Does Damages' Joe Tobin Have a Moral Compass?
Campbell Scott, Damages
Campbell Scott isn't a familiar face to the average TV viewer.
Sure, he's the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, and he's been a working actor since 1986. But other than some brief appearances on recent TV series (Six Degrees, Royal Pains) and some big Hollywood films in the early '90s (Singles), Campbell Scott has preferred to work in theater and independent films (Roger Dodger).
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So how did he end up going mainstream with FX's twisty legal thriller Damages? "I knew nothing about it — how embarrassing?" Scott tells TVGuide.com. "But when the guys started talking about it, my wife and I watched the first season and we just flipped. It really seemed like a 13-epsiode movie to me. It seemed to be really well-written and beautifully performed. I thought, 'That's the kind of television you want to be involved with.'"
And then there is the chance for Scott to play something new. As Joe Tobin, the troubled son of a man who's pulled off the largest Ponzi scheme in history, Scott says he relishes playing a guy who doesn't have all the answers.
"What's fascinating about him is that he's weak," Scott says. "I don't often play that, and it hardly ever gets written in an accurate way. And by weak, I mean he's someone who doesn't really have some sort of a structure that keeps him on one path. ... He starts off as a relatively unknowing and innocent character, but because of his relationships and because of his desires, he becomes something else. I like that his moral structure seems to vacillate wildly with each show."
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Indeed, in last week's episode, a drunk Joe tried to cover up accidentally running over his father's mistress, Danielle (Madchen Amick), who also had been subpoenaed by Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) to answer questions about the fraud. To cover his tracks, Joe decides to put Danielle on a plane, knowing that the bleeding in her brain would kill her before the plane lands.
"I think the cool thing and the scary thing about Joe is that we don't know how far he's willing to go," the 48-year-old Scott says. "He's unwilling to just be the evil guy and be greedy outright. But at the same time, his behavior is obviously reprehensible if not criminal.
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"It's not that he's completely without a moral compass," Scott continues. "It's just that his is like the compasses in those planes as they go over the Bermuda triangle: [It's] just spinning."
Damages co-creator and executive producer Todd Kessler, however, says Monday's episode (10/9c on FX) may turn everything we've already seen on its ear. "As is typical with Damages, things really start heating up at this point," he says. "It's a big Joe and Louis Tobin [Len Cariou] episode, and I think there is a big bomb dropped. There's something that happens that is irreversible and will absolutely shift the focus of the story moving forward."
"It changes Joe's whole take on how he's supposed to operate with this whole crowd," Scott elaborates. "He's going to look at his drinking and he's going to start looking at his relationship with his mom and his dad with a different way. ... It appears that Joe has not been a very heady or influential member of the business or the family. But they all seem to care for him. So we will see if he's going to rise to the occasion."
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Meanwhile, the show's other big mystery — the death of Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan) — remains somewhat separate from Tobin's family issues. Scott, who still has four episodes to shoot, says he's worked very little with Donovan, Close, and Rose Byrne. But Scott awaits the big payoff.
"We can all feel that it's all going to crash together soon. And it has to," Scott says. "The stakes are so high in [Patty, Ellen and Tom's] professional careers, that when they start to join forces to figure out what to do about the Tobins — all hell breaks loose among the three of them."