Q&A with Dermot Mulroney

Thanks for joining us today! Can you tell us the story of how you came to join the cast of Enlightened?

I was thrilled when I got a call from my agent in regards to playing the role of Jeff. I was really happy because I had watched the show. I was already a fan. Then I met with Mike and Laura who I had recently met before that, and then I got the part.

Enlightened has made a big impact on me, what kind of impression do you think this show is giving on corporate america and workers?

In this day and age, we're all kind of "on" to these people. I haven't seen a tv show about it yet, but I think in recent years, consumer tend to be more savvy and more aware of the impact these companies have on their environment or on their economics. In other words, I think this show appeals to people because pretty much everyone distrusts corporate America, we've learned by now.

Do you prefer working in TV or film? What’s your favorite aspect of each?

I like acting in anything. Television, however, is cool because you can develop a character, or even while you'er playing the character in one scene, you might not know what's coming up. I'm accustomed to knowing the whole story from a screenplay. So it's fun to have the character reveal itself. Enlightened in many ways was like working on both, the best of television and the best of film. The directors that came in to direct the episodes that Mike didn't do was fantastic. The whole feel of it was like filming a movie.

How did the SNL skit come about?

I have no idea. I have no idea. They just called out of the blue on the Thursday and everything got kind of hazy for a day and a half, and then I found myself standing in that famous studio in New York. They approached me with the script already written, as you see it. That name confusion has been hovering around for a long time, so they were playing off that.

Outside of Enlightened, what have been some of your favorite projects?

Recently I enjoyed working on New Girl. That was last year as well, so between Laura Dern and Zooey Deschanel, I really had the creme of the crop. In the fall I completely work on a movie called August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, a great ensemble cast. That was also a fantastic job, very rewarding.

What's your most embarassing acting moment? Do you like to watch your work?

Not knowing my lines in a scene with Holly Hunter, terrible. I learned my lesson that day. Only recently did I start watching my work. You end up having to see the movie a couple times right when it comes out. It's okay, it's not great, it's kind of nervewracking. It can be no fun at all, sometimes.

As an actor, you're constantly in the spotlight. How does that influence you as a person?

I consider myself pretty lucky for being able to navigate the real world without having to behave in any certain kind of way. People are cool in Los Angeles, they're used to it. Everyone's always really cool to me, I'll be stopped by people to take a photo, but more often in other cities in the US.

Why do you think Jeff and Amy make a good match? Or why don’t they?

I think they make a terrific match. I pictured Jeff as a guy who would be in perpetual motion, so he was never going to stay very long. My take is that they are very respectful of one another, want to leave their mark on culture, so they had a good little run there. That is in my opinion. Maybe he's a little blunt when he breaks up with her.

What drew you to Enlightened? You said you were a fan before, how did you discover it ?

The first I became aware of it was from a poster around town with Laura Dern in a state of dishevelment, so I tuned in right from the very first episode.

You are in such good shape. What's your fitness regime like?

I eat more healthy now than I ever have, so that's a lot of it. And I go to the gym, stay fit that way. No real routine.

How do you pick your roles? What qualities do you look for in a character or a script?

I like just about any type of movie so I'm interested in everything. I'm also curious about what my next role is going to be, it's always an adventure.

Amy's on a journey of growth. What advice would you give to a person who wants to achieve growth, but is anxious to change?

I noticed recently about Amy from watching the show, how naive she really is. So I'm hoping that she retains the qualities of wonder that being naive can have, but lose the gullible innocent victim part of being naive. She's almost there, it's been really fun to watch. Her heart is in the right place. She's just got to work on her delivery system.

What was your first day on the set of Enlightened like?

It seemed pretty relaxed. I knew both Laura and Mike just a little bit, so they made me feel right at home. I had met Laura a really long time ago, so it was a nice way in to it feeling like we were meeting for the first time.

Co-creators Mike White & Laura Dern both seem to have such a passionate relationship with this project. What's it like working with the two?

Mike and Laura make a great team. They're very dedicated workers. When you're with them on the set, you get a sense they're on some sort of mission, it's very inspiring to work with both of them and to see how they work with one another.

Some actors say they have difficulties shooting scenes in which their characters laugh. What kind of scenes are difficult for you to do?

I can't think of any particular type of scene that I have difficulty with.

Do you think Jeff was sincere in his efforts to romance Amy or was it just manipulation on his part to get a story?

Of course I think that he was genuine rather than just manipulating her for the story. There's plenty of reasons. She's passionate, funny, unique. I don't feel like Jeff did anything wrong. It's a delicate situation of course.

If acting was not your option for a career. What do you think you would have done instead in it's place?

I remember coming out of college and I had made moves in the direction of working as a cameraman. I thought I'd probably end up doing that, and would have liked to. Something along those lines. Whether I'd still be doing it, 28 years later, like I am now with acting, I don't know.

what's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

I remember my father once told me, about acting, which he knows nothing about, to "represent the epitomy of reality," that's how he put it. I thought that was good advice, for an actor, from a law professor.

Is your character someone you can relate to, or have had similar ideals with?

I think a lot of people can relate to Jeff because he acts on what he believes in, and to accomplish anything, you need to take action. So he's a good role model in a lot of ways. I liked him for that reason myself.

Do you think Laura dern's character's motive for justice is naive?

My reading of it is this. There seems to be an element of Amy of wanting to be recognized, acknowledged, and a lot of people feel that, maybe we all do at some time. Her motives are mixed, but even then, they're coming from an understandable position.

Boxers or Briefs?

To be precise, boxer briefs.

Thanks for taking the time to join us today! Do you have any final words for your fans?

If any of them, like myself, haven't seen the last episode of the season, be sure to watch. I've read the script and it's really terrific. I'm looking forward to it as much as anybody.


Season Finale of Enlightened on Sunday!!!!!