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October 4, 2015

A fast Q&A with Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt of Standoff

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 20th 2006 7:01PM
Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt of StandoffOn the new FOX drama Standoff, Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt play Matt Flannery and Emily Lehman, who are partners on one of the FBI's finest crisis negotiaton teams. They also happen to be sleeping together. The show examines how the personal aspect of their relationship mixes in with the high-stakes nature of their jobs. I was able to get a few minutes with the pair before the screening of the show's pilot at the New York Television Festival. Of course, no Ron Livingston interview could go by without my sneaking in an Office Space question or two, which I did at the end:

JK: So you guys are happy with the performance of the show so far?

Livingston: Yeah. I think so. The way FOX's strategy works is to get it out there, you know, try to sneak it out there before everybody else's premieres, then spend the first three-four weeks letting as many people sample it as they can. And then they've kind of got a captive audience with baseball to promote it and bring it back with a splash. So that's going to be interesting to see how we do when we come back.

JK: So you don't mind the show taking a month-long break for the playoffs?

Honestly? I think it'll give us a chance to get a little bit ahead in the pipeline and get the scripts ready.

JK: What do you think people like about shows that have a lot of sexual tension, a "will-they-won't-they" dynamic?

DeWitt: We don't really have a "will-they-or-won't they."
Livingston: Yeah, we've skipped right over that. They've done it and...
DeWitt: It's like "they are." (I laugh) No, and it's messy! The first couple of months aren't easy with a lot of (couples).
Livingston: If there's a "will-they-won't-they", it's "will they or won't they break up?"

JK: And you're also doing this high-stakes profession together, and your characters are together all the time. Are they going to address this during the season, maybe build the tension because of that?

DeWitt: They're going to weave (the relationship) into the crises. They're not separate.
Livingston: You know, people who watch the show may or may not have a lot of experience being FBI negotiators, but most of them have experience dating someboday. And to me, I think part of what's real fun about the show is I think people also have... if they work a job when they're in very very close contact with somebody, and they have to try to get along, so...

JK: What kind of research did you do for the role? Did you follow around negotiators as they did their jobs?

Livingston: It's not something that's real easy to shadow.
DeWitt: We did meet with crisis negotiators.
Livingston: Yeah, you can talk with them.
DeWitt: They can tell you what they were like, you know, with recordings and...

JK: What do you think they do that separates them from someone just talking a person off the ledge?

DeWitt: They listen exceptionally well.
Livingston: It's a lot of pulliung someone's storu out of them. One of the things that Joe, the guy that we were working with, said was that you're always dealing with someboidy who's probably having the worst day of their life.
DeWitt: He likened it to a reporter. (To Ron) Do you remember that? Like putting the story together.
Livingston: (To Rosemarie) Yeah, I was there for that.

JK: Now, Ron... I know it's been seven years, but... what is the Office Space reference you're sick of and which is the one that you always love hearing? Everybody still loves that movie, even now.

Livingston: You know, I don't think I have one that I'm sick of, to be honest with you. I haven't gotten sick of that yet. The funny thing about that movie is that most of those great lines are things that other characters said.

JK: I know, though, that your line of "I don't like my job and I'm not going to go anymore," has become a rallying cry to office workers.

I liked it when you just stayed in bed.
Livingston: I don't think there's anybody out there that's a bigger fan of that movie than I am. I've had people tell me that it changed their life, and it certainly changed mine.

JK: The fact that Mike Judge got that so well, is great.

Yeah, he got it dead on.

JK: Were you surprised that the movie made it big when it got out on DVD? Because not a lot of people saw it in the theaters.

I was surprised on that movie about three or four times. I was surprised when they cast me, I was surprised when the movie wasn't a hit in the theaters, and then I was surprised when it came back and rebounded, and kind of exploded about five years later.
DeWitt: (Holds up three fingers) Those three times (laughs).
Livingston: And I'm surprised that I can't remember how many times I was surprised (laughs).

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