Marital angst in one act
Q: What attracted you to the role of Tom, an unemployed journalist in a failing marriage, in “State of the Union”?
A: Overall, I think I was drawn to this odd structure of the show, this 10-by-10-minute thing, which feels like it’s going to be much more pertinent as time goes on. The duration of shows I imagine will vary much more as the YouTube generation become the main audience. So it felt nice to be at the basement of that. And I hadn’t worked with Ros (Pike) and have been enjoying her work from afar for a few years, and I liked the idea that people could believably think that I was in a relationship with her. And I’d worked with Stephen Frears before and enjoyed his company, so it was a pretty easy one to take on, really, in that regard.
Q: Were you able to shoot each 10-minute episode in one take?
A: We did takes of the whole thing every morning, and then we kind of moved the camera around just to make it look fun, I suppose. But we could have done the whole season in a day, really. … We shot an episode a day, so we would kind of do 10 or 12 pages, which is a lot really for a TV show, and then the next day we’d shoot the next episode. And we shot in order, which was useful. … I think we shot the whole thing in 12 days.
Q: What are the challenges of doing a two-person act like that?
A: Well, the challenge is that one of you gets it wrong and then you’re in trouble. But what we would do every night, we would shoot the whole day and then we would sit at that same pub in the beer garden with a glass of wine and learn the lines for the next day, and we just kept doing that.