Michael Urie loves Marc St. James, the dressed-to-kill mean guy he plays on Ugly Betty. This season, though, Urie says that Marc's evil ways are somewhat justified. In the Season 3 finale, Marc lost a coveted editor's position to Betty, and while he still worships Wilhelmina, he's no longer enthralled with being her assistant. TVGuide.com spoke with Urie about how Marc copes with his disappointments, when he'll figure out Willy's dark secret and who plays his hookup in the Bahamas episode. (Hint: It's not Shakira.)
TVGuide.com: Marc was in a pretty bad place at the end of the season.
Michael Urie: Yeah, he's back behind Wilhelmina's desk again, so he's conflicted and angry. And he's definitely got a beef with Betty. He didn't realize how prepared he was to be an editor, and now that he's back as an assistant, it's not what he wants — which is weird because he's [done it] for five years, and he has loved it. But once you sit in first class, it's hard to go back to coach.
TVGuide.com: Is he going to hold it against Willy? I mean, she kind of got him into this mess.
Urie: He doesn't know that he lost the job in a coin toss, so he doesn't blame Willy; he blames Betty entirely. Marc thinks that Daniel's vote trumped Wilhelmina's vote because he's a Meade and it's Meade Publications. As far as he knows, Willy gave him the job and then Daniel came along and gave it to Betty. [Marc thinks] he lost it out of favoritism, which infuriates him, and Betty thinks she got it because she's the best person for the job. They're both wrong.
TVGuide.com: So will he try to fix things?
Urie: He's trying, little by little, to bring down Betty. Marc is hoping that she fails. He's sort of trying to make it happen so he'll be in line for her job. It's fun. We've gone back and forth with Betty and Marc's relationship: They've been good with each other; they've been bad with each other; they've hated each other; they've begrudgingly loved each other. And now she really is standing in his way. As we've seen over the course of the entire series, in Marc's eyes she is not qualified to be an editor at a fashion magazine.
TVGuide.com: What else will Marc be up to this season?
Urie: Well, Willy is back to her old schemes, but she's also got a major secret. Marc finds out a little bit, but he's basically in the dark. But then he finds out more. This is Marc's inner conflict. Where he would normally break any rule and sniff any trash looking for dirt for Wilhelmina, now that's harder for him to do. He doesn't want to scheme and break the law anymore; he wants to work on fashion, so where now Willy has major legal problems, Marc is hesitant to help.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of the clothes you wear on the show?
Urie: I think they're hilarious. It's such a boon to an actor to get a laugh before you say anything. So often I just appear and it's funny because of what I'm wearing. There's a story about a theater actor who, every time he would make an entrance, he would bang on the wall backstage so the audience would be looking [at him] when he entered. I kind of feel like that's what Marc's wardrobe is.
TVGuide.com: I've heard you say that the clothes on the show aren't really your style.
Urie: Yeah, I mean, right now I'm wearing Uggs, dirty jeans and a coat that I bought at JCPenney. It's funny: Everyone gets so excited about Halloween, but it's pretty boring for me because every day [on Ugly Betty] is like Halloween — without the candy.
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TVGuide.com: What does Marc think of Amanda's newfound ambition?
Urie: I think he's really surprised and impressed by it. He's going to be a great catalyst in helping her to find her full potential. I hope we continue to explore that, because they can definitely help each other to grow and build and not just be an assistant and a receptionist forever.
TVGuide.com: So he's not competitive or jealous?
Urie: Not with her, no. It's all about Betty — she's the one who showed up later and rose faster, and Amanda is in a different league. They're best friends; he supports her.
TVGuide.com: The fans really liked Marc with Cliff. Any chance you'll get David Blue [who left to join the cast of Syfy's Stargate Universe] back on the show?
Urie: He would have to jump through his stargate and come back to the world of Ugly Betty. There was talk of him showing up this season, but I think he couldn't come because he was busy with his new series. I get that too on Twitter; they just love Marc and Cliff together. I think it was a really sweet story line. David's a great actor and a great guy, and it would be fun to have him around again because Cliff throws Marc for a loop, takes him out of his comfort zone, which is such a great, interesting side [of the character].
TVGuide.com: So I hear Marc has both a romance and a bromance in the Bahamas episode.
Urie: Yes, for the first time ever, Marc and Daniel have a bit of a bonding experience. I've always thought this show has been good at pairing up odd couples, and they've never put Marc and Daniel together, so it's very fun, and hilarity, indeed, ensues. We're looking for meaningless Bahama hookups. I help him find one, and he helps me find one.
TVGuide.com: And your hookup is played by Becki Newton's brother, Matt Newton, right?
Urie: Yes. [He doesn't play] Amanda's brother, but I think that it's funny, in the world of Ugly Betty, that the man that Marc ends up with is the male version of Amanda. Matt and Becki resemble each other, and they're both the same size, attractive, adorable and funny.
TVGuide.com: Marc isn't part of the love triangle that we keep hearing about, is he?
Urie: No. Though he is involved, he's not one of the three. He's a pot-stirrer, so he helps to facilitate and encourage certain things.
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TVGuide.com: What does Marc really think of Betty?
Urie: I think he respects her. He might not show it. But Betty makes him a better employee, and he makes her a better employee too. She keeps him on his toes. He has to work hard because she'll make him look bad if he doesn't. In a lot of ways, Betty and Marc are like Daniel and Wilhelmina. They can do a good job, but they have completely different methods.
TVGuide.com: So is Marc more like Wilhelmina than Daniel?
Urie: Yeah, probably, but that's just because of how he learned. I think Marc is less devious than Wilhelmina, but he will go the route of cruelty and cattiness. Neither Daniel nor Betty comes from the world of fashion; they just ended up there. And both Marc and Wilhelmina are from that superficial world.
TVGuide.com: What will Marc make of Betty's new look?
Urie: They've cleverly made this new look be just enough for Betty to have grown up a little bit, but she's still Betty. There are still going to be things to make fun of. And regardless of what she's wearing, Marc will always make fun of her weight and her ethnicity. She could wear Chanel every day and he'd still make fun of her.
TVGuide.com: Where would you like to see Marc end up at the end of the series?
Urie: With a spin-off. [Laughs] I think Marc will have a really nice position at Mode and he'll be really happy there. And he'll probably share an office with Amanda somehow and they'll have their wonderful, catty ways. Because I see Betty eventually being the editor of The New Yorker or something like that, but I could easily see Marc with a cush job at Mode.
The new season of Ugly Betty airs Fridays at 9/8c on ABC. Catch encore airings Thursdays at 7/6c on TV Guide Network.