Currently in the midst of its fourth season, “In Plain Sight” continues to offer witness protection challenges, along with a surprise pregnancy for U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon. Unlike many television series that film in Los Angeles, “In Plain SIght” films in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So taking a few moments to chat during a conference call with press, co-stars Mary McCormack and Fred Weller provided a fun and insightful look at what to expect as the new season unfolds.
First, talking about what she loved the most about playing her character, Mary said, “I just love the character. . . David Maples, who created the show, just wrote a really great part. I mean Fred’s part is great too, and so is Paul Ben-Victor’s. . He just really wrote some three-dimensional characters. . . I love them. I love that Mary Shannon’s really good at her job and not so good at her personal life. I like that she’s cynical and sarcastic . . . it’s just fun to play someone so grouchy.” She laughingly added, “It’s sort of refreshing. I can be a little bit grouchy myself so it’s a comfortable fit.”
Then, as a nice twist, the big challenge for Mary this season is dealing with both her own real-life pregnancy and the fact that her character will be pregnancy to. Mary is not sure how the pregnancy is being written in yet, but speculated, “Mary Shannon . . . you don’t think of her as necessarily maternal so it’s making for some interesting story stuff and character stuff, which I think is really fun to play. . . .To me, I think it’s really interesting to see someone play pregnant who is pregnant. . . . [and] as a woman I find it refreshing to sort of see someone who’s passionate about their career and then having to try to come to terms with this new area in her life.” To which Fred impishly added, “You’re every bit as pretty as any fake pregnant lady.” He also said that he had come up with an idea on how Marshall reacts to Mary’s pregnancy, “I think Marshall has a pregnancy fetish, but they haven’t written that in yet, that I know of.” To which Mary exclaimed, “I love it! You better tell the writers if you want that written,” and Fred replied, “I tried. I told Cockrell. He says he put it in the file.” Mary thought it would be simply hilarious if the writers actually wrote that in.
Then despite fans clamoring for the baby to be Marshall’s, the identity of Mary’s baby daddy on the show is being delicately handled. Mary said that because she just found out that she was pregnant, “We’ve just started working it in so we’ll see. I mean I’m not sure where it ends up yet — and it was a lot of news for the writers and they’ve had to act fast. So they’ve been really sweet about it and really adaptable. . . . I think the thought was it might actually provide for — as opposed to just being sort of a wrench — it might actually provide for really an interesting development in Season 4. . . . [and] if the theme of the season is change, it sort of falls right into that.” She explained, “If Mary’s whole life is changing, her mom is sober, her sister’s engaged and getting married and Marshall is in this relationship which seems to be working and is sort of meaningful — then what’s she left with? And all of a sudden she has this enormous change in her own life too. So I think it’s going to actually be really rich for stories.” In fact, with this new development, Mary is extremely excited to see for herself what this next season has in store.
Commenting about his character Marshall and the fact that he is in a new relationship and what it means when he discovers his partner is pregnant, Fred noted, “Marshall’s feelings are now inevitably more submerged.” Jumping in, Mary added, “[But] it’s always there — and this season it is interesting because all the sudden I’m pregnant which is confusing in terms of I think our feelings for each other. And then there’s also his new relationship which throws a wrench in it. And you sort of see all the stuff percolating along the way. . . We never leave that story all together, because it’s just there. It’s in their friendship and their friendship is so close that it’s obviously somehow more than that all the time.”
Also, from her character’s perspective there is much more going on than just her unexpected pregnancy, Mary elaborated, “She’s sort of confused. . . . like in the first episode you see her expecting her sister to fall right into old patterns and it turns out she really hasn’t. So it sort of kicks off the theme of: if your whole life is spent taking care of other people, and then those other people randomly either get sober or learn how to take care of themselves — I think her identity’s in question. I mean a big part of her is sort of walking around feeling sort of smug and proud of herself for being the only adult in the room and now she’s not the only adult in the room. So I think it’s interesting. For her it’s a big shift . . . and now on top of it she’s becoming the one thing she never wanted to be, which is a mother. So we’ll see. I don’t know what they have in store. . . But it should be exciting.”
Also, because her character portrays such a tough facade, she is hard to read. Thus, Mary revealed, “One of my favorite things about the voice-overs at least from my perspective, is that Mary Shannon is a person who doesn’t let people in. . . she barely lets Marshall in and he’s the closest person in her life to her. And so to me it’s opportunity for the audience to just know the real her. . . .I think what’s nice is the audience has a really intimate relationship with her, even though she doesn’t really allow anyone else to. . . I love those and I think they’re beautifully written.” Though Fred noted, “There are kind of fewer bits about Marshall’s ability to read Mary, but it’s very much part of their everyday relationship. . . . I think it’s interesting.”
Then looking inside Marshall’s head, Fred tried to explain Marshall’s unique viewpoint on life, by sharing, “I think that he’s a romantic . . . and I think that he looks at himself and Mary kind of like that famous [Isaiah Berlin] essay about Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, about the humanities divided into the foxes and the hedgehogs — and I think [Marshall] thinks of himself as a hedgehog and Mary as a fox. . . . To elaborate that: hedgehogs define all of existence by one controlling idea and the foxes see existence as a vast variety of controlling ideas — and, for Marshall, to control the idea is love — and Mary has no one controlling idea.” As he and Mary laughed over this complex analogy, it was agreed that both characters are simply approaching life from different perspectives — which is both interesting and adds a layer of complication to their working relationship.
Finally, when asked what makes the show so popular with the fans as the show enters its fourth season, Fred said, “It’s a great drama with a sense of humor — and I don’t think that’s a very common combination on television.” Mary also added, “Something USA does really well is character stuff, and . . . I think the character relationships are really rich and fresh and funny. . . I love reading the scenes between me and Fred or I love Paul Ben-Victor’s character so much, and so I think that’s a big part of it. . . Witness protection just makes for exciting stories and it’s a really rich sort of place to grab stories from . . . people starting over completely, saying goodbye to their lives before . . . it never ends in terms of story opportunities.”
So with so many big changes upcoming this season, you will want to see for yourself how it unfolds and works out — and, of course, find out who Mary’s baby daddy is!
Be sure to tune in for the return of “In Plain Sight” Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. on USA Network.
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