Why does Jerry alter the tape?
Because he thinks the story is real. He believes Genoa went down the way his other sources told him it did, and he feels like he has enough to go with. This one guy won't quite say exactly the words Jerry needs him to, but he just thinks General Stomtonovich is nervous.
Is he conflicted about it?
Not after the amount of time he spent on the story. He's a true believer, which is something of a term of art for journalists. He believes that the story should be out there and that the people should know.
Throughout the series, the D.C. bureau has been something of a forgotten step-child in the ACN newsroom. Does Jerry have a chip on his shoulder?
At first, Jerry may have been somewhat motivated by ambition and feelings of being neglected. But as the part grew, it seemed to me more and more that he just believed in the veracity of the story, and in the righteousness of the truth coming out. He completely believes that the administration has gone wild in so many other ways pertaining to civil liberties - he's always going on about the drone strikes - and he wouldn't put it past them to do something like this.
Jerry and Jim seem to have something of a rivalry.
Jim's younger and MacKenzie has all this faith in him that I'm sure Jerry wish she had in him. But really what Jerry wants is for her to have as much faith in the story as he does.
Jerry is the closest thing to a villain in this season. How did you approach playing that kind of role?
The great thing about being a bad guy as that you're the only person in the room who doesn't think you're a bad guy. You have to commit to what your character believes is good.
"The great thing about being a bad guy as that you're the only person in the room who doesn't think you're a bad guy."
As an actor, you also came into a cast that was fully-formed and had its own relationships. Was that difficult?
They really treated me like a villain - I can't tell you how many times Tom Sadoski spit in my eye just because he's a senior producer. It was actually great. I knew a bunch of the cast just from acting in New York. The ones I didn't know-Olivia [Munn], Emily [Mortimer], Jeff [Daniels]-couldn't have been more welcoming. It's like a real traveling theater company.
Jerry's one of the few people in the office who is not involved in a love triangle. Did you feel left out?
I like that we're talking about him like he's a real person. It's a little ridiculous that Aaron [Sorkin] didn't pick up on the natural chemistry I had with Alison [Pill]... and Emily... and Olivia... and Sam [Waterston]. I thought I was there to be another point on another love triangle - instead I was there to bring sarin gas.
What's it like performing Aaron Sorkin's dialogue?
You get these huge paragraphs of talk and they're terrifying. You think, "I'll never learn it." But as soon as you start, it just goes into your brain because they have this gorgeous organic rhythm. Suddenly, you're singing these wonderful speeches.
What news story would you most like to have broken?
What would your newsroom beat be?
Op-ed on A-Rod.
Name a skill that good actors and good reporters share:
Being like Derek Jeter.
Where do you get your news?
New York Times, Huffington Post, mom, agent.
What's your worst workplace moment?
Being naked in-the-round at the Public Theater getting a hernia exam, with my mom in the audience.
If you could have Aaron Sorkin write your dialogue for one everyday interaction, what would it be?
Talking myself into getting out of bed in the morning.