Interview With Emily Mortimer
Was there a moment that convinced Mac to go ahead with Genoa?
It's when we're all discussing whether or not to go ahead and Jerry delivers a big speech where he basically says, "The problem is you like this president." It's a brilliant moment because [Aaron] Sorkin puts what I think is the most compelling speech of the season into the mouth of the villain.
I know there are moments in my own life where I allow myself to be persuaded. I really want and need something to be true, so I talk down the niggling side of my brain.
So Mac always had her suspicions.
I think it's been a dawning realization for Mac. From the beginning there was a part of her that knew this story couldn't be true, but gradually Genoa became undeniable because there was so much evidence supporting it - more evidence than the team usually needs. In that respect, she and Charlie really did due diligence. At the same time, she has this feeling in the pit of her stomach that it can't be true.
The stakes couldn't have been higher.
It brings up so many issues about journalistic ethics. Of course there's going to be a part of them that's thinking about Pulitzers. The riskiness of the story means that if we've uncovered this appalling fact, our careers will be made. It's our Pentagon Papers.
Knowing how important the story is, how did Mac end up leading Valenzuela in his pre-interview?
It's so easy for any journalist to do; for any documenter of the so-called truth coming at something with an angle, it's practically impossible to retain complete objectivity at all times.
How the show changed the way you look at journalism?
Yes. The whole issue of when it is and is not right to expose things, like with WikiLeaks and now Snowden - and certainly this Genoa story in our show - fascinates me: The ethics of disclosing facts, who is making these decisions, and at what point are we morally compelled to reveal official secrets?
The irony is that in the show, we all feel horrendously guilty that we've broken a story that isn't true, to the point that we all want to leave our jobs in shame. I'm not sure how much that happens in real life.
You can really see how much it tortures Mac to have to redact the story.
Yes. It's everything she has set out not to do. It's the absolute worst thing that could have possibly happened.
Switching gears, Mac is clearly in love with Will. Why doesn't she make a play to get him back?
In a way, Will has a no fly zone around him when it comes to Mac. She's got this guilt about having betrayed him and neither of them can get over it. Also, their status quo is a relationship that's more successful than a lot of marriages. They're a very good team. So to actually make a play for him is frightening because it could implode on itself and screw up their working relationship, which in some ways is the most important thing in both of their lives.
And it's fun to see Mac get jealous of Nina.
That was awful! I'd get the scripts the week before and I was like, "F*cking hell. She's in his shower?" It was at that moment I realized, my God, I'm really invested in this character and this relationship.
Do you share any characteristics with Mac?
I don't know that I do... I've grown attached to her and I feel invested in what's going to happen to her. I want the best for her. I definitely enjoy the banter. In another life I would have liked to be that person, Katharine Hepburn in a Spencer Tracy movie. It's living out some sort of fantasy.