The AV Clubs latest installment of Random Roles — where they ask an actor about his or her various roles over the course of their career — features The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford, and it is sublime. If you care one iota about Whitford, you should read it in its entirety because it is hilarious and full of so many great stories.
I picked the Matt Perry one mostly because I thought it’d get more clicks, which would send more people to read the piece, but it’s honestly just one of a dozen great moments in the interview, in which Whitford explains how he landed the West Wing (believe it or not, it was because of Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise), talks about his early career playing only assholes, and waxes poetic on Allison Janney and Rip Torn.
It’s great. This story, about directing Matthew Perry in an episode of West Wing, is the perfect example of why (and do try and read it in the voice of Josh Lyman):
I love working with Matt [Perry]. Matt is truly one of the funniest people on the planet, and we had so much fun. I’ve been very lucky to have worked as much as I have …
But there’s one memory I have of Matt and I. Often guest directors come in, and as an actor, it’s kind of a pet peeve where you’ve got, like, a hundred people staring at you, holding lights and mikes at you, and these guest directors will come in and they’ll go, “Okay, are we rolling? Okay, we’re rolling. Guys, are you ready? Okay, and… Hey, Brad, quit pushing for the joke. You don’t need to do that. Action!” Like, a totally humiliating, devastating note, and then, “Action!” [Laughs.] And Matt had mentioned how he hated that, too, so when I was directing him, I’d be, like, “Okay, guys, quiet! We got it? Okay, and… There is no happiness, the reward is death. Action!” Or, “Guys, are we quiet? Quiet, guys! Okay, and… Matt, you peaked 10 years ago. Action!” So, yeah, that was a fun day.
Brilliant. For more on stories about working on The Good Guys, Trophy Wife or Brooklyn 99, read the full interview over at the AV Club.