For the past three decades, Andrew McCarthy has been acting in many mediums. But for many of us 80’s children, he is best known for his roles in Pretty In Pink, Less Than Zero, Mannequin, and St. Elmo’s Fire.
His latest effort is playing the villain, Vincent Adler, who was also Neal Caffrey’s mentor, on White Collar. I had the utmost joy to speak with Andrew during a conference call recently.
Since there’s no new episode of the show on tonight, please read on and enjoy my interview for your White Collar fix.
The Two Cents: How did you get involved with White Collar?
Andrew McCarthy: That was pretty easy. They just called up and asked if I would like to jump in and I thought the part was fun. I’d seen the show. I like the show. I thought it was good fun and elegantly shot. Yes, it was pretty simple. They just called and asked if I wanted to jump in and I thought it was nice, a nice part, so I did.
TTC: What was the most challenging part of playing this character?
AM: Yes, that I was the old mentor. I’m suddenly the old mentor and I’m like, huh, I used to play your part it seemed like five years ago and now I’m the old mentor. You know I hate to say this, but it fit me like a glove this sort of part. I eventually turned into being a bit of a bad guy as it were. But, you try and find some things that are charming and likable about these people. I didn’t find anything hard about them. I thought it was just good fun and well written.
TTC: So many guys like Adler have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Can you talk about who or what you used as reference to understand the character?
AM: Yes, just the headlines of the Post are all you need, like you said. I just think greed is a pretty universal concept and people want power. Everybody wants power and wants to be in control. People feel justified in doing—you can justify things. All of us can. And people like this are funny because they know that sociopathic quality where the rules that apply to you don’t apply to me, and there’s great freedom in that. I know people like that in my life and we’ve all read about them time and again and it’s sort of, we’re shocked by it. But it’s not that far from who we are.
They’re just doing things that we don’t do because we have a bit of conscience, and it’s not that much. It’s one or two little decisions and then that leads to another few that’s little decisions and then that leads to another few more. And suddenly you’re way down the road. But I don’t ever think these people are that far from who we are.
I was walking down the street the other day and some guy was mumbling to himself and screaming in the middle of the street, walking down the street. And I’m like this guy is crazy. And then I realized I just been talking to myself walking down the street. It wasn’t that far from who I was, just a few bad choices and there you are. I think it’s similar, but especially in power, power gets to people and all that. It’s too much of an aphrodisiac.
TTC: What are the main differences between doing a movie role and a TV role from your viewpoint?
AM: TV is faster, period, and sometimes that’s a good thing. TV usually uses two cameras, so you will do, you can often do, which is from an acting point of view, great, because you can do the over the shoulder and the close-up at the same time. So you don’t go, ah, I was better when we were maybe over the shoulder and the close-up is not as good. So it’s faster from just with your time because in TV you have to shoot eight pages a day. On movies, you can shoot from anywhere from two to four or five, depending on the budget.
I have to say, personally, I like just run and go, let’s shoot. I enjoy the TV pace, like you’re always under the clock, but that’s not the actor’s problem. It’s a director’s problem. So there’s no real difference. The acting is the acting, and certain aspects of it, sometimes in TV, you have to shoot more standard obvious coverage.
Okay, now we have to do the master and over the shoulder. Now we have to get the close-up where in movies, you don’t have to do that sometimes. You can just leave it in one. Whereas in television, you’re very rarely allowed just do one wide take. You have to cut to the close-up in television. It’s just the way, the nature of the beast. So sometimes the imagination of shots that you’re allowed in film I miss sometimes.
But White Collar has a really interesting visual look. And that’s one of the few shows that go really, really wide. And they shoot New York sort of in all its glory and the camera is usually low and always moving. And so it has a real dynamic. And that’s one of the things I liked about the show that I wanted to be involved with because I thought it didn’t just punch to the close-up, you know.
Very rarely do they go to the close-up. In fact, when they do, it means something. It’s like a movie in that way. So they have a very spacious, sort of ethic look about it, which I think is really interesting and unique for television. I liked that, but the acting is the same, you’re acting.
TTC: How long is your arc going to last? How many episodes are you going to be on?
AM: There’s no telling.
My Two Cents: This was one of my favorite interviews. I am a huge Andrew McCarthy fan and can’t wait to see more of him. I’ll see you all back here next week for a new episode of White Collar. In the meantime, please leave your comments below or send me an email.
Anne – Associate Editor