Judy Greer and Nat Faxon Team Up to Talk About ‘Married’

Judy Greer and Nat Faxon Married Interview
Nat Faxon as Russ and Judy Greer as Lina in ‘Married’ (Photo by Prashant Gupta/FX
Copyright 2014, FX Networks. All rights reserved.)

The new FX half-hour comedy series Married debuts at 10pm ET/PT on July 17, 2014 with Nat Faxon and Judy Greer as the married couple at the center of the story. Married isn’t your typical relationship comedy as it explores topics that most networks wouldn’t touch (the first episode has hubby Ross looking for a possible mistress after he thinks he’s gotten the go-ahead from his wife to seek sex elsewhere). Faxon and Greer have great chemistry as a married couple with young kids, a mortgage, and a declining sex life, and teaming up for a conference call to discuss the new series, they chatted about their characters, the comedy, and married life.

Nat Faxon and Judy Greer Married Interview

Can you both talk about how you got started in the project?

Nat Faxon: “Sure. I met with Andrew Gurland, the creator of the show. I don’t even remember when – a while back – and we had a really nice lunch and sort of got to know each other. I think initially you’re just sort of picking up on each other’s vibe, and beyond just the material and the show I think you’re wondering whether you’re going to be spending a lot of intense time together and whether you’re going to be excited for that or dreading that. Luckily with Andrew it was excitement, and the next step for me was to audition. I am not at the mega superstar level that Judy Greer is so I had to audition for the part. And then it worked out and then Judy came aboard after that knowing that she had this eye candy to star with.”

Judy Greer: “That’s totally true. Nat was already attached to the project and once I read the script, had my lunch with Andrew, knew that I could stand to be in the same room with him all day every day for many months, yes, then I decided definitely I had to be in it.”

What do you think makes Married fit with the FX brand, or do you even think about that?

Judy Greer: “I’ve definitely thought about that. The fact that this show was going to be on FX was one of the main reasons I wanted to do it, and I think it does fit with the brand. I think it’s a little raw. It’s actually pretty raw. It’s very edgy and funny, and it doesn’t really seem to get all tied up with a nice pretty bow at the end of every episode, which I really like.”

How much input did you have in the development of your characters and how much improv makes it to the final cut?

Nat Faxon: “I would say that Andrew Gurland, our creator, was extremely collaborative and welcoming to any conversations about the characters, any additions, anything that we felt was important to add. Obviously he had done a ton of work on developing this show and certainly a lot of this stuff was biographical to a certain extent. I think he had a wealth of knowledge from which to pull from, and I think Judy and I being married ourselves too as well, it was very open, fluid conversations between all three of us as far as the direction we were excited to go, to take the characters in.

And as far as improvisation, I would say we did quite a bit of improv on set just because I think it was, like I said, welcomed. And, also, 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.”

Judy Greer: “I never stick with a metaphor. You’re better for it. I think 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. I’m excited about that, and I felt like our improvs were always based on what was already on the page.”

Is there any subject matter that you guys feel is kind of off limits or is everything fair game? Is there a particular script you read where you were wondering how you’d even be able to play it?

Judy Greer: “I don’t remember there being anything off limits. Do you, Nat?”

Nat Faxon: “No, I don’t at all. I think you kind of know what you’re getting into and what you’re signing up for, and certainly being on FX and on cable you certainly can get away with more than you can on network TV. I think the sort of darkness and the risks were exciting to us. I don’t think there was anything that was over the line or felt too far, in terms of the stuff we did. I think we sort of knew that going in and that was kind of part of the allure in a sense, to sort of go down sort of a darker alley.”

Judy, since you were part of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, what do you think is harder: surviving a modern marriage or establishing an intelligent primate civilization?

Judy Greer: “Good question. 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.”

Nat Faxon: “I guess unless you’re Caesar, then it’s not that hard.”

Judy 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 not Caesar.”

Nat Faxon: “We do. We need Caesar. Season Two.”

Nat, can you talk a little bit about working with Jenny Slate, Brett Gelman and John Hodgman? What kind of support do they give you and what’s ahead for their characters?

Nat 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 storylines that both Brett and Jenny endure throughout the seasons are a major part of the show. For Brett’s character, he’s sort of reeling from a divorce and kind of 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 inline 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 10 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.”

What are the similarities between your characters on the show and yourselves in real life?

Judy Greer: “Well, 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. I think in that way we’re similar. I don’t know, Nat, do you have a couple?”

Nat Faxon: “No, 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 so we are very similar I would say. There’s nothing like having a lot of children and being married and going through that. I can’t say there are a lot of differences between us.”

What does marriage and being married mean to you in the context of the show and then in your own personal lives?

Judy Greer: “Marriage means that it’s super, super hard to breakup. Right?”

Nat Faxon: “True, it does make that harder.”

Judy Greer: “Yes, like it’s just way harder if you want to break up. Gosh, I like it a lot. I’m super into it, but I’m only two and a half years in. 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?”

Nat Faxon: “I think it means a partnership. I think what it means on the show and what it means in life is kind of parallel. I think they go hand in hand in a way because for Russ and Lina, I think their life is sort of consumed by their kids and their schedules and pretty much everything that goes into that. What’s sort of missing and what’s important to keep track of, both on the show and in life, is a sense of connection. I think 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 kind of about commitment and all that comes with it.”

Based on your writing experience, do you have any type of role in the Married writers’ room or have the writers been looking to you for input yet?

Nat Faxon: “I will say I didn’t this season, but not because it wasn’t welcomed. Andrew was extremely open to my contribution, however much I wanted to give. I was sort of busy with working with Jim Rash, my writing partner, on some other projects. Also I just sort of wanted to get that character of Russ sort of in gear before I took on for more responsibilities. There was certainly an open invitation to do so. I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind as well as available to do it. Maybe in upcoming seasons, cross our fingers that there are, that can happen. But I stayed out of the way for the most part, and I’m glad I did because I felt like the scripts were really, really good. I was in complete trust of everything that was coming out. I didn’t feel like I needed to meddle in it and mess it all up.”

-By Rebecca Murray

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