Tim Griffin Chats With Me Vaguely About NBC’s Prime Suspect – Exclusive Interview

So, Prime Suspect is premiering tonight, and I’ve got an interview for you with Tim Griffin who stars as Augie Blando. It was one of the most interesting interviews I’ve conducted in quite a while, and I don’t think I ever actually asked him a question.

Unfortunately, due to some technical issues, the first half of the interview is lost to the aether, and it wasn’t until he called me back that the recorder actually recorded anything. There were serious things afoot on the technical side of things.

It’s rather sad too, because we talked about all manner of great things, including how brilliant Hill Street Blues was, and how much most cop shows that are on the air right now suck. Well, except for that one you’re thinking of… that one is great, but lots of the others.

If Tim’s gusto for the show, and overall ability to talk it up, are any judge, this is the show you don’t want to miss.

Actually, it’s a really good show, and while it really bares very little resemblance to the original (and how could it?), there’s something of the spirit of the original that comes through.

More on the show soon, but for now, I’ll just leave you to enjoy the interview… as best as I could transcribe it. I would have edited it up more, but it was just a cool conversation. I’ll warn you that, as I said, it didn’t go like most interviews. I didn’t really ask anything, and he didn’t really “answer.” We just talked, almost as though we knew each other to be honest, and I just happened to ask about the new thing he was working on. Of course, there was almost fifteen minutes or so that you aren’t going to get that preceded this part, but there you go. I wish I could get that back for you, because the time I got to talk with him deserves to be up there.

Be sure to tune in tonight on NBC (at some time – check your listings), and at the bottom you’ll find a couple of preview clips.

Go!

 

Tim – Some of these shows that have taken over and established themselves over the last fifteen years… It’s a boilerplate. It could be any cast. These guys are taking these incredible stories, borrowing elements from the original, borrowing from our own personalities. Case in point, my right-hand-man on the show, and it’s a friendship that just came so naturally, is Kirk Acevedo. Brilliant actor. We come from totally different backgrounds, and are totally different, but when we came together, everybody thinks we’ve known each other since the third grade.

It’s funny because we have many mutual friends, and I was told by multiple people, “Oh, are you working with Kirk Acevedo? He’s a really intense guy. Doesn’t always click with everybody. So, we hang out all the time, and like to talk to the writers, and it just comes up that Kirk is like this incredible marathon runner. He did the New York Marathon in like 3 hours 7 seconds, and it kills him that he missed it by those 7 seconds. But, so, we talk to the writers, and the next thing you know, it gets worked into the script in a brilliant, hilarious way. You just get that feel, that it is a very flexible, organic thing, where they love to take stuff like that.

The more they get to know us, and that’s the great thing is that everyone… everyone is very different and have these amazing personalities. And, we’re all completely different, but we mesh together so well.

 

Just like the people you play.

 

Tim – Just like the people we play, exactly, to the point that they’re freaked out. It’s so odd. And, Damon Gupton is playing a character that’s named Evrard, who is based on a real guy, and I swear to God, you put these guys next to each other, and their characteristics, their tone of voice, their demeanor, and attitude, it’s freakish.

It’s just one of those things where the parts just go hand in hand with the people. And, I’m playing Augie Blando, and you know, my whole four sides of my family are Irish. I’m born and raised in Chicago. My wedding ring is a Claddagh ring. What are the odds that I get to play a guy…? I mean, I’ve worked forever. I’ve never gotten to play a guy… And, people know me, I’m a… fun guy to have around. I’m just a happy guy. So, to have a character that’s written…

And yet, it’s funny, because I’ll be the guy who comes in, and I’ve got to interrogate Matt Damon… you always try to find ways to get your personality in… but, I’ve never seen such a perfect marriage. I can’t believe I’m doing a one-hour drama that has so much humor in it, that’s just such a joy to play. It doesn’t even feel like work at all.

 

That’s funny, because I was going to ask you… you have kind of a complex balance that you have to go with, on the very serious show, but you’re kind of the funny guy…

 

Tim – That’s true. But, you know, you don’t ever want it to be a caricature. But, like I say, they’ll use things that just happen naturally.

I’ll tell you what though, you know who set the tone for us? Pete Berg when we were shooting the pilot… there’s a fairly brutal murder, and it’s based on a real thing, you know, when the kids are watching their mother get butchered to death, and we come in, and I think it was our first day… we’re all walking in, and we’re thinking, “How do you react to this?” So, we did the scene, and we did the dialog as written, and Pete Berg says, you know, “That was great,” but he says, “Now listen. This is a heavy situation, but you guys do this all the time. So, I know you want to pay respect, and I know you want to do this and that, but guess what, Augie, you have to take a shit like you can’t believe…”

And then you suddenly realize, that’s the way it is in real life. You might be doing your job, and you realize that you had ten cups of coffee before you walked into this room, and you’ve got to find a toilet.

And then you get Kirk Acevedo, and he see you dancing on the balls of your feet, as Pete Berg says, and he’s going to fuck with you.

That really made the overall tone. You’re real people, and this is your job. You’re friends, and it’s also like working. You realize that the real guys, that’s how they approach the situation. They’ll walk in and look at a stabbing victim and know that’s it’s going to be a mountain of paperwork, and say, “Uhhh… well, it’s an obvious suicide.”

It takes a special type of person to be able to do that, and not be a completely self-destructive person. And, of course, some of them are.

 

It’s interesting that you mention that to, because, a lot of the other show that we’re talking about… you know, it sucks that actors would have that said to them, but really they are kind of replaceable, because it’s so about the story. But then, a lot of these shows, now they’re on for like 3, 4, a jillion years, and we’ve been watching them all this time, and it’s like they never get to that point, like you’re talking about. You know, every next show, still everything is very serious, and we’re always very serious.

 

Tim – Right. You know that I cannot name names, buy you… I mean, exactly. Which, by the way, then you get on a show, like I recurred on Grey’s Anatomy for many seasons. That’s a show… you know, it was a big deal to T. R. Knight when we were brought on that show, I think we were brought on the second season… as his family, because he… it was like a validation. Ok, they care enough about my character…

 

That I have a family.

 

Tim – Right. It’s like let’s see behind the curtain as to what makes these people tick. And, to have a show that is willing to go on those journeys.

Like, you know the show that I always throw up there… a show like LOST, when you watch a show like LOST, and you realize the journeys that those characters go on. It’s so complex.

I think it’s like you say, you know everything is coming full circle, and I think now they want to take this genre, out of just the, you know, Captain Serious, and put it in the real world. And, make it watchable, and give it a real voice. Which is why, you know, the cable networks are able to go out there and push the boundaries.

 

Yeah, you know a lot of shows on cable are doing some great things, and I think a lot of them are getting back to ideas of… you know, let’s just worry about the characters, and see what happens.

 

Tim – Because, they’re not worried about… you know, Breaking Bad isn’t worried about losing sponsors, they’re just saying, let’s just make a great show. Of course, the networks are a little more hand-cuffed. I think that’s why Bob Greenblatt is now in charge, because, you know, he took Showtime… I don’t know if you remember, but Showtime was… I don’t want to say a joke, but it was like…

 

It was very little.

 

Tim – I mean, it was like HBO was the brother on steroids that you could never compete with, but he brought respectability and quality, and said, let’s just make quality shows. And, now he’s like, let’s just get back to making quality shows at NBC. Don’t make shows that are disposable and fail.

On our show, you know, he was like, “You tell me.” I mean, the network was very supportive of all their choice. So, you’d like stuff like that to be rewarded. You know, when you go for quality, you hope that they’re proved right. On not like, you know, “Oh, thank you for trying to bring quality programming back to network TV, but we’re going to watch the thing where the guy gets the football in the nuts.”

 

Yeah, there are four reality shows on… sorry.

 

Tim – One of the Jersey Housewives broke off, and now she’s a plumber.

 

You’re joking, but you’re unaware of the reality there.

 

Tim – And, you know, we’re not like, oh, this is the most complex character. I mean, we’re all so approachable. We just, you know, we think it’s great. We’re all watching the monitors during each others scenes.

 

Well, and like I said, it’s good to see that you’re really getting a big push. That’s one of the scary things of network vs. cable. You know cable can usually afford to stick around for a while, and see how things develop. But, people get scared of network shows sometimes.

 

Tim – Well, you never say never, but it seems like they’re thrilled with the show, so everything seems to suggest that they are very much behind it. It’s nice to know, you know, because I’ve been on shows… I did a show called Against the Grain a million years ago, one of Ben Affleck’s first shows… incredible pedigree cast, nice producers… the difference was, you could always tell we were fighting for our life. They put us on Friday night… at 10:00, you know. It wasn’t that the network wasn’t behind us, but you could tell, we weren’t…

 

Well, you know, it’s nothing that’s ever changed. I mean you can tell right now, with all the fall shows… clearly your show has a huge push… and you can tell the other shows, and they might look good, but you know, it seems like I’m not hearing about them all the time.

 

Tim – On the flip side of that, you know Grey’s Anatomy, when they first put that on as a replacement, I mean, I think the first season was like seven episodes. I don’t think they really thought it would ever turn into anything. Not that they didn’t, but I think it was a surprise.

And LOST. You know, I heard that the people who brought that on were like on their way out, and then it’s like, wait a minute. This thing is a juggernaut. Like maybe when you see the pilot… I remember reading a review of LOST, and it’s like this looks like a Nordic volleyball team got shipwrecked… I mean it was just beautiful, eye candy people… and then it’s anything but that.

 

I think that was probably my review. I really didn’t like that show at first.

 

Tim – I know, I mean, even me, and I did three films with J. J. Abrams – Cloverfield, Star Trek, and Super 8 – but… I remember telling him, because I was a fan, “Please tell me there’s an endgame.” But, I appreciate it, because it takes a lot of attention to watch the show, I mean they were almost daring you to, you know… well, if you’re not going to follow it… in the end, you know people came to appreciate it. But, at the same time, I think when I first saw it too, I was like… Really?

I mean, you never know… for all I know Pan Am is going to be… I don’t know… the grittiest drama since NYPD Blue, or… I don’t know. Actually, I don’t know anything about any other shows. I’ve heard, you know, everyone’s like… you’re on Prime Suspect… good choice. You backed the right pony. Like I had a choice.

 

Right. Like, I had the option to be on any show I wanted so…

 

Tim – Right. I turned down all those shows. I remember, it’s so funny, I had just come off a film, and they had given me the worst haircut. It was the most embarrassing thing. I then I had to go in to meet Pete Berg one time, and I was just like, yeah, this is never going to happen. So, sometimes… maybe you did something good in another life.

And you know, that’s the thing… I’ve been on shows where, you know, people are like looking at their watch. Here you have all very accomplished people, and we’re all so thrilled to be working on this show. That’s the best you can hope for.

 

 

RU?

 

Marc Eastman
Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.

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