The center of USA’s In Plain Sight is definitely U.S. Marshal Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack), but where would Mary be without her loyal partner, U.S. Marshal Marshall Mann? The man behind Marshall, Frederick Weller, recently caught up with me after In Plain Sight‘s celebration at the Paley Center for Media to reflect on the hit original series.
“It’s strange to be finishing up,” he said. “It’s certainly the longest I’ve ever played any character. It’s odd to think that [playing Marshall is] not going to happen again.”
As the show concludes on May 4 after a successful five seasons, he has the distinction of having played Marshall for the entire run of the series – something that doesn’t necessarily happen as much in television anymore, as actors become interested in other projects or characters run their course. When I asked him what that feels like, to know he’s taken this character from the beginning to the end (at least what we’ll see as the end) of his journey, Weller responded with his wonderfully deadpan sense of humor.
“It is unfortunate that they no longer pull the Bewitched move and have the same character with a different actor,” he quipped. “I think that would be amusing to see some other dude playing Marshall. Amusing and horrifying.”
But could the fans see someone else as Marshall Mann? It’s unlikely, as veteran stage actor Weller has imbued him with a combination of that deadpan humor and an almost Zen sensitivity that helps Marshall balance out Mary’s more volatile moments (as much as we all enjoy those moments!). He’s dedicated to his job, compassionate toward those around him, loyal to his partner…and willing to dress up in drag when necessary. Marshall has seen a lot, and there’s a lot that Weller looks back on fondly.
“There are definitely scenes that I loved,” he said. “The scene where Mary and I are telling each other how we feel in the shack in [episode] 104 [“Trojan Horst”]. We’re surrounded by bad guys; to me it’s an amazing scene that epitomizes the beautiful [combination] of guns and sensitivity that makes the show special.”
Over the run of In Plain Sight, he also got to work with his wife, actress Ali Marsh, who played Dr. Shelley Finkel in nine episodes.
“To have her psychoanalyzing me was very interesting,” he told me with a laugh. “It was terrific. It was great. And that was our first time [working together]. We worked together in a short film that I made during season two [Streetcar], but after we had worked together on In Plain Sight. It was great.”
For that and many other reasons, the show has and will have a significance in Weller’s life. “Professionally, personally, it was a huge milestone,” he reflected. “I had two children in Albuquerque, and they had their first birthdays there, they took their first steps there. It was a really big period.”
But there’s one thing he didn’t get to do: “I was hoping to do some kind of dream sequence with Mary [McCormack] in which Mary and I get to sing together – maybe some kind of Mary Shannon nightmare- that would enable us to sing together because she’s got an amazing voice.”
With In Plain Sight concluded, Weller has other projects in the near future. Fans can see him next in the film The Normals, alongside Bryan Greenberg. And for now, he’s looking toward the big screen and the stage. “I’d love to do more movies,” he told me. “I love working with the camera and I love having a little more time to do it. TV is much faster than film, particularly our show.
“I’d like to work with Neil LaBute again,” he added, naming the playwright with whom he worked on both the stage and film versions of The Shape of Things. “We’re talking about doing a play.”
The final two episodes of In Plain Sight air tonight, April 27, and May 4 at 10 PM ET/PT on USA Network.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo credit: USA