast as your father – how do you like working with him and what does he bring to the table?

JK: Sooooo exciting. I’m obviously a huge fan of his movies. He’s only around for four episodes at this point. Hopefully, maybe he’ll pop his head back in at some point. But he was just completely invested in the show and in being an actor, because a lot of people know him from “Broadcast News,” but his sort of very unique career is writing and directing and starring in his own movies. I think he does that because he likes to be an actor. He got to do that with us and they gave him some really cool material, and a lot of it was with me, so that was fun.

BE: This might be a strange question…

JK: Strange questions are good.

BE: Good. There sometimes seems to be some sexual tension between Andy and Nancy, and at other times there’s kind of big sis/little brother feel to their relationship. How do you see that relationship developing over the next couple of seasons?

JK: That’s a good question. Well, Mary-Louise and I like each other. I’ve known her for many years and we did a job before this – “Angels in America” – so we have a good working relationship and a good personal relationship. I always used to say that it would be a little… a little wrong for anything of a more intimate nature to go down between those two characters. As time goes on on “Weeds,” I’ve realized that never say never is probably the best motto to stick by. So if the script shows up at my door and I have to put my tongue in Mary-Louise’s mouth, then so be it. They pay me, so I have to do what they say.

BE: You have to be a good soldier.

JK: I do. I do. I have to take one for the team.

“So if the script shows up at my door and I have to put my tongue in Mary-Louise’s mouth, then so be it.”

BE: Prior to getting this role, you bounced around on TV for a while, but I remember you most as the somewhat sheepish Barto on “Jack & Jill.”

JK: Yes, oh, thanks for remembering.

BE: I enjoyed that show. Andy Botwin is a very different character – did the producers seek you out or did you read for this role?

JK: I did read for it. I don’t know that the producers were aware of “Jack & Jill.” I think they knew “Angels,” so pretty much I had heard that Mary-Louise was doing this new show about a pot dealing single mom and I thought it sounded cool. And I just got an appointment with some material. I didn’t know it was going to turn into what it did, but the material was so great. It was the stuff that was in my first episode, which was episode four of Season One. So I was like, yeah, I’ll go and check that out, and the next day they signed me up for many, many years. You know, as a series regular, so it’s been a great time ever since.

BE: My wife and I watch the show religiously, and we didn’t really get hooked on it until Andy arrived on scene.

JK: I concur. I concur. I brought the show to a whole new level. Oh wait, that might not read well. I think that character at the time became something they could go lots of different places with because they knew I was willing to go lots of different places.

BE: Okay, according to Internet Movie Database, you have four films in various stages of production…

“I brought the show to a whole new level. Oh wait, that might not read well.”

JK: The ol’ IMDb. Well, one of them isn’t really real at this point. The one that’s called “Roleplay.” I love that IMDb because sometimes they have things on there that are not necessarily real. That’s a real script and I hope it happens someday, but that’s really only the stage that that’s in. The other three are in the can. “Four Boxes” is a movie that I did with my childhood friend, who is shooting his first feature. [Ed Note: We believe he is referring to Wyatt McDill, but at press time, Kirk’s representatives were not available for confirmation.] He’s an extremely talented guy, who had made some shorts and was finally making his first feature. We made it for a dollar, and I think it’s pretty cool. “See You in September” is a romantic comedy set in Manhattan that I did with Estella Warren and some other cool people like Sandra Bernhard. Also including Maulik Pancholy, who you may know as Sanjay. He and I have now worked together three times. I met him when he was playing a med student and he did a couple of episodes of “Jack & Jill,” so that was cool. So he was around for “Weeds” and now he’s pretty much on every television show that there is.

BE: Was that all random or did you have anything to do with it?

JK: Yeah, totally random. There are a lot of actors, so it’s funny when you end up with people you worked with before. And the last one is called “Against the Current,” which is a cool movie, sort of a road movie on the Hudson River that I did with Joseph Fiennes and Elizabeth Reaser. And also Mary Tyler Moore and Michelle Trachtenberg are in it. Essentially it’s about… Joe’s character is still grieving over his dead wife and decides he wants to swim the Hudson River, which is something we talked about when we were kids. So I join him on that trip and secure the boat while he does it and Liz Reaser comes along as well. That’s a pretty cool movie as well. There all sort of in their final editing stages. I’m doing additional dialogue recording on “Against the Current” on Monday, so we’ll see. They’re all indies. You never know about those kinds of movies when you make them in terms of how far they’ll get. But I’ve had good luck in the past. You go and make a little movie and you say, “Well, maybe it’ll never see the light of day,” and a couple of them went to Sundance and played in art houses and stuff like that. So, we’ll see.

BE: Are you done shooting this season?

JK: No we’re in the middle of episode 11 and we have 13, so we wrap in mid-July.

BE: So you have how much time off between that and your next gig?

JK: That’s the thing about “Weeds” – it’s a very brief season, so I don’t really think of it as a hiatus because it’s about eight or nine months. It only takes three us to four months to do the whole deal. So assuming we come back for [Season] five, I see no reason to assume any differently. Since our premiere episode was the highest-rated telecast in the history of Showtime.

BE: I hadn’t heard that.

JK: It’s doing well, so I assume we’ll be back for at least another [season], and we usually start up again in April.

BE: All right, we’ll that’s about all I have for you. Thanks a lot for your time.

JK: Hey, my pleasure. Thanks for talking to me.

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