Tate Donovan, <EM>Damages</EM> Tate Donovan, Damages

This week on FX's dark 'n' twisty Damages (Tuesdays at 10 pm/ET), Tom and Ellen (perhaps ill-advisedly) decide to hide something from boss lady Patty Hewes, who they fear is manipulating them. (Patty pulling people's strings not at all unlike a cruel puppeteer? You think?) TVGuide.com spent a few minutes with series star Tate Donovan to speculate on Tom's ultimate fate, as well as try (once again) for some scoop on the Season 2 game plan.

TVGuide.com: I love this show, man. Are you hearing that a lot from people?
Tate Donovan:
I am, you know, and it's exciting. When I was on The O.C., I heard only from, like, kids — "Oh my god, you're Jimmy Cooper! I love that show!!" — so it's really nice to hear from very intelligent adults who are like, "I find your show fascinating.... "

TVGuide.com: A few weeks ago at the end of the Tom-centric episode, I would have liked to see him return to work and find his name on the door regardless of what Patty said she wouldn't agree to.
[Laughs] That would have been great! My mother would have been very happy with that as well.

TVGuide.com: But I guess they needed to keep us feeling that Patty is this dragon lady. You weren't on much the episode after that, but how is it looking for you this week?
I get more involved in the "six months ahead" stuff, with Ellen in jail.

TVGuide.com: That's good to know, that Tom is alive in the present day.
I know, exactly!

TVGuide.com: One of the show's strengths is how it takes turns with the focus. One week it's Tom, another it's Ellen's fiancé, or Frobisher....
Yeah, I think they're trying to establish the characters as well as service the plot.

TVGuide.com: What do we know about Tom outside of him having a daughter? I forget, is he divorced, married...?
He's married; there were a couple of scenes with him and his wife. It's a happy marriage, I think.

TVGuide.com: The show really keeps you guessing, even about peripheral characters. Like Tom's prospective new employer — they had us wondering if maybe Patty was behind him offering Tom the job.
I know, what's wonderful is they have established a lot of characters who are capable of anything. That sets your imagination on fire. Once you see that anyone can sort of do anything, that everyone is capable of lying, there are no set good guys and bad guys, everything is a possibility. It must be difficult for the writers to bring it to a conclusion: "Gee, we have so many possibilities. Which way do we go?"

TVGuide.com: Was it a concern of yours at all that Tom, as Patty so nicely put it, "is a No. 2, and that's all he ever will be"? Or is his arc more about growth?
I think it's a really unique and interesting character because he's never going to be No. 1, and that's an interesting place for a man to be. We're all sort of used to "the great woman behind the man," the supportive woman who takes care of the star politician or athlete. When we first sat down to talk about the role, I said, "This may sound a bit weird to you guys, but it seems to me that Tom is sort of like Patty's wife," and there's a certain amount of power in that. Tom is the type of person who is much happier facilitating and being behind the scenes.

TVGuide.com: So despite his protests, he knew he was a No. 2.
That's why he goes back — "Damn it, she's right." That's very difficult for a male ego to accept, and though his friend pumped him up, it's big of Tom to realize that and accept that about himself and find power in that. Rather than be like, "I've got to be No. 1," it's sort of like, "Patty Hewes is a genius lawyer and she's going to be better than me at a lot of things, so I'm going to be second chair to Patty — and that's not a bad thing."

TVGuide.com: I have to believe that you and Glenn Close have a lot of fun on the set.
We do. We do. Everyone is like, "Aren't you totally petrified of Patty Hewes?" and I'm like, "You have no idea." She's so much more giggly and fun to work with than anyone imagines.

TVGuide.com: I asked Noah Bean about this but he hadn't heard anything. Then again, he ends up dead, so....
[Laughs] Poor guy!

TVGuide.com: But have you heard what the plan would be for a Season 2?
Apparently the producers have something in mind. I was just talking to one of them last night, saying, "Tell me this is how you're going to do it: We solve the Frobisher thing, and the murder mystery becomes the next case." And he was like, "No." [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: Alrighty then!
Yeah, thanks a lot. These guys are amazing and incredibly bright, so we trust them implicitly. But I have a sneaking suspicion that even they do not exactly know how it's going to end. They're fielding a lot of ideas, but I don't think they know.

TVGuide.com: Are you close at all to a Season 2 pickup? Are the ratings there?
I hope so.... It's certainly getting critical praise. An older audience is really drawn to this, and television networks love to have that 18-25 demographic, and I don't think we're doing too great with that group. We're skewing a little old, and that's worrisome for us. But what I'm proud and happy about is they're not kowtowing, like, "We've got to get those young kids in there.... "

TVGuide.com: "So here's Ellen's hot cheerleader girlfriend."
Exactly. There's so much television out there, there have to be a couple of shows that are made for an older, more sophisticated audience. People deserve that.

TVGuide.com: What's the craziest thing you ever had to do in a role?
I actually got to fly a B-17, for Memphis Belle, which was a total thrill. They took us up there and then sort of gave us the controls. That was one of the most thrilling moments in my life, flying this, like, giant Buick!

For more "inside info" on Damages, visit HewesAssociates.com and the mysterious blog at TheSeniorAssociate.com.

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