Joshua Malina's 'Leap' To Experimentation

The Insider

I first met Joshua Malina, an actor I came to adore thanks to his role on Aaron Sorkin's still-genius 1998 series Sports Night, for an interview in support of his wickedly warped 2010 webseries, Backwash. So it's only appropriate that our second chat also be in support of a webseries I adore, Leap Year.

Josh is the third amazing actor I've profiled to cameo on the tech savvy series this season, and one equally enamored of the cast and crew that have ushered Leap Year to the small screen. And while Josh will be spending most of 2012 working on a slightly larger screen now that he's been upped to series regular on ABC's addictive Scandal, he eventually hopes to return to the world wide web since it's creativity's ultimate playground! Both Eliza Dushku and Emma Caulfield told me they got involved with Leap Year through co-star/producer Wilson Cleveland. Same for you?
Joshua Malina: True. Sort of. Wilson is one of those nexus people that everyone knows but you can't quite remember how you know [laughs]. He's a real entrepreneur and helped bring me in, but I love Yuri and Vlad Baranovsky [Leap Year co-writers] they're real go-getters and great writers.

RELATED - Eliza Dushku's Bold Leap Online What is it that you enjoy about the wild world of webseries?
Joshua: Exactly that. I still chuckle to myself when I see Backwash and think that someone gave us money to do that [laughs]. The online world has its pros and cons, like everything else, but one of the huge pros is that it’s an experimental outlet where you can do a whole host of crazy sh*t to see what works. TV is not the most experimental playground, but the web really is.

RELATED - Emma Caulfield Builds An Online Empire Your friends really rallied around you to help make Backwash a reality, do you know feel the desire to help others get their videos out there?
Joshua: For sure. Although I wouldn't characterize my involvement as "helping them out," per se. I don't want to make myself sound altruistic when I did this because it sounded fun – and it was. Plus, these are people I could see myself making content with in the future. These guys have figured out a way to successfully do this. I mean, with Backwash, it felt a little bit like "If you make a webseries and no one watches it, have you made a webseries?" My hat is off to Yuri, Vlad and Wilson because they've made a webseries that people are watching. How do you describe your character, Sam Berry?
Joshua: He's definitely a sharp guy, sharp mind, brilliant salesman. One of those people where you're not sure if he's everything that meets the eye or has a bit of a side game going on. There's something charismatic about him, but part of you wants to keep a little distance from him as you watch what he gets up to. Same could be said of your Scandal character, David Rosen since we learned very little about him in season one. Coming into season two, as a full-time series regular, are you excited to learn more about him?
Joshua: I'm very psyched to be a part of that team. The experience of doing season one, episode by episode, I would not only discover more about each character, but more about what this show really was. Almost every time I read a script, I kept saying, "Oh, we're the kind of show that does that?!?" When I first signed on, I thought I was doing a procedural, but by episode two, I realized how wrong I was. There might be a case every week, but that's not it at all. There's definitely a larger story arc they are serving that I find very interesting. Then Shonda [Rhimes, creator] started bringing in the backstories, like superhero origins, and I was very impressed. Having said that network TV is not the most experimental, I feel like she is taking risks. The show is not necessarily what you expected it to be – even for the actors.

RELATED - Kerry Washington Talks Scandal Season Two! Do you know more than the audience about David, or are you in the dark as well?
Joshua: The candid and completely answer is I know nothing more than the audience does. She has a very Sorkin way of working. Aaron would not come up to you and say, "Here's what's coming up for your character." You just get a script and act the sh*t out of it. He doesn't want you to think about your backstory or where your character is headed, because you won't get those answers. Some actors aren't cool with that, but I love it. Plus, getting every script becomes that much more exciting for me. Having worked with both, whose dialogue is harder to master: Shonda's or Aaron's?
Joshua: I always think, counter-intuitively, that good dialogue is always less tricky. It's when I'm doing crappy TV, which I have done occasionally, that I find myself unable to remember my lines. Shonda's stuff and Aaron's stuff just makes sense. Obviously you have to spend time with it, but it stays in your head because it's well-written, well-constructed and memorable.

For more on Leap Year, click here!

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