How is it revisiting the series 15 years later?
It’s fun. God,15 years -- it’s hard to wrap your mind around. I remain very, very grateful to have been a part of that show and I’m very proud of it, so it’s fun to talk about it.
Have you rewatched any of the episodes lately?
No, I haven’t. I have some things in my apartment. On my wall, I have a copy of that Gregory Krutzen photograph with all of us sitting in the kitchen surrounded by roses that was part of the ad campaign for the third season. That’s a part of the imagery that I’m filled with everyday and I’m sure that has some effect.
When you initially read for the role, did you have any inkling that David -- and his relationship with Keith -- would be so iconic?
I don’t think I had words like, “iconic” in mind, but I did recognize that the character, as I read him on the page, was unique in my experience up to that point. He was a fundamental fabric of the story that was being told. His relationship to his homosexuality was not incidental, but fundamental to who he was, what he struggled with and his inherent conflict. When I got the part, I felt a sense of obligation to garner that character’s truth -- maybe I was more intensely charged with a sense of responsibility to get it right because I knew that David was special in that way.
Were you nervous at all?
Sure! I was a lot of things; nervous, exhilarated, pinching myself. I had really high hopes the show would be something special, given the quality of the script, network and the other actors involved. I was thankful to be playing a character who was tense, so I didn’t have to pretend I wasn’t so nervous. I could just funnel my nerves into the performance.
Given their unique place in TV history, does any opening scene still stand out to you?
I liked so many of them. The woman who thought it was the rapture when she saw all of the blow-up dolls flying through the air; she got out of her car and was killed [Season 4, Episode 2: “In Case of Rapture”]. The person who was hit by ice from the airplane [Season 3, Episode 13 “I’m Sorry, I’m Lost”], or the one where the guy was killed with a frying pan [Season 1, Episode 10, “The New Person”]. I loved the ones where there was a misdirect -- when you thought one person was going to get it, then it was somebody else; Like when Mitzi Dalton Huntley, the evil funeral home conglomerate woman, was standing out there playing golf and seemed to have a heart palpitation then drove her golf ball into some unwitting old lady [Season 1, Episode 13, “Knock, Knock”].
How often do fans approach you about the series finale?
A significant percentage of people who approach me to talk about the show will mention the finale. I actually went to a boxing class yesterday and the guy who was wrapping my hands before it started said, “I got to admit to you, bro, I cried my eyes out during that Six Feet Under finale. Keep it on the down-low.”
How did you feel when you read that final script?
I felt excited -- I was in on a really amazing secret. I felt really satisfied as somebody who was on the inside of the experience of making that show in a way that I think the audience ultimately felt satisfied when they watched it. I imagined that it would be cathartic for all of us to make and ultimately cathartic to watch. It felt so simultaneously surprising and kind of obvious. There was a sense of, “Oh my God,” and “Of course.”
Other than David, which character did you feel connected to?
Part of what I loved and what audiences might have loved about the show is that at any given moment, you might find yourself gravitating towards the experience or point of view of any given character. I can think of ways that I relate to so many of the characters, but aside from David, I would say Ruth. She was just so repressed in her way, but because of Frannie [Conroy]’s brilliant portrayal, her heart was always on her sleeve, somehow. I always loved her so much.
Is there anything in particular you hope new viewers take away?
Nothing different than what I’ve hoped that any fan at any point would take away: That they find themselves genuinely entertained with emotional experiences that might resonate in a deeper way. And I would hope that they watch the episodes in order from the beginning -- a cumulative effect is important.
Could you have predicted the show’s legacy?
When we started, the landscape and the ways in which media was consumed were a bit different. So I didn’t anticipate that it would be so readily available to viewers in the way that it now is and would maintain a presence that I couldn’t quite imagine. I’m just amazed that new viewers are so easily able to come to it. For as many people who tell me, “I love the finale,” there are people who approach me and tell me, “I’m on Season 3!”, which is pretty wild.