Now on to my personal highlight: the interview with Jonathan Frakes. Marc wasn’t sure he’d be able to swing it, but they finished shooting early (which Mr. Frakes says is one of his specialties, coming in on time). They had just finished shooting the love scene at the beginning of the "Marriage Is Murder" episode, so he had been on a closed set all afternoon. Marc jumped in and made the request. Jonathan agreed to do an interview, but not on video. I whipped out my trusty digital tape recorder and followed him up a few flights of stairs to find a reasonably quiet location, since the crew was noisily packing up all the equipment from that day’s shoot.
Well, he couldn’t have been nicer. In addition, he was completely focused on The Glades as a series, and not just on his piece of it. The first thing he wanted to know was what rating the show would have to get in its second week to be considered a hit. (The show had just premiered a few days earlier.) He had a lot to say about Matt Passmore, including the fact that his own mom had called to talk about how much she liked him, and that it was noticeable to anyone who watched the show:
“He’s gorgeous without being disarming, he’s accessible, he’s got a twinkle in his eye, sort of a Machiavellian twinkle, I mean he’s just, he’s playing it dry, he’s got wonderful comic timing, he’s sexy. He’s the whole package, he’s like a movie star.”
He does look like a movie star.
I asked him how he got the gig, although I knew he’d been accumulating credits directing episodes of Leverage, V, and The Good Guys, among other shows. “I come in on time,” he said with a big laugh. “And I’m a reformed actor, so I think, assuming that people work the way I do, I think it’s good for the actors to know there’s another member of the brotherhood around keeping their eye on it so it’s not all about the technology. Stay on the story, stay on the characters.”
As someone who has seen his directing work on the various Star Treks and V, as well as a few other shows, I mentioned that he has a very visual style, much more than I’d expect from your basic actor-director.
“You steal things that you’ve seen that you like and you try to find a way to put ‘em into your shows,” he told me. “Framing, staging, lighting. I steal from the good ones. That’s what I think that most people do.”
I asked if there was any sort of signature style he was bringing to the show. After some thought, he told me, “The camera doesn’t stop. A lot of the things that (Michael) Lohmann the DP and I like are the same. We both like a lot of foreground; we like to keep the camera moving. If the people are still we move, or the people move, but we, we’re very big on that, especially when there’s so much information or exposition. You won’t see a lot of people sitting around talking to each other, I promise you that.”
Director of Photography Michael Lohmann and Jonathan Frakes discuss what they're seeing on the monitor.
I also wanted to know what it was like for him getting his first directing job, on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
“I had sort of the double-edged sword that when I expressed interest in directing while Star Trek was still a tv series, Rick Berman -- who was our executive producer who runs the show and is also a friend, whose wife is the godmother to our son – said, “If I give you one, you’ve got to be SO prepared.” He told me he ended up spending about 300 hours in the editing room on the show before they ever let him step up to direct. It shows, and he went on after that to direct more Next Generation episodes as well as Deep Space Nine, Voyager, two of the Star Trek movies, and a handful of Roswells.
And now that the Star Trek floodgates had been opened, I asked if anyone on The Glades crew had come up to him to confess their love of Star Trek and excitement about having him on the set.
“Sure,” he said with a grin. “I worry if they don’t.” He laughed. “I’d be upset if they didn’t. It’s part of the gift that keeps on giving. That was 182 episodes, 7 seasons, 4 movies. And it changed my life, changed all of our lives that were on the show. We’re very blessed to have been part of it.”
I brought up the very obvious on-set chemistry he and his castmates had on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He smiled. “I’ve been on shows where that’s not the case. On our show for some reason, the chemistry of that on-stage family, I mean, we still get together, we all stood up at each other’s weddings, we’re godparents to each other’s kids. Patrick just got knighted so we had this wonderful dinner where we all got together for Sir Patrick night. I just got texted from Patrick with a question, he just got nominated for an Emmy, and wanted to make sure I was going to be at the convention we’re doing together in Vegas.” He mentioned plans he had with Brent Spiner, and that Marina Sirtis was sending him a script and is best friends with his wife. “It’s sick how intermingled this is,” he concluded.
I asked if he’d seen that sort of cast chemistry on other shows, and he couldn’t have segued more perfectly back to The Glades. “I think that Carlos and Matt and Jordan, the guy who plays Daniel, that triangle has real magic and also, Matthew’s relationship with Kiele, that has a great dynamic. What’s really special, I’ve noticed, is the off-camera relationship that he has with Jeff, to whom he’s the surrogate father. Uriah. Matt is to Uriah as Longworth is to Jeff, on camera and off, and it’s so palpable that Matt really enjoys this young man’s company, and vice versa.” Uriah had said the same thing in his interview with us.
I wanted to talk more Trek, and find out how I, too, could start receiving texts from Patrick Stewart, but somewhere, from I know not where, I found some self-restraint. I didn’t even ask if they were having dinner before the Emmys, and what the name of the restaurant might be, and if it took reservations.
And then on a completely human, non-Star-Trek, non-Glades level, we commiserated on the difficulties of being away from our (respective) kids. I was only dealing with two days. “Try three weeks,” he said. He was feeling guilty for making his wife hold the fort for so long, and missing his family like crazy. If there's something unlikable about Jonathan Frakes, I defy you to find it.
With the interview done, I thanked him profusely, then guiltily asked if I could take his picture. I try not to be a cheesy fan, but occasionally I just have to do something for the little kid inside of me.
Oh yeah, and then there’s that bit where I went to pick up the tape recorder, and dropped it. Batteries flew. I managed to scoop up the pieces and then walked back downstairs in terror that none of the interview had been recorded and my co-workers, both of whom report to me, were going to have a great story for the rest of our team back in New York. (“Our boss did a whole interview without recording it!”) Fortunately, the interview survived the fall and so did the tape recorder. Phew!
We got a few more shots on set and then went back to the production office. Marc gave us a tour of the warehouse where they shoot the scenes at Callie’s & Jim’s houses, as well as the police station.