Brad Garrett Extols the Virtues of Cable Television (Exclusive Interview)

“Brad Garrett Extols the Virtues of Cable Television”
Interview by Michael Aaron Gallagher of StayFamous.Net

Brad Garrett
Brad Garrett. Photo by Frank Micelotta/FX.

When you first hear the sound of his voice on the other end of the telephone, you expect actor Brad Garrett to be the cranky curmudgeon that he has so masterfully depicted on television in roles like Everybody Loves Raymond’s Robert Barone. But it only takes a moment to realize that fiction is fiction. And it’s a good thing, because as he talked to me about his latest character Joe Bulo from the FX original series Fargo, I learned that he plays quite a dangerous mobster.

Branching out from his stand-up comedy persona, Emmy award-winning actor Brad Garrett took on a more dramatic role this season, which is redefining how audiences see him as an actor.

Over the past decade, the face of television has dramatically changed, moving from a landscape dominated by a few broadcast networks to becoming a more mobile, interactive platform, where cable channels and on-demand services continue to produce what is arguably better, original content.

Fargo is just one example of the new wave of shows that are breaking the mold, and moving entertainment in a bold new direction. An Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning show from creator Noah Hawley (produced by the Coen brothers), the second season of Fargo explores a new story, with new characters, in a new time period, in the same forbidding landscape as the first season of the anthology series.

Brad Garrett as Joe Bulo in "Fargo." Photo by Chris Large/FX.
Brad Garrett as Joe Bulo in “Fargo.”
Photo by Chris Large/FX.

In a recent interview, I asked Brad how working with FX is different from some of the other networks he’s worked with in the past.

“It’s all about the freedom,” Garrett said. “Of course, this is a smaller role, compared to some of the other roles in Fargo this year, but from just being able to see the creative process and the freedom that the writers and the directors are given. You know, there is a huge amount of trust that is handed over to the creators in cable that just doesn’t happen in network [TV]. I’m not sure why that is, I think the execs in network are probably a lot more scared, and fear makes it tough to implement when it comes to the creative process. I think when you hire these people, you got to trust them and trust them to deliver the right product and that is what I think has made cable just soar – it is because they let everyone do what they’re supposed to do. So I think when you get on that set, you feel that vibe and it’s contagious. I mean, everyone is excited, because they are being allowed to do what they’re supposed to do – whether it’s on the acting level or writing or directing. So that’s what seems to be what’s making it work so much better off broadcast [television].”

Brad Garrett. Photo by Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup/FX
Brad Garrett. Photo by Scott Kirkland/PictureGroup/FX

As a viewer, some of the characteristics that Brad looks for when he’s watching a television show are also related to how he views a show as an actor.

“Well you know, at the end of the day, whether you’re watching or whether you’re auditioning or involved in something, it all comes down to the writing,” Garrett said. “The chemistry of a cast, which we’re obviously so grateful for to have this year in Fargo, you don’t know that until once you start shooting. So it really comes down to the pages. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I was a huge True Detective fan, and Fargo of course, and it just comes down to the stakes you see with characters, that they have to go through, the conflict. It’s just all about cable right now with television… they’re mini movies. And that’s what Fargo I think was able to create. So it’s very exciting. You can tell the people that are auditioning and trying out to get these wonderful dramas that’s where it seems to be. The quality is today on television.”

Fargo airs on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX.

“Brad Garrett Extols the Virtues of Cable Television”
Copyright 2015 by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Photography courtesy of FX

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