The simmering sexual tension has been palpable since the first second Dani met Nico in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. Perhaps Dani has been a bit distracted with her relationship with Matt and getting past her divorce to take much notice of the extra special attention Nico has always made of point of extending to her, but fans sure did – and if the previews of this week’s episode are any indication, Dani is about to find out for herself. In a recent press conference call, star Callie Thorne candidly shared her thoughts on the possible Dani-Nico-Matt love triangle and where Dr. Dani’s head is at with such heart-tugging possibilities before her.
Can you tell us a bit more about the romantic entanglements that Dani finds herself confronted with at the end of the season?
CALLIE: Well, I think in regards to the past — because she is the fixer and the idea of this fixer needing help to be fixed herself — and in regards to Matt, how we’ve seen that relationship come to such a big wall in regards to the fact that Matt definitely wants kids, and Dani sort of makes this big sacrifice because she doesn’t want kids, and she doesn’t want to feel like she’s stopping Matt from his own dreams — it’s obvious that they love each other, but now they’re in this weird limbo. And it kind of sets up her feeling vulnerable and in regards to her relationship with Nico as well, and how [Matt and Nico] are polar opposites and always have been as men, and in her life and as we’re coming to this summer finale, because we see her in her private life, in the most vulnerable in regards to her kids as well, and points that they’re reaching in her life, it’s sort of every which way she turns, everything feels like a question. And she can’t answer them. And yet, where we go to in a little bit is that we finally see her reach out for help and Peter McNichol, who plays the therapist is genius. Those therapy scenes are really eye-opening for her, and very surprising. But this point now, this strange limbo that can be a little bit paralyzing, and it leaves her to wonder whether or not she’s making the wrong decision with Matt and possibly finding herself losing the love of her life and then because of the work circumstances, suddenly there’s this open possibility with Nico, which then throws her into mass confusion. The one thing that it does do, it keeps her grounded in the work because that’s the one place that she can go to that she knows answers and she can use her own questions to help her guide her patients and help them. But then at the end of the day, she’s still struggling and thankfully that’s what we do on our show, and we don’t tie everything up in a bow. I think it’s very interesting for the audience to sort of be with her in the present and see that she is a woman with the relatable problems that everybody can find themselves in.
There’s so many different things that are pulling at Dani’s focus right now, from family to TK’s addiction, now this new trouble with her job. Can you talk a little bit about her mindset in the beginning of the episode and kind of where her focus really is throughout the episode?
CALLIE: Well, certainly in regards to the episode that aired last [week], I think that it’s a perfect lead in to this heightened state of her life and everybody’s life because of TK being the main connection between our main characters. And when he struggles, we all struggle. I think because Dani is in vulnerable state in her own personal life, with what’s going on with her kids, and Ray Jay specifically and the trouble that he is most probably leading himself into, as a mother, Dani can’t — as much as she wants to control it — she can’t. She can’t control her feelings. I mean she made the sacrifice to let Matt go, but that doesn’t mean that she feels solid with herself. She feels like she did a solid [thing], but it leaves her in this very sort of wondrous question mark. But I think, as is true in many other people’s lives, it then becomes easier for her to zone in on the work, to zone in on TK and not turn away, not let things go, and, like, even though Matt and Nico at first were not so sure about whether or not there was a real problem with Terrence and a possible addiction, she was not going to let that go — she has to continue, whether it was doing it on her own or being able to convince them. And that path that we see them all go on next week, it’s very all of a sudden life goes into fast forward, and everyone’s in place where you’ve got to make a choice. Whether or not she is trying to help TK make the right choice in regards to himself and being honest with himself, it’s hard for her to do that on her own, but it makes it easier to help someone else see the light. And it also helps to drive others around her. It was fun even though we were shooting some really heavy stuff, we were also shooting at a very fast pace because there were a lot of locations and you’ve got to make your days, and so it was a really crazy couple of weeks, but an enormous amount of fun because everybody’s separate story lines are so rich that we all were kind of like chomping at the bit. That was pretty damn cool.
What can you share about the upcoming trouble with Dani’s son, Ray Jay?
CALLIE: That comes up in a little bit because Ray Jay is sort becoming man and he finds himself in a situation where he’s wanting and needing to make these choices that, as mother, Dani can’t come to grips with. And, again, that’s a place where every mother finds herself at some point, whether it’s for the son or daughter. The way the writers handle that hurdle, it is a parallel in regards to her own life and to some of the patients that come her way. I think that whether or not she makes mistakes, whether they’re with her love life or with her children or her own placement in her life, I think and hope will make others contemplate their own choices in life. I don’t think that things can ever be right or wrong, it’s just the paths that you take, the forks in your life. And that’s really where we find in the season finale, is it’s about the forks in life, and that there’s no right or wrong, it’s just the way that you handle yourself and following the truth that you find yourself in. And that’s just struggle. That’s hard to do, but it makes everything that much more worth it.
Do you relate to what Dani’s going through?
CALLIE: Especially through the second season, and especially now, with the mid-season finale, as an actress and as a woman, because though I have a lot similarities with Dani, how she is at work and the drive that she has to follow a path for her patients and follow a path for herself, and that she has guts, or at least will “fake it until she makes it.” I try to live myself that way. The fact that she’s a mother and also the place where she is in the triangle in her life and the idea of possibly losing the love of your life, those are things — at least right now — I know nothing about in my real life. It makes playing this character one of the richest times of my life because I have to do my homework. I have to sit and think. Sometimes with a role or with a scene, it’s something that you can just say, “What would I do in this moment?” and you just stay honest and you follow through on your connection with the other actor. But there are a lot of moments in NECESSARY ROUGHNESS where I have to take a timeout. I can’t joke in between takes, which we are all tempted to do. I have to sort of separate myself, whether or not that means listening to particular song or remembering conversations that I’ve had with other women that are in places like that. It’s why you become an actor. You want to find those places and tell those stories as honestly as you can, but it’s putting yourself through that thought process that will then, hopefully, elevate my real life and how I handle myself in my real life. I can’t think of another job that would ever let me do that or ever lead me down those paths and I feel very grateful.
How close will Dani get with Nico before the end of the summer finale?
CALLIE: I don’t know how to answer it without getting in trouble. I think that it’s sort of a blindside. She gets a little blindsided because it’s like all of a sudden — how she has been trying to not deny her personal [life] — but, like I said, it’s sort of much easier for her to head in the work mode. I think that certainly with Nico, because they are so focused on TK, that the fact that anything personal pops up is very — I mean, it’s sort of mysterious and in itself as a surprise. Also because we know so little about Nico as a man and as Dani gets a little bit closer to the inner-Nico, I think that it’s perfect for the audiences to also get into the inner-Nico.
How do you feel about Team Matt versus Team Nico?
CALLIE: I love it, I love it, I love it, because that idea of Matt — he is the solid good man, who does the right thing — and he’s like a hug, do you know what I mean? He’s like a delicious, romantic hug, and then Nico is the bad boy that you can’t figure out and all you want to do is figure him out, which of course is just as sexy as the good guy. I was very excited that the writers leaned a little bit more towards the triangle because I, as Callie, I want to know what she’s going to do and how she’s going to do it. So it’s that much more exciting. It’s making me as an actress be like, “Come on guys, give me a little hint!” because sometimes you don’t want to know the end-result as an actress, and there are times when you’re just a fan yourself and you want to know. But I’ve been waiting a little bit for it to reach this point in the show… I love that there’s any kind of Team Matt/Team Nico, I think that it’s crazy and exciting. I’m split as a fan because it literally happens scene to scene. Like if I’m a scene with Marc Blucas, I’m like, “Oh, she’s got to end up with Matt, she has to.” And then if I’m doing a scene with Scott Cohen, I’m like, always thinking, “Oh, no, no, no, she’s got to be with the guy that she’s got to try and put together like a puzzle.”
The midseason finale is really dramatic. Did you have any parts that were your favorite, without giving too much away? And how is it working with the fish?
CALLIE: Little Dude, as I call him. I think that any of the stuff that we ever shot with Little Dude, I think I sort of treated him as the third man in my life, which made those scenes that much more fun to play. And, yes, the midseason finale, in regards to NECESSARY ROUGHNESS, which we think of it as a drama with a really good dose of comedy, but this place that TK and Dani and Matt and Nico all are sort of forced into, this big fork in the road that is about choice, and sort of not being able to figure out if there’s a right or a wrong. And I really think we all were in this place that we were all very excited to be in, and to have the show take this particular tone for a finale, the idea that we want to audience to try and figure out along with us was part of the M.O., and because whether or not something ends with a gunshot or with this gigantic, heightened level of fear, excitement, love, whatever it is, we wanted to keep everything really grounded in reality and not have it necessarily be something soap-operaish, but much more developed in the big choices in life, the game changers.
Can you talk about why the Dani/TK pairing is so successful as therapist and client, and how hard has it been for Dani to see what’s been going on with TK lately?
CALLIE: I think the relationship between TK and Dani — because it is the central thing — that from the beginning of the show, from the pilot, TK is the character that really connects to everybody. Sometimes people say that my character is who connects everybody within our world, but more often, I feel like it’s TK and, because he holds so much an amazing spot in her heart, I think that, especially when we get to shoot those scenes, Mehcad and I, we also have a very different and separate and special friendship I think that was developed in the pilot. He and I really got on from the get-go and we have the same drive to tell a good story within the show, but we laugh and laugh and laugh. We have such the same sense of humor and he can break me in a scene faster than most people I know. I try to pride myself on no matter what’s going on, I’m not breaking, but Mehcad will come up with the craziest improvs, and because it doesn’t matter, sometimes I’ll just have to walk off camera. I’ll have to walk off set and go compose myself, but because of that chemistry that we have as friends, I think that it comes across on camera. And whether it’s a parental connection that Dani has with him, or whether it is just, it can’t be categorized because he’s never met a woman like Dani and she’s never met a man like him, and so I think that there is this real sense of trust and there is a real sense of being. Well, previous to where we find ourselves now, there has always been a place where they can let, and especially TK, let his defense down. But where we find ourselves now is this moment in time, where parents might be going backwards, Dani is trying to zone back into that place that they had gotten to, and that I think is very complex and interesting, without giving anything away.
How much research does it take to get into the mind of a therapist?
CALLIE: I’m very lucky in that because the role is based on a real woman, that her life story, and how she got this particular point in her life. I have always had her, since we made the pilot. I’ve always had her to turn to in regards to things that could get confusing to me, whether it was about a particular issue or disorder, or how you handle yourself within sessions. But also I have had a lot therapy experience in my life. I love therapy. I’ve been going to therapy forever, and so I think that because I am so fascinated myself with the idea of always trying to figure yourself out and always trying to be honest with yourself, that you can make strong choices in your life. Then it makes me that much more interested in the other side of it. So I am always learning, even if it’s just me doing my own research. I’ve not been able to play a role like that before, but the main point being that I have Dr. Donna to turn to in times of great confusion or question — and for that I am blessed.
To see Dani’s reaction to discovering that there may just be something there with Nico and how she deals with the heart-wrenching issues involving both RayJay and TK, be sure to tune in for the summer finale of NECESSARY ROUGHNESS on Wednesday, August 29th at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network. The heart wants what that heart wants, now if only Dani can figure out what she wants!
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