Interview With Olivia Munn
Sloan is usually the consummate professional. Does she lose control on air?
I don't think she loses control. She took Will's advice-maybe too literally. What Sloan took away from his speech was, "You have a responsibility sitting behind a news desk." The reason why it was important for her to get to the truth was not to get the exclusive or for ratings, it was a timely issue that would affect many people. She felt it was completely necessary to make sure that people were aware of the huge public safety issue-"the difference between life and gruesome death."
Was Sloan out of her element hosting Elliot's show? How is it different than her usual job as a financial reporter?
With money, it's all black and white. You add, you subtract, you carry the two. She doesn't have the gracefulness to ask the question that leads into the answer she wants. When the spokesman doesn't say on air what he told he told her earlier, she doesn't have that touch to get him to say it. To her, it's not about protecting the source; it's about protecting the people.
Do you speak Japanese or did you have to learn that part for the role?
I grew up in Japan so I speak conversational Japanese, but a lot of that vocabulary was new for me. Words like, "radiation," "nuclear reactors" and "tsunami" don't come up very often in conversational Japanese. On top of that, it's not just Japanese, it's Sorkin in Japanese. The other Japanese actors in the scene told me that so many American television shows use a dumbed-down, child's version of Japanese. Our writer and producer Alan Poul actually has a master's degree in Japanese, so we made sure that it was the level of Japanese that a journalist like Sloan would be speaking.
So was that scene written specifically for you?
It was. I was speaking with the writers once and it came out that I spoke Japanese. One day Aaron said to me, "I hear you speak Japanese, I may have you say a line in a future episode." Then he said, "It might be a little more, like ten lines." Then I got the script, and it's a lot more than that. But like every episode with this show, no matter how big or small my role, I just try to bury myself in the homework of the script.
Sloan is comically bad at giving romantic advice, what is her personal life like? Does she have much of one?
Sloan knows what she's doing when it comes to money and business and doing her job. When it comes to the dynamics of people and emotions, it does get a little muddy for her. There are some people who just don't have that kind of ability. We find out she was once engaged and her boyfriend cheated on her the week of her wedding. I don't think she's jaded from the experience, she's just someone who puts what drives her and what makes her happy first. Right now, that's her work. That's what she's passionate about. What's happening in the world economy is too important. If someone comes across her way and love comes in her life, she wouldn't turn it away. But that's not what she's looking for at the moment.
This was a big episode for your character. Was there a particular moment that stood out to you?
I love the scene with Sloan going head to head with Charlie. Maybe it's the Asian in me, but I loved that she was showing this reverence for Charlie and at the same time not backing down. She shows her vulnerability, but she also believes she did the right thing and is being called out like she did something wrong.
There's been chatter online about the way female characters act on the show. Do you believe they're strong characters?
I think the female characters-Sloan, Maggie, MacKenzie-are all really strong. I just find it interesting that a man is allowed to fumble, and be silly, and have faults, and still be a man. But if a woman does those things it's somehow anti-feminist. All of the characters on this show have strengths and weaknesses and moments when they just completely lose it. Women should be allowed to be human without losing intelligence points. As a woman there's this anxiety and pressure that we put on ourselves and that society puts on us to be perfect, to never freak out, to get that great job, raise a family, and have the time and energy to go home and have great sex. If a woman on 'The Newsroom' shows any sign of cracking, it's deemed as a step backward for feminism. But for me, playing a woman who is strong, smart and a leader, and who is allowed to have human moments without giving up her credibility, it's the exact opposite.