Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
He chose the role, he says, because he wanted to shake up his career. “As an actor, I was always keenly aware that you have these little pockets of time where things are going well, you have your heyday, and then that drops off,” he says. “Being an actor is like being a walking milk carton. We all have our expiration dates.”
He says the best time he ever had as an actor was doing comedy — hosting “Saturday Night Live,” making “The Campaign” with Will Ferrell. “Laugh all day long,” he says. “That’s what I want.”
So he told his agents he wanted to read everything, including half-hours. “I wanted to something that was going to be different,” he says. “I wanted people to see me in a completely different light.”
He had to convince everyone, though, that he could do comedy. “Nobody looked at me and said, ‘Oh, he’s funny,'” he recalls. They were all nervous the first day of shooting, he says, but he was confident he could deliver. “I am Captain Dave,” he says. “The mustache started to grow spontaneously.”
No one wanted the mustache, he says, but he insisted on it. “I wanted him to be odd and different and bizarre and weird and wrong,” he says.
“LA to Vegas” is a comedy about the culture of people who travel between the two cities. “You start very optimistic,” he says, “and you come back very pessimistic.” It’s also about the indignity of air travel. “It’s horrible all the time, and it’s not getting better,” he says.
The show finds its comedy in absurd situations, which McDermott loves playing. He says he tells the writers, “You can be as absurd as you want, you can be as funny as you want,” he says, “but I always want Captain Dave to have heart.”
And the third episode brings a guest star he’s often confused with but rarely crossed paths with on screen: Dermot Mulroney. “The confusion has been so real for so many years,” he says, “so the fact that we could poke fun at ourselves and finally be on screen together and create more confusion, I think, is perfect.” And while they might have resented the confusion in the past, he says, “We’ve finally arrived at a place where it’s zen, and now we’re friends.”
With all the projects on his plate, he says he “would love to go back” to “American Horror Story,” given creator Ryan Murphy’s plan to tie all the seasons together. “We’ve been trying to figure it out,” he says. “Maybe the last season, Connie [Britton] and I come back and do something just to sort of bookend it.”
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