Neither Blair Underwood nor Josh Charles knew where their characters were headed when each began filming their respective episodes of HBO’s psychological drama “In Treatment.”
Each saw only the first week on the Israeli version of the show as creator Rodrigo Garcia didn’t want to give too much away.
“I wanted to see more, but they wouldn’t show us,” says Charles, who played Jake, a musician seeking marriage counseling along with wife Embeth Davidtz. “Actually, I couldn’t disagree with that.”
If both Charles and Underwood had foreseen where their Israeli counterparts were destined, they might have been overprepared and not brought such raw emotion to where their characters ended their onscreen journey.
Certainly, the roles demanded a certain amount of pent-up energy, as the point of therapy is to bring those inner feelings to a boil and then figure out ways to understand and alleviate the pain.
“The fact that this character is an angry rageaholic, that’s a given,” Charles says. “What was exciting was what was underneath all that rage.”
Underwood, who portrayed a Navy pilot who had killed a handful of children after dropping a bomb over a target in Iraq, had to bring plenty of both bravado and narcissism to the role, yet had a complete revelation as his character is picked apart psychoanalytically by therapist Gabriel Byrne.
“I didn’t know where the character was going, but I did know a breakdown was coming,” Underwood explains. “What I loved about him was that he was looking up to images of how he should be — a pilot, a father, a lover — but not who he really was.”
Charles and Underwood say the production felt unlike anything they had done on TV in the past.
“On HBO, you can do risky projects and have the freedom and trust of the people doing the shows. You didn’t know where it was going, but the possibilities felt huge,” says Charles.
Adds Underwood: “What made it felt so exciting was that it was like doing a one-act play. I loved that it was groundbreaking American TV. It was unique and different, but it could’ve also gone down in flames. The payoff was good.”
Favorite scene: “I loved the scene when Embeth breaks down and is trying to talk about what her father said. She starts sobbing uncontrollably. I found it very profound.”
What you like most about your character: “I liked his humor on a few occasions. It was dark and reflected back to Paul and Amy. Other times I found it sarcastically funny.”
TV guilty pleasure: “There are two shows I’m obsessed with: ‘The First 48’ on A&E and ‘Deadliest Catch’ on Discovery.”
Favorite scene: “His breakdown. That’s where he’s most vulnerable and it’s his true self. What you see about him is that he’s not connecting to the monologues.”
What you like most about your character: “I liked him best when Alex talks about his son. It was very much what Alex must’ve been like as a child.”
TV guilty pleasure: “I like ‘The Apprentice.’ I learn a lot from watching Donald Trump, and my kids are into it.”