August 5th, 2012 by thetvchick
I had heard so many mixed reviews of The Newsroom (read: mostly bad) that I will admit, I waited until it was a few episodes in to catch up. I quickly realized that you shouldn’t believe all you hear, and was pleasantly surprised at just how much I liked The Newsroom. I worked in news for a long time and seeing this fake newsroom relive the big stories of 2010 and 2011 is quite interesting (and actually quite realistic). One of the big stories that I found myself latching onto was the love triangle between Don, Maggie and Jim. Don started out as this bad guy who seemed disloyal to his anchor and not so good at being a boyfriend. But as the season has played out, Don has really developed and we see that he’s not such a bad guy. He just isn’t so good at this “life shit” as the guy who plays him, Thomas Sadoski, so accurately puts it. I recently had the chance to chat with Sadoski about the fantastic evolution and development of Don, Maggie’s emotional affair with Jim and reliving significant world events.
So let’s talk about what attracted you to the role of Don, because he did start out as a bit of a jerk…just a bit. (laughs)
(laughs) You know, the thing with Don is that he was originally three different characters and after our first table read in New York, Aaron [Sorkin] came to me and said I am going to turn all these three guys into one character for you because I love what you’re doing. So unfortunately, the one character of Don ended up getting piled on. The boyfriend of Maggie who was standing in the way of her and Jim was one character. The executive producer for Will was another character. So he just sort of assumed the worst of all three of these characters (laughs) right out of the gate. But I think one of the great things about Aaron as a writer, and one of the things I’ve enjoyed so much about doing this show, is that Aaron believes in and loves and trusts all of the characters that he writes. I have a different perspective on Don than anyone else because I have to sort of, play him, but right out of the gate, I saw Don’s human side. I had some compassion for him. And realized that he was in a tough situation at work and professionally, he has a lot going on. And that because of all the work stress that was going on, and frankly, there’s no one that works at that network, there’s no one on our show, who is any good at anything socially. We’re all completely socially inept. We’re really, really good at our jobs, which I think that is true for Don, too. Don is really, really good at his job but totally socially inept, and I think one of the tragedies of the shitty work position that he was in, was that his relationship sort of took a back seat. When he sort of opened up his eyes, his girlfriend was off having an emotional affair. And I think that is sort of where we’re at now.
One thing I love about Don is that he really has developed so well throughout these six episodes. Are we going to continue seeing his likable and vulnerable side?
I think you’re going to have to keep on watching. Like I said, it’s one of the things I like so much about Aaron, and one of the things I like so much about playing this part was that I got to grow with it. And definitely I think that the last thing that Aaron wanted this character to be was dismissible. And both he and I felt very strongly about that and we’re very clear about it from the very beginning that if Don was going to start out as a foil, if he was going to start out as an antagonist, that we didn’t want it to stay consistently like that because then the character becomes dismissible. And neither one of us want that. It just doesn’t make for particularly interesting art. I’m excited to see people see where I know that it goes. (laughs)
For sure. (laughs) I feel kind of bad for the guy. Maggie is pretty openly flirting with Jim.
Yeah. It sort of sucks. I think that he’s aware of it but I think that Don is in a really unenviable position at work and is sort of torn between these two worlds. He knows he can be the guy. He could be Jim but his work, what he’s doing and the constraints that he has won’t allow him to be. And I think that there’s something really tragically beautiful about a guy who is watching the person that he loves slip out of his hands but he can’t do anything about it because he’s so locked into his work and who he is. That’s also just me rooting for my guy.
Of course! You have to! Do you think that’s part of what Maggie saw in Don originally? How invested he was in his work. Do you think that’s where the initial attraction came from?
I think that ultimately what you’re dealing with here is two people who are both incredibly focused, incredibly driven, incredibly intelligent and incredibly capable at everything other than being in a relationship. And I think in a lot of ways they are perfect for each other, and in some ways they’re not. And I think that there had to be some sort of initial attraction and I think that you’re exactly right, that’s where it lies.
Do you want Don to fight for Maggie? Are you rooting for him?
(laughs) I mean, I know what happens. But yes, coming into it, I was very aware of it and very protective of the idea. And Aaron was very protective of the idea, that neither one of us wanted this just to be too easy of a decision to make. Right out of the gate, it seems like oh my God, why wouldn’t she be with Jim and get rid of this guy? But as time goes on, you actually start to see this person wake up, put the work aside a little bit and realize wait a minute, this is something that I may be losing and it’s something that’s incredibly important to me. I think that when he tells Maggie I love you every day, that he really does mean that, he just doesn’t know how to do that. But neither does Jim. Neither does Will. Neither does Mackenzie. Sloan obviously doesn’t. It seems like Neal is the only person who has a worthwhile relationship in the whole group. And he’s the youngest.
I loved the scene with Sloan when Don asked are you good at this and she said no. It summed the whole thing up very well.
I really love that scene too because I think it was something incredibly vulnerable between those two characters. And they’re both seeing eye to eye which is like, listen we both know that we’re really, really good at our jobs and we’re both really, really talented at our jobs but do you know how to do this life shit? And no I don’t. And neither do I. What the hell are we going to do? There’s a beautiful moment shared there.
Has it been interesting working in the timeline that the show does? Do you feel like you are reliving some of these events that happened a year ago or more?
Yeah! I do. And there’s something really great about it and I think really important about it, too. It affects us as a cast, in a really close way. But I think has the potential to have the same affect on the people who are watching. When we were shooting these various different episodes, dealing with these various different things, dealing with Gabby Giffords being shot, the death of Bin Laden and Arab Spring and Deep Water Horizon and all that stuff, we had to stop and look and say where is this story now? And nine times out of ten, it was gone. No one was even talking about it anymore. And these are significant news events. So there was something really interesting about going through that, where we to stop and sit and say okay, where is it now? What has developed? Has anything changed or was it just a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing? Did people just make a big deal out of this stuff for a couple of days and then move on to the next tragedy of the week and not do anything to help change the culture that allowed some of this stuff to happen in the first place. So we did get to relive it in a really cool, really exciting, really challenging way and I hope that some of that can be translated to the people who watch.
Absolutely, for me it definitely feels like I’m reliving a lot of these moments. And what do you think has been your biggest challenge so far, playing Don?
That’s a really good question because there are so many. I’m a theater actor, I’m a theater rat, I haven’t really done a lot of TV and film. So there’s this whole world to get introduced to on a consistent basis and just getting used to doing that. It’s a completely different style of work that we do. So I had to really trust in my fellow cast mates. Jeff was incredible with me in terms of giving me pointers and helping me out and guiding me through that stuff. Aaron was amazingly generous and kind going through all that stuff, too. There’s just so much it’s hard for me to pick one thing.
Lastly, what can you tease about what’s coming up? I know you can’t spoil anything but what can you tease about what’s coming up for Don and the rest of the show?
I think that the growth that people have seen that they seem to be enjoying from the character that I play, I think that people will continue to see that. And I think that’s all I can really say. The upcoming episodes, I think that nezt week in particular [Ed. Note: tonight's episode] — I’m so thrilled to be a part of all of them, I’m such a big fan of all of them while we were working on it — but next week in particular has got some really beautiful stuff in it and I’m really excited to see how it’s received.
Be sure to tune in tonight at 10 PM to HBO for an all new episode of The Newsroom.Tweet