Talking to Judy Greer and Nat Faxon, a Match Made in ‘Married’ Heaven
Right now, I’m at the age where all of my friends are either getting married or having babies. I know, right? GROSS. Except I’m guilty of it, too. We’re all happy now, but who the hell knows what the future holds for us. That’s what FX’s new show, Married, premiering tonight at 10 p.m., is all about: the deep throes of messy love and commitment that is spending the rest of your life with someone who used to be a complete stranger. Viewers are dropped into the marriage of Russ (Nat Faxon) and Lina (Judy Greer)—they’ve been together for some time and even have three daughters. They deal with the regular family/money/sex/love/etc. problems, but in a funnier way. Plus, there’s a whole lot of Jenny Slate, which is always a good thing.
I had the opportunity to chat with Greer and Faxon on a press junket phone call. Hearing their banter and dynamic on the phone call, and seeing it on the show, you get the sense that they’d work as an actual married couple, or at least super close BFFs. Here’s what came up:
On what marriage means
Judy Greer: Marriage means that it’s super, super hard to break up. Right?
Nat Faxon: True, it does make that harder.
Greer: Yes, it’s just way harder if you want to break up. It is also, I think—gosh, I like it a lot. I’m super into it, but I’m only two and a half years in.
Faxon: Yeah, just wait.
Greer: My kids are older and they’re stepkids. I like in the pilot episode that she’s like. ‘I don’t want a divorce.’ She wants to be married. She wants to be with this guy forever. What do you think it means to them, Nat?
Faxon: I think it means a partnership. I think their life is consumed by their kids, and their schedules, and pretty much everything that goes into that. What’s missing and what’s important to keep track of, both on the show and in life, is a sense of connection. These two characters right now are sort of misfiring a bit, and I think that’s representative of what marriage is in a sense, that it’s work. It’s a lot of work. It’s spending your entire life with somebody and raising kids and having to make decisions together. You endure the full spectrum of emotions, as far as being friends and in love and having the time of your lives, mixed with really difficult times where you don’t see eye to eye and you can’t get along and you have to work and fight for staying together. It is exactly what you said. It does make it difficult to break up, and therefore it’s about commitment and all that comes with it.
On improving on set
Faxon: We did quite a bit of improv on set, just because I think it was welcomed. Sometimes, we found some fun stuff that wasn’t on the page, but we were also working with a pretty fantastic blueprint, as far as the scripts. They were in really good shape so it wasn’t totally necessary. It was really more just kind of garnish on top of what was already a great meal, if I’m going to stick with the metaphor.
Greer: I never stick with a metaphor. You’re better for it. As far as knowing what ended up in the episodes, I can’t answer that yet because I haven’t seen them all. That’ll be fun to see what they picked out of all of the nonsense that we would do every day.
On what’s harder: surviving a modern marriage or establishing an intelligent primate civilization, referring to Greer’s role as Cornelia, wife to Ceasar, in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Greer: I’m going to go with modern marriage. I feel like with Caesar in charge, the primates were good to go. They didn’t really need a ton of extra help because he’s such a great leader and such a great ape. As far as two people being married and being broke and having three kids, I think that’s way harder to deal with.
Faxon: I guess, unless you’re Caesar, then it’s not that hard.
Greer: But Caesar’s followers knew what to do because he would tell them and he took care of them. I need a Caesar in our show is what I’m saying. You’re notCaesar.
Faxon: We do. We need Caesar. Season Two.
On working with Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman, and John Hodgman
Faxon: It was a blast working with them. I had actually never worked with Jenny, Brett or John in any capacity, so I was going in completely unaware of their comedic abilities and soon was made aware as we started working together. I feel like this is very much about marriage and the struggles that Judy and I go through as a couple, but it’s also very much an ensemble.
I think the story lines that both Brett and Jenny endure throughout the seasons are a major part of the show. For Brett’s character, he’s reeling from a divorce and turning to an unhealthy lifestyle, as a way to sort of cope and it’s really tragic in a sense. It’s very funny but also very sad, and I think that is in line with the tone of this show and what was so attractive to me about it.
And as far as Jenny’s character, it’s the same sort of thing. She’s in a marriage to a much older man. I shouldn’t say much older but older by ten years or so. I think they are kind of on different wavelengths essentially as far as where they are in their lives and kind of what they want, and it’s a struggle for them. Again, I think we’re all sort of dealing with different aspects of marriage/divorce, and the tone of being sad but yet identifiable and funny is, I think, something that ties all those storylines together.
On the similarities between themselves and their characters
Greer: I feel like Lina is way more of a loner than I am. She doesn’t really need much outside of her family, and that is a way that I am different but a way that I also admire her and wish I was more like that. I also like how cranky Lina is, although I’m pretty cranky.
Faxon: I’m exactly like my character so it’s pretty easy. I am married. I have three children. I guess I have a little bit more financial stability probably than Russ does at this very moment in time, but I would say I’m similar. I also tell my wife that I’m going to work and then I go surfing and then get in trouble for it later. There’s nothing like having a lot of children and being married and going through that.
On the golden age of television and what they watch
Greer: There’s just so much content now with all of the different cable channels and people recognizing TV as being as cool as feature films. Before, I think there was a real line, you do TV, or you do movies, and now it’s all the same. There are a lot of TV shows that are better than a lot of the movies being made. What do I watch? I like Louie and Archer but that’s duh, I’m on it, but I also would watch it if wasn’t because it’s really funny. I like Mad Men and Downton Abbey. What do you watch, Nat? You probably don’t watch TV because you have three kids.
Faxon: I just had to laugh because Judy and I were on a plane back from New York and Judy said, “Oh, I’m going to watch Downton Abbey. I’ve never seen it. So she burned through a couple of episodes. She was sitting in front of me and I was sitting behind her. I went to go to the bathroom, and then I came back, and she was in a full, ugly cry, just weeping.
Greer: I’m so obsessed. Every time my husband’s like, ‘I want to do a thing tonight,’ I’m like, ‘Great,’ because he won’t watch it with me.
Faxon: Sorry, going back to the question. I do feel like it’s a golden age of television. There are more risks being taken and there are the most flawed and wonderfully dark characters. Those are the things that are attractive to actors, really being able to get into something, these fatally flawed people that have so many problems and issues and yet are very much representative of what kind of exists in society. Those elements are very enticing to actors, and that’s why so many people are going into TV and doing these projects, just because the material is more interesting and more available. As far as shows that I watch, I would say probably all the same things that Judy watches. I’ve been watching a lot of Masters of Sex recently…
Greer: That’s on Showtime, I need to get that.
Faxon: Yes. It will make you maybe horny though, Judy, so be wary.
Greer: Nevermind, nevermind, I’m not getting it. I’m not going to get Showtime.
Nadia Chaudhury wants to be married to Jenny Slate.