Monday, March 12, 2012

Interview: Mark Deklin Shakes Things Up on GCB

(ABC/RICHARD FOREMAN) MIRIAM SHOR, MARK DEKLIN
Touted as “Dallas” meets “Desperate Housewives” meets awesome, ABC’s newest nighttime drama, “GCB,” is kickin’ butt and taking names. This deliciously fun, wicked new drama shows that you can go home again … but only if you’re ready to face the sins of your past. Former mean girl Amanda Vaughn (Leslie Bibb) returns home to her mom (Annie Potts) in Dallas after her marriage ends in scandal. There Amanda must face all her former friends who she tormented as the Queen Bee in high school. Amanda has turned over a new leaf, but most of her “friends” are stuck in the past. I spoke with series star Mark Deklin, who plays Amanda’s high-school boyfriend Blake Reilly, who’s also husband to one of the girls Amanda tormented all those years ago.

Celebrity Extra: While “GCB” is being compared with other popular nighttime soaps, for me, I feel it is quite original and a blast to watch.

Mark Deklin: Thanks for the compliment. I think it is very different. At first glance, most people’s impression is, “Oh, this is basically going to be like ‘Desperate Housewives’ in the South.” I had this sort of attitude of like: “Oh, I know what this is. I’ve got this whole thing figured out.” But as I read the script, I realized it was very smart and had a unique voice to it. More than anything, I think that voice was (executive producer) Bobby Harling. You hear that voice in his movies, like “Steel Magnolias,” “First Wives Club” and “Soap Dish.” When I had my first meeting with (executive producer) Darren Star, I began to realize that we had the opportunity to do something really cool here and something that isn’t already on TV.

CE: I love the layers of your character: He is kind, compassionate, a husband and father, and he’s secretly gay. He must be very interesting for you to play.

MD: The first thing is, as an actor, you are always looking for characters who have layers. Right off the bat, he’s got layers built in. But then the other thing that was really cool was I don’t know anybody who’s in the closet. I have hundreds of gay friends, but they’re all out, so when I first came on board, I was talking to the creative team, and I said, “Help me with this, because I don’t have a template to work from.” The thing about Blake is that he’s not tortured. This is the choice he’s made. This is the arrangement that he and his wife have. They both know what’s going on, and they’re both cool with it.

CE: And it’s a win/win for Blake and his wife, Cricket, because they both get what they need out of the relationship. Does this continue throughout the season?

MD: I don’t want to give too much away, but as the season goes on, we explore the dynamic of our marriage and how it works. What are the rules? There are certain guidelines. Being with someone else sexually is not seen as a betrayal in that marriage, but having a best friend outside the marriage is a betrayal. Or falling in love with somebody else outside the marriage is a betrayal. There are guidelines.

CE: What do you hope viewers take away from the show?

MD: My hope is that people will watch and that the show will meet their expectations. And as the show unfolds, I hope they’ll say: “This show is more than I expected. It is actually very smart and very funny.” I know some people are offended by the title “Good Christian Bitches,” thinking this is an attack on religion. But I think one of the things people will find is that it absolutely is NOT an attack on religion. It is a lighthearted jab at hypocrisy within a particular religious context, but the show is actually very respectful of religion. They are respectful of the teachings of Christ. What’s being made fun of is these people who engage in very un-Christ-like behavior and call themselves Christians. I think we’ve all created a really tangible and palpable world, and I think and I hope that that’s what comes across.

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